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A Border Boost For Baseball

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PHOENIX -- oembed" width="230" align="left" >http://www.flickr.com/photos/bryce_edwards/3624262946/ The World Series starts tonight, and with baseball on the brain this week I was intrigued by a story from PRI's The World, " Mexico May be the Secret to California Town's Baseball Success."

The story describes how the small border town of Brawley, Calif. (population 25,000) has produced at least 21 major and minor league baseball players.

Brawley's proximity to Mexico is credited with the unusual surge:

But in the winter, when Americans have packed away their bats and gloves, baseball in Mexico is still going strong. And that may be the secret to Brawley’s success. Mexicali’s winter leagues, half an hour down the road, are open to amateurs and pros. That means Brawley high school athletes can train across the border, alongside professionals looking for a game.

Wondering how many other border cities had produced major league baseball players, I went to baseball-reference.com. Players are sorted by place of birth, place of death and place of burial. I know place of birth doesn't always indicate where a player was raised and played amateur ball, but it's a start.

There are 91 major league players with a birthplace in Arizona, with a whopping 28 from Tucson. Southern Arizona has a rich baseball tradition, so this is not surprising. There are also players from the southern towns of San Manuel, Lowell and Yuma.

New Mexico has only produced 26 major leaguers in history, with Hall of Famer Ralph Kiner hailing from the now-defunct mining town of Santa Rita. No player was born along the border.

California and Texas, of course, have produced hundreds of major league baseball players. California leads all states with 2,037 players born in the Golden State. More than 115 players were born in San Diego, including Hall of Famer Ted Williams and current Los Angeles Dodger

Tracy Greer became KJZZ's Managing Editor in January 2015. Prior to that she spent three years as the station's Digital Media Editor, a position that satisfied both her inner tech geek and her passion for journalism. She previously held a similar position for the North County Times in San Diego County, Calif.