Both Paul Kirkpatrick and Ben Andrews were born in England but grew up in the United States. Paul, a pitcher, played for Western Kentucky University and Ben, a third baseman, for Linfield College. Paul made his debut for Great Britain at the WBC qualifier in 2016 where Trevor Hoffman was his bullpen coach. Ben made his debut in 2019 at the European Championships, alongside of Paul and a number of other dual passport holders.
“It’s always special wearing a country across your chest. But I’ll always remember talking to Trevor Hoffman about his changeup with me” – Paul Kirkpatrick
Post-college both players took similar baseball paths, the overseas route, and in Europe specifically, they were both hot commodities given the multiple advantages to a club that secures a player who has an EU passport. The major reason is import players who possess a European passport do not count against the limits set within leagues towards non-European players on the field at a time. Both Paul and Ben utilized this advantage to their favor quite well by securing contracts with top clubs in top European leagues, along with more attractive offers than the typical offer that non-EU passport holders receive.
“What I enjoy about playing on the British National Team is the same thing that I enjoy in all of my international baseball experiences, meeting new people with the same passion for travel and baseball outside of the United States.” – Ben Andrews
Paul’s first overseas stint was in Germany with the Stuttgart Reds of the German Bundesliga South in 2018. This led to a jump to the best league in Europe (along with Italy) the Dutch Major League (Honkbal Hoofdklasse), in 2019 after signing with the Hoofddorp Pioniers. Paul had a career year in the Netherlands, posting a 1.98 era which led to a #2 ranking on our 2019 Top Pitchers Overseas list. Not long after, Paul received contact from the Italian Series A 2019 champions, Fortitudo Bologna. Let’s just say that Paul will be eating the best pasta and pizza of his life in 2020. At the time of publishing of this post, Paul is currently at the Gold Coast of Australia playing in the Greater Brisbane Baseball League. Again, the British passport came into play as the visa for Australia for British citizens is a simple form to fill out, has no fee, and has no limitations to how many times it can be applied for. American players, in contrast, need to apply for the working holiday visa which as a fee around $400 and is only usable once (some can qualify for a second one if working in a certain industry).
Ben’s first overseas stint came the winter of 2017-18 when he also signed on to play in the Greater Brisbane Baseball League. He then continued on to Europe in 2018 with the Solingen Alligators, a perennial annual contender in the German Bundesliga North. He kept the overseas train rolling by signing for the following winter to play in South Australia where he absolutely mashed the ball hitting 0.487 with a slugging percentage of 0.757, good enough for a #2 ranking on our Top Batters list for the winter. In 2019 he rejoined the Alligators and his hot bat continued, hitting .380 with 8 home runs, good enough for the #12 spot on our Top Batters list. After chasing summer for four straight seasons and two full years, Ben took the 2019-20 winter off and is looking to play pro ball stateside in 2020, but plans to return overseas again in the future.
If you are a baseball player and have a parent, grandparent, or even a great grandparent born in Europe, we recommend you contact the closest embassy of that country to find out if you qualify for a passport. There are plenty of opportunities for players without a European passport, but the European passport can open many more doors.
Stay tuned for future features on BBJO members with dual citizenship playing around the world.
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.