Jakub Janda did an interview with Joe Truesdale for Baseball.cz. He was so kind to make it available to Mister-Baseball.com too. Truesdale was part of the Czech Extraleague club Arrows Ostrava in the past five years and is currently playing in South Africa.
Jakub Janda: Currently, you are playing in South Africa. What is the country like?
Joe Truesdale: Where I’m located, the Cape Town area, it’s very modern. Most of the time it’s easy to forget that I’m in Africa. You have to look hard to find something overly African as most people would think. It hasn’t been hot yet, but rather cool and every day it is so windy.
There are no elephants, lions, nor giraffes running freely through the streets where I’ve been so far. There is at least one area where baboons run freely though.
JJ: Could you compare the local league to the Czech Extraleague and US college ball?
JT: The South African League’s biggest difference from the Czech League and US college teams would have to be the facilities. Most fields don’t have full outfield fences and some don’t have dugouts. Some of the fields that do have dugouts don’t have roofs and most fields don’t have bullpens. I would say that talent wise the league here and the Czech league are quite similar. There are several guys in this league that have played or are currently playing professionally in the US or Europe, but then there are some guys that probably wouldn’t be playing if there were enough guys on each of the teams. One aspect of baseball that is different here compared to baseball in Czech is that almost all the guys here practice and play the game of baseball at a much higher intensity. They present themselves more as baseball players, even though it is very much an amateur sport. They also come to the field looking to work and play hard each day. They even have fun in the process.
JJ: How did you enjoy your 2010 in Arrows Ostrava, Czech Extraleague?
JT: I will be very honest when I answer this question, maybe even too honest. I’ve worked with the Arrows organization the past five years. The first few years were enjoyable on and off the field, but the 2010 season was very much the contrary. The people running Arrows this season made several unwise decisions. One of the many poor decisions was that they fired the best manager the organization has ever had and probably will ever have. This manager was actually moving Arrows towards a legitimate baseball organization. By doing this they weakened the entire organization considerably.
There are several other examples of poor management, but I won’t go into all that on here. As a player and a coach you shouldn’t have to be concerned with all those problems. When you know all these management issues are going on, it starts to affect your focus and performance, which it did this past season for me. This makes me sad because I truly enjoy Ostrava and the Czech Republic. I wouldn’t have dedicated five years to there if I didn’t.
JJ: In past several years, you have been playing for Arrows Ostrava. Please describe how you got there and what the path of the team was in last few years.
JT: I was part of the Athletes in Action team in 2005, which competed in the Prague Baseball Week and stopped in Ostrava for a few days. I was asked by Ota Kanok to return for the 2006 season to be apart of the Ostrava Arrows. I accepted the offer and have been returning to Ostrava the past five seasons.
Each year the Ostrava Arrows team looks slightly different. A few guys have retired and over the past couple of years several of the guys have taken the opportunity to play in other countries. Also, in the past five years there have been five different coaches. Stability hasn’t been the Arrows strength.
JJ: What do you consider your career highlight?
JT: I would have to say the 2005 season at Arrows. It was a great group of guys I had the privilege to compete with. They were real baseball players. We also played in the European Cup Qualifying Tournament in Barcelona, Spain. We played some good baseball and had a great time together as a team. That year was a great introduction into European baseball for me.
JJ: When you are in a slump, what do you do to get back to form? Do you have any recipe you use?
JT: I have myself on film during the times I was batting well and also when I was batting poorly. When I am in a batting slump I go back to the film where I was batting well and watch to see what I was doing correctly at that time. I also film myself when I am in a slump to see what I am doing wrong and then try to correct it. In addition to this I practice as much as possible. I try to take at least 600-700 swings per week.
JJ: If you could tell a few words to kids who want to play international ball as you do, what would you recommend to them?
JT: Put in the time to be the best at what you are playing. Get your name out there so teams and people will know who you are and that you are interested in playing for their organization. Get to know people in the international baseball world. Don’t give up.
JJ: Time when you will hang your spikes will come. Do you have any plans after that?
JT: When it’s all said and done and I hang them up I will go back to University to get my Master’s or Doctorate in Physiotherapy.
JJ: What has baseball given to you and what has the game taken away from you?
JT: Baseball has given me a lot over the past few years. It has given me the opportunity to meet a multitude of interesting people from various different countries and to experience many different cultures. It’s given me the opportunity to coach and to play the sport that I have played since I was eight years old. It’s given me much more then it has taken away.
JJ: If you would have a chance to do something differently in your baseball career, what would it be?
JT: I would have pursued a team in Europe several years earlier.
Thank you for your time.
Written for Baseball.cz