Good read from John Manuel at Baseball America about Steve Meinke, a Thai-American hand model who made Thailand’s World Baseball Classic team despite not having played baseball since a two at-bat Division III career in the late 90s:
“I had to deal with the language barrier, chickens, oldness, no medical training, more oldness, blown hamstring, water and food poisoning, more injuries, the whole cultural aspect of society there, and of course their approach to baseball, which many times drove me crazy,” Meinke said. “And I loved every minute of it.”
For his trouble, Meinke got to make a WBC-paid trip to Taiwan as a member of the Thai national team, where Damon was his teammate. “Johnny was always awesome and considerate to his teammates,” Meinke said, “and always warmed up with the non-Americans and even had the players sign his jersey.”
Meinke never got into a game, though. He was warming up in one game that Thailand lost by mercy rule, and was set to pinch-hit in another game that also ended early by mercy rule.
Before the WBC qualifiers, I started and scrapped a post about all the new participating teams to jokingly determine if there were any I might be good enough to play for. Once I realized that basically every country in the games has its own domestic baseball league, I figured I was eliminated not only by heritage but by utter lack of practice and athleticism. My grandmother was born in Scotland, though, and I’m hoping Scotland goes independent in time to field its own club for the next WBC just so I don’t have to give up the dream.
I’m going to Thailand in January, for what it’s worth, but by my best Internet research there isn’t any baseball in the places I’ll be. Also, though there’s little I’d rather do than watch baseball anyplace, it doesn’t seem like the best use of my limited time in Thailand to spend it doing the exact same thing I do all summer long at home.