In addition to numerous opportunities to see the world while playing professional baseball, there are opportunities to see the world and lend a helping hand to the less fortunate baseball markets around the globe. Organizations like the Kosovo Baseball Initiative and Baseball Without Borders do just that, provide lesser known baseball markets with the opportunity to learn the game and use the equipment that they otherwise do not have access to. Through these non-profit organizations, baseball players and coaches from around the world have the opportunity to travel to Kosovo, the Dominican Republic, Cuba, Israel, Ecuador to share their knowledge of the game. It’s time to sacrifice playing baseball at a higher level for the sake of helping the game grow in markets that need our help the most while also having the experience of a lifetime.
On the International Baseball Community website, there are nearly 100 member in the “walk-on” group, a group created for players and coaches who are willing to pay their flight overseas for a chance to play or coach on a team. With that being said, there are plenty of baseball destinations that would love to take on these players and coaches with open arms, particularly clubs at destinations mentioned in this podcast episode. The Bothasig Knights of South Africa are one of those clubs and in this episode I interview their head of marketing and long term member Patrick Stark. I also mentioned destinations throughout Europe that are actively seeking players who will pay their flight in exchange for accommodations and sometimes a food allowance.
I also introduce a concept in the works that I am putting together called the Import Exchange Program. This is somewhere between professional baseball and travel baseball. A number of clubs from around the world have contacted me seeking players who are willing to finance their way in exchange for a place to stay and sometimes a job or small food salary. This demand has led me to the idea of a arranging a cooperation between clubs from different countries who will combine their resources to support the trip of a player or coach who is willing to pay their flight over.
Another problematic situation in European baseball is the visa issue. Within the Schengen zone, a group of EU countries where a traveller can pass borders freely with a visitors visa, players can stay up to three months but then they have to leave. Some countries are more relaxed with this law and others are very strict, such as the Netherlands. Then there are countries in the EU that are not part of the Schengen zone which allow travellers to stay up to 6 months. I am currently exploring an import exchange cooperation between clubs who currently do not import because of either visa or budget issues that are inside and outside the Schengen zone. For example, a club with a budget in the Netherlands that does not import due to tough visitor laws, can provide the financial backing for a player to live while in Europe, while the club with no budget in England (outside the zone) provides that same player a job and housing in exchange for play.
Another example, would be a club Spain on a low budget that can house you from March through May and provide an opportunity to earn a little money while playing baseball and coaching their youth. When the three months are up (visitor visa limit) the player can then fly out or take the train to a club in Ireland who put them up for 3-6 months and provide a job while playing baseball.
This program will take some time to build but the purpose of this episode is to get the word out there that if you have some cash flow, there are opportunities. If you are interested in being a part of the program, whether a club or a player, please email me with the subject heading “import exchange program” to email@example.com