by David Burns
If you were to ask friends working in baseball about professional opportunities overseas, most would refer you to Nippon Professional Baseball, the Shikoku Island League, the Baseball Challenge League or the Australian Baseball League. Others may mention the Italian Baseball League and the Dutch Major League. It’s very difficult to land a job in any of these leagues for most baseball professionals, unless they’ve had successful minor league careers.
So is that where all the opportunities lie? Aren’t there opportunities for the undrafted or recently released?
Believe it or not, you can get paid to play baseball overseas in 20+ leagues within 18 different countries outside of the Americas. Not only are there plenty of opportunities to play (or coach) professionally around the globe, there are many that are offered year-round.
Just ask Rob Herrmann, a former NCAA DIII catcher who has spent the better part of the past five years playing baseball overseas between Europe and Australia. He settled in with a club in Montpellier, France, where he competed in the French Elite League while enjoying the lifestyle on the Mediterranean coast.
Rob was also one of the first members of the International Baseball Community website, dedicated to helping aspiring professional players and coaches take their career overseas. Since its launch in December 2012, members of the website have signed over 250 contracts in 23 different countries. Many have established long-term careers overseas, and annually enjoy the rich cultures of Europe in the summer or the warm beaches of Australia in the winter.
Owen Reid is one of those individuals. He transitioned from player, to player-coach, to coach throughout a career in baseball that took him to Europe, New Zealand and Australia, where he served as the Perth Heat’s Director of Operations and as the Youth Development Coordinator for Western Australian Baseball. Today, he lives in Jakarta, Indonesia and is the Director of Asia Operations for The Hit Factory. Keep up with him at owenworldwide.com.
The International Baseball Community website is continuing to connect more and more aspiring professional baseball coaches and players with new markets around the world. In addition to Europe and Australia, organizations in China, Indonesia, South Africa, New Zealand and Canada are now using the website to find coaches and player-coaches. American and Canadian independent professional baseball teams are also now using the website to recruit players.
For more information on taking your baseball career overseas, visit www.internationalbaseballcommunity.com
To listen to podcast or read the blog full of similar stories, visit www.baseballjobsoverseas.com