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Aug '09 01

Feature Story on Swedish Baseball Family Claesson

by IBAF, www.ibaf.org

The Claessons- A True Baseball Family

Thomas Claesson, his two brothers, and his father, have become the first family of Swedish baseball.

To make a long story short, Thomas Claesson was born to be a baseball player. His father, Robert, was the pitcher of the Sweden National Team, and his mother Yvonne was the president of the Stockholm Baseball Club. This power duo had three sons – Thomas, Joakim, and Jakob – all of whom followed in the footsteps of their dad. Thinking back to his childhood, Thomas Claesson said the following: “I was born and raised on the field pretty much, and I practically lived there when I was five or six years old.”Indeed, the desire and capability of playing baseball had been written into Thomas’s genes.

In 1989, Thomas officially started his career in baseball, and that summer, he went to Japan and Sapporo for a youth tournament. “It was a two week trip, where we first stayed at different families and played. After that, we headed off to the Olympic Village in Sapporo, then to Tokyo to stay with another family. I don’t think we won any games, but at that time, I figured out that baseball was meant to be a part of me.” It was during this experience that Thomas realized that he wanted to be a pitcher, and he has been one ever since. “It seemed almost natural,” he described, “Natural to follow up on something that has been there for all my life.”

A year later, Thomas participated in the World Children Baseball Fair in Los Angeles, and back in Sweden he played as a cadet and a junior until 1998. At that point, Thomas was overwhelmed by his school life and social life, so he decided to put baseball aside and to reconsider his priorities. Three years later though, he realized that this was a big mistake and took up baseball again, both as a player and a board member of the Stockholm Baseball Club. “I simply missed it,” Thomas explained, “I was missing something important in my life. Something I was passionate about.”

From then on, Thomas played in the highest division in Sweden, but in 2002, a lot of the players decided to quit. As a result, Thomas asked for his team to be transferred to the third highest league, but within two years, they moved back up to the top division once more. On August 12th, 2004, the inevitable happened: Thomas stepped onto the same field as his father and two siblings. Their team, Stockholm BSK, was playing against the Enskede BK, and Thomas’s dad was the starting pitcher, while his siblings Joakim and Jakob played catcher and third baseman. Thomas guarded the first base, and he said proudly, “I don’t remember the final score of the game, but in the seventh inning, we were up 8-1.” What an extraordinary family the Claessons are, and when asked about the purpose behind this particular reunion, Thomas responded, “It has always been a dream for dad to play with all of his children. Dad might have been a bit too old, and Jakob a bit too young, but we knew all along that we had to play together sometime.”

Two years later, Thomas’s father Robert pitched for the last time in the Elitserien, which is the highest division of baseball in Sweden, against the Leksand team, his past rival. However, this final game was in no way Robert’s way of saying farewell to baseball; in fact, he continues to train cadets, age thirteen to fifteen, to this day. Similarly, Thomas had begun work with the Swedish Baseball Federation, holding a multitude of jobs ranging from working on the Sweden Series to being the Technical Commissioner in the Sundbyberg World Cup. His favorite job, however, remains being the assistant coach of the Cadets National Team. “I experienced so much fun growing up with baseball, that I wanted to give something back to the baseball world and help other kids experience the same thing.” Well, we applaud you, Thomas, for embodying “I am baseball as a person, and we applaud all the Claessons, for embodying “I am baseball” as a family.

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