John Miller, who is playing and coaching for the Brussels Kangaroos in the Belgian 2nd Division and is a reporter for a big American newspaper, is now also the Little League Commissioner for Belgium. He is also back chronicling the 2010 season in his “Old World Pastime” column on Mister-Baseball.com for a third straight year.
As we get ready to watch the left-coast Giants play the Republican Rangers in the World Delirious, let’s take a minute to acknowledge the thousands of American ballplayers who’ve made Europe home for a summer. They are among the primary readers of this website and column, and they give Old World baseball a big lift every summer.
The trend really took off a decade ago with the explosion of this here internet, making it much easier to match player and European team. Of course, that didn’t stop the odd ex-con, frat house moron or one-legged outfielder from selling his services to the unsuspecting euro club. But in general, the phenomenon has been tremendously positive.
One member of the new generation was Mark Cardillo. He graduated from a four-year career at Villanova in 2005. He didn’t get drafted so he rode the wave and moved to Italy, where he played short and second for four years.
His epiphany, however, came a bit later in Naples (Florida) when he attended a lecture by Yogi Berra and Baseball Hall of Fame president Dale Petroskey. The latter noted in his remarks, writes Cardillo in an email, that “5% of all little leaguers make it to high school baseball. 5% of all high school players make it to college. 5% of all college players make it to the minors. 5% of all minor leaguers make it to the Major Leagues.”
That made him realize, he says, that there were thousands of players who needed help finding a place to play after their amateur careers ended. “I want to show college players that don’t get drafted in the MLB draft or minor league players that will be cut from the minor league teams that there are many opportunities to play baseball at a professional level in the international leagues,” he says. “Someone just needs to inform these players.”
Informing is the mission of Cardillo’s new website www.ProBaseballInternational.com. It connects players and coaches. There are a few websites that do this, including www.mister-baseball.com, but Cardillo promises a more systematic, professional approach.
The motivation, he says, is allowing other players to match his experience. “I can’t think of a better way than to spend a summer abroad as a college student or young professional and gain valuable hands on experience working for an international baseball team for college credit or a stipend,” he says.
The site remains free. ”If I put my business hat on, yes there are ways to make a profit on this site,” says Cardillo. “However, I know the importance of this site and the potential it has. The last thing I want to do is hamper its potential due to greed. That’s why I’m trying to keep it free to join as long as possible. This site is my project, my baby. I want to watch it grow up to be something important.”
He’s gotten attention and help from MLB and the International Baseball Federation IBAF. Not to mention Old World Pastime.
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