June 25, 2009


Sowing the field of dreams: In Cary and Durham, USA Baseball develops the next generation of players (Mike Potter, 6/24/09, Independent Weekly)

USA Baseball, which was made the official national governing body of the sport by the Amateur Sports Act of 1978, fields the only baseball teams officially representing the country in any competition. There are five levels of men's teams and one of women's, which plays baseball and not softball. "We're the sole organization in our sport that when 'USA' is on the jersey has the authority to select and train teams," said USA Baseball CEO Paul Seiler at his DBAP office. The organization has an annual operating budget of about $3 million, with sponsors such as Major League Baseball, the card company Upper Deck and equipment manufacturers Rawlings, New Era and Nike.

"When we win a game, we win it for our country," Seiler said. "Our goal is to develop a pool of players at the major league level who have USA Baseball experience."

And, he hopes, to resume play in the Olympics. The sport was dropped from the Games for 2012, and it needs a positive vote at a meeting of the International Olympic Committee in Copenhagen in October to be added back to the program for 2016.

Meanwhile, the area will be busy with USA Baseball this summer. The national team, comprised of collegians whose eligibility hasn't expired, plays the most games. It formerly represented the country in the Olympics before pros began playing in 2000.

This national team's 2009 tryout group originally consisted of over 40 players including Elon's rising junior pitcher and Charlotte native Tom Girdwood, along with half a dozen from the ACC—Virginia's rising sophomore left-handed pitcher/first baseman Danny Hultzen and junior outfielder Jarrett Parker, Florida State's junior outfielder Tyler Holt and right-handed pitcher/outfielder Mike McGee, Miami's junior catcher Yasmani Grandal and Clemson's junior southpaw Casey Harman.

With a 22-man final roster, that team is aimed at the 37th USA versus Japan Collegiate All-Star Championship—a five-game series that the home team almost always wins—and the World Baseball Challenge in British Columbia, both in late July.

Most of its "friendlies" will be played locally, with five games against Canada in Cary or Durham from June 25-29 and three more against Guatemala from July 2-4.

Posted by Orrin Judd at June 25, 2009 9:31 AM
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