Jakub Janda did an interview for Mister-Baseball with Mike Griffin, who has coached with the Czech Baseball Association and is now leaving to work with MLB International in China.
Jakub Janda: Mike, could you give us a brief look at your baseball career as a coach and player?
Mike Griffin: As a player I led the Canadian Junior National in hitting during high school. Following 18 months of injury and 5 operations I attended to colleges, the College of Southern Idaho and the University of Hawaii where I received another operation. This led me to Europe where my body allowed me to play less games and it gave me the opportunity to begin a coaching career. I have coached back home in Canada helping a high school program and as well as working with the Czech cadets and U21 National Teams. The past 2 seasons I worked as the head coach for Kotlarka Praha in the Czech Extraleague.
JJ: How did you get in connection with Czech baseball?
MG: I originally learned about European Baseball through a summer ball team with Athletes in Action about 6 years ago. It was a rehab summer for me but we competed in France, Germany, and the Czech Republic.
JJ: You were about to became the Czech national team manager. How did you enjoy your time with the Czech national squads?
MG: I was never officially asked to become a Czech National team manager, there was some interest I heard especially with the junior team. However, I loved my time in Czech, working in the National teams programs was a great experience especially winning the U21 European Championship.
JJ: Would you give us some insight on the Czech Baseball Academies?
MG: Well, there are some organizational things that need to take place to move forward but currently Prague and Brno are the two operating Academies. I was leading the Prague Academy this year and during the winter we had an intense fitness program Monday, Wednesday, and Friday and worked on individual baseball needs on Tuesday and Friday. These practices took place before school giving the players the opportunity to practice with their club teams after school.
JJ: How is Czech baseball in your eyes? Has it developed in years you were involved?
MG: Czech baseball has improved since I first saw it six yars ago. However, there are great steps needed to advance the game at an international level. I have seen more coaches come in to try and help which is great, in the end though there must be either some creative ideas or some harder financial and marketing work in order to provide resources and people needed to advance the game.
JJ: What are you going to do in 2011?
MG: I have recently accepted an offer with MLB to work in China . I will be working in the MLB development centers.
JJ: What do you consider your career highlight?
MG: I have no idea. I loved competeing for Canada . As a coach watching a very young Prague team grow and become some pretty good and knowledgeable players was exciting. Its about the relationships for sure during my career that make things special.
JJ: What has baseball given to you?
MG: About 10 years ago I became a Christian and it has been an amazing journey since then. Baseball has been a huge tool that God has used to grow me as a person and my character. It’s a game full of ups and downs, team work, failure and joys. I love it.
JJ: What has the game taken out of your life?
MG: Health. I wouldn’t change much, but seven operations and 3 years missed with 5-6 months spent in hospitals by the time I was 21 made for some long and painful years.
JJ: If you could adress young kids who would like to get involved in international baseball, chat would you tell them?
MG: Life is much bigger than baseball. But whatever you do give it everything. Baseball will reveal and test your character. But there is a right way to play the game, with respect, with effort, with fun. Enjoy the journey and persevere through the failures.
Also, I just want to say how much I have enjoyed my friends in Czech Baseball and I want to give my thanks to CBA, Radim Kepak, Pavel Chadim, Zdenek Josefus, Jaroslav Vondricka, and so many others for giving me an opportunity to live and be a part of your culture. Vesele Vanoce.