Harlem Globetrotters Announce Historic Signing of First-Ever Puerto Rican Player
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Orlando "El Gato" Melendez Will Join Trotters When They Convene for New York Training Camp Sept. 29, Culminating with Second Annual Performance for Harlem Youth on Oct. 8 PHOENIX--(Business Wire)-- The World Famous Harlem Globetrotters have signed the first Puerto Rican-born player in the team's storied history, inking 6-8 dunking sensation Orlando "El Gato" Melendez. El Gato, a native of Ponce, Puerto Rico, and a former North Carolina Tar Heel, will join four other Globetrotter rookies as the team opens training camp in New York on Monday, Sept. 29. El Gato joins fellow rookie Trevor "Tiny" Lawrence - born in Jamaica - as part of a group of only 18 players to be born outside of the 50 United States among the Globetrotters' 650-plus alumni. The seven-foot Lawrence, who grew up in Las Vegas, played his college ball at New Mexico State. The other rookies joining "the world's most famous team" for training camp in New York are: -- William "Bull" Bullard from Detroit, who was selected in the Globetrotters' second annual player draft in 2008 out of Texas A&M-Corpus Christi and finished second in the 2008 College Slam Dunk Championship at the Final Four in San Antonio. -- Shagari "Skyscraper" Alleyne, a 7-4 center hailing from the Bronx, a former Kentucky Wildcat who spent time in the Philadelphia 76ers' training camp last season. -- High-flying guard Ron "'Copter" Christy from Stratford, Conn., and Teikyo Post University. These rookie stalwarts will join Globetrotter stars Special K Daley, Scooter Christensen, Flight Time Lang and Wildkat Edgerson, as well as new fan favorites such as Ant Atkinson - last year's top overall draft pick - Handles Franklin, Blenda Rodriguez and many others, as the Globetrotters prepare for their 83rd consecutive season of touring the world. The Globetrotters' training camp will culminate with a return to the neighborhood that inspired their name on Wednesday, Oct. 8 at 10:30 a.m. EDT. For the second straight year, the team will showcase their spectacular brand of fun, family entertainment for thousands of smiling Harlem school children during a private performance against the Washington Generals at the 369th Harlem Armory. Presented in cooperation with the NYC Police Athletic League, the Globetrotters will debut the exciting new show for their upcoming 2009 World Tour. "Last year's show at the 369th Harlem Armory was an overwhelming success," said Globetrotters CEO Kurt Schneider. "The Armory and Police Athletic League were such gracious hosts and the kids had so much fun, we've been eager to come back. Last year's event was the springboard to a phenomenal record-breaking tour that re-energized the organization and returned the Globetrotters to iconic pop culture status." Although this is the second straight year the Globetrotters will perform in Harlem, it is only the fourth time in history that the team has played in the Manhattan neighborhood. The first was in 1968, the second in 1987. Sponsored by Campbell Soup Company, the Harlem Globetrotters have played in 119 countries on six continents, entertaining over 128 million fans and crossing barriers between cultures, societies and people from all walks of life. The Globetrotters are one of only six teams to be inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. For the latest news and information about the Harlem Globetrotters, and to purchase team merchandise, visit the team's official Web site: www.harlemglobetrotters.com. Harlem Globetrotters, Phoenix Brett Meister, 602-258-0000, ext. 104 firstname.lastname@example.org Copyright Business Wire 2008