Almost Home
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Almost Home

Life After Baseball?

Yes, there is life after baseball, but that doesn't mean there has to be a rush to get to it. That's what more and more baseball players — and some softball players, too — are discovering.

Guys and gals who love the game and play well, but maybe not well enough to be drafted for a professional career, are finding ways to keep playing and, as an added benefit, see the world.

Daniel Catalan at bat for Chile (Baseball Jobs Overseas photo)

Take Daniel Catalan, for example. "I've stretched baseball sooooo far," he said during a break between the double header he was playing with PUC, the Paris Univerity Club, his latest team.

Daniel graduated from Holy Names University in California in 2014, but wasn't quite ready for a "real" job. Instead he took advantage of his father's Chilean nationality and tried out for and made the national team of that country, hitting over .300 and making not a single error as he toured South America with the Chileans.

As a lefty, he then had no trouble securing a spot with Beisbol Barcelona in Spain's top division where he played outfield but also pitched, coming in as a reliever.

After a season there, it was on to Paris where he joined the always dangerous PUC team, in France's elite division.

Daniel is, however, realistic. "I want to go to graduate school, get a Ph.D., probably teach and coach. I love coaching," he says. He has built up his teaching experience in the off-season, working as a substitute teacher in his hometown of Los Angeles and doing some coaching there, as well.

Don and Tony Lewis during his Bois Guillaume days

And then there’s Tony Lewis. Like many other top college players, he simply was not ready to give up baseball dreams when he got his diploma from Drury University in Springfield, MO. "Lots of my friends were taking desk jobs right after they graduated," he said. "I didn't want that then; I wanted baseball." When there was a coaching change at his school, he fell through the cracks of the baseball drafts, so jumped at the chance to join the Bois Guillaume Woodchucks based in a suburb of Rouen, France.

Tony helped coach the young players and made a name for himself at the plate with his hard hitting — and lucky pants. His white baseball pants had a rip across the back at the top of his right leg. It grew as the season progressed, but Tony swore he couldn't hit without them — and a spit behind home plate before stepping into the batter's box.

Tony leaps out of way of ball — note rip in back of his right leg

It must have worked because Tony parlayed his time in France into a season of Independent ball with Les Capitales de Quebec, hitting an impressive .292 before heading into "retirement" as a banker.

Still, he isn't done with baseball as he has now created the Grip and Rip League in Missouri to give veteran players "one more chance to play the game you love."

For many players like Tony and Daniel, finding an overseas team has become much easier, thanks to the website created by David Burns: The site catalogues available players and helps teams find the right player for their needs.

"It's 'internet dating' for baseball jobs," said Reed Mason, a fire-balling pitcher, who "hooked up" with PUC online after graduating from Northwestern University.

Reed pitching for Northwestern University (Northwestern photo)

His hard throwing for the Paris club won him a place on France's All-Star Team alongside the country's top players and a handful of "imports" who play for other teams in the top division, D1.

"I think we make a difference," Eddie Murray said, talking about all the foreigners who play in Europe, Australia and South Africa. "We bring in some real baseball culture to the local teams and give them a boost." Murray is completing his second season at shortstop with PUC after playing at UCLA and later some Independent ball in Louisiana.

Like Daniel and Reed, he's also looking ahead, and this time spent playing baseball abroad has given them an opportunity to think about what they really want to do and make plans for the future. "I'm working on it," Reed said, "but I'm not quite ready to say what's next."

Not so for Eddie, shown below. "I'm developing my business of bringing some younger players from the US to Europe to give them a chance to train with some of the teams here and to get a feel for what the rest of world has to offer," he said.

He has done a great deal of coaching in California during the European "off season," and has been helping out with the younger teams in Paris. "I like working with kids, and bringing them to Europe is a great way to get some of the American kids really working and training and still have fun."

Life after baseball, it seems, starts with baseball.




Playing Baseball in France

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Don and Petie Kladstrup

Don and Petie Kladstrup

American writers living in France, working on forthcoming book, “Almost Home: Playing Baseball in France.” Authors, “Wine & War,” and “Champagne.”

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