Arik Sikula was done with baseball. Then he wasn’t.
For that, he can thank a chance meeting and Baseball Jobs Overseas.
At 27, with six minor-league seasons and nine stops on his resume, the former Toronto Blue Jays farmhand had been released by Somerset of the independent Atlantic League after a seven-game stint in 2016. He decided that was it, left the game and went into business for himself.
That didn’t last long.
“I was kind over the baseball life,” Sikula said, “So I started a franchise business buying and selling homes. But after about three months, I realized that I hated it. I was working by myself mostly and not developing any relationships with people.“
Not long after that, I was at a wedding and ran into a friend who had played Division III baseball and told me he’d gotten a job playing in the Czech Republic,” he went on. “I asked him how he did that, and he told me about Baseball Jobs Overseas.”
Sikula set up a profile on BBJO and quickly had multiple offers from European teams. He ended up playing with a team near Adelaide in the South Australian Baseball League, a notch below the Australian Baseball League, over the winter of 2016-17.
“It was an easy decision to go play internationally,” he said. “Playing in Adelaide was a great experience, even though we weren’t getting paid. I pitched about 80 innings; we won the championship; and I regained my love of the game.”
And he still has it.
He spent the last three summers pitching for Quebec of the independent Canadian-American Association (which announced a merger with the Frontier League in late 2019). He also had a stint with Saltillo of the AAA-level Mexican League in 2018 and played winter ball in both Venezuela and Colombia.
He had been in talks with multiple teams in Italy about playing this season, but the coronavirus pandemic has put those plans on hold. At the moment, he’s living near Chicago and working for a medical device company that manufactures test kits for the likes of Covid-19 and insulin.
“I’m still planning to play again,” he said, “but things are at a standstill now.
A late-round draft choice of Toronto after a career at Marshall University in West Virginia, Sikula hadn’t envisioned still playing at this point in his life.
“I’d never wanted to be a 30-year-old bouncing around the independent leagues,” he said, “but I’ve found that’s great. I’ve enjoyed the game, met a lot of interesting people and even met my wife while playing winter ball in Venezuela.”
At the same time, he has a position with Baseball Jobs Overseas in pro recruitment, helping place players with teams around the world.
“I refer a lot of players to the [BBJO] platform and try to get them to post their profiles. In particular, I’ve placed a lot of players in Latin America,” he said, “since I have a lot of contacts with teams and agents from times I’ve played there.”
It’s a role he hopes to nurture.
“I have a real passion for this organization,” he added. “The idea of playing overseas may seem insurmountable, but BBJO makes it easy. It’s connected a lot of guys with opportunities in a lot of countries. It’s really filling a void – giving players that maybe aren’t drafted a chance . . . or maybe older players that want to keep playing and/or get into coaching or front-office work.
“If someone had told me when I was really young that I’d be doing this when I was in my early 30s, I would have been thrilled.”
Travel the world using baseball or softball as your ticket
Our baseball and softball members get paid to play or coach overseas year-round, mostly in Europe and Australia.
There are a variety of levels overseas which present opportunities for both the college grad and the established professional.