Upon graduating in 2009 from the Winthrop University Eagles baseball program, an NCAA Division 1 Big South Conference school, Owen Reid knew three things, he wanted to continue playing baseball, he did not want the traditional 9-5 job, and he wanted to see the world.
A Winthrop teammate of Owen’s who happened to be a native of Vienna, Austria, was his first ticket to playing baseball overseas in the summer of 2009 thus opening Owen’s mind to realization that he can accomplish all three of his desires by using his baseball knowledge and ability.
Admittedly Owen did not originally have a grand scheme to use baseball as his ticket to travel the world and did not anticipate the long term adventure that was to come. While playing for the Vienna Wanderers in Austria, Owen quickly established himself as a valuable asset as a coach by taking over the development of their youth and running school projects. Owen also established himself as a valuable player as he led the Wanderers to an Austrian championship.
While in Austria in 2009, Owen managed to find the time to visit the Czech Republic, Hungary, Italy, Germany, Liechtenstein, Slovakia, Slovenia, and Spain. After this initial year abroad, Owen had the baseball travel bug and never looked back.
“That experience in Europe and Austria specifically I think really set me up and provided me with the foundation necessary to work abroad, live abroad, play baseball abroad and essentially start a life overseas” said Owen when reflecting back on how this first overseas experience paved the way for his international baseball career.
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Parlaying his achievements in Austria, Owen was able to land himself a job in Auckland New Zealand for the winter of 2009-2010 as the Player Development Coordinator for the Central City Baseball Club while also contributing to the club as a player. It was in New Zealand that Owen realized his baseball career was heading more in the direction of “professional coach” rather than “professional player” as he found himself responsible for the development of baseball for the entire Auckland region, one of the fastest growing baseball markets in the world.
Owen returned to Austria in 2010 immediately after the winter in New Zealand, but this time as Head Coach for the Feldkirch Cardinals, a club located on the opposite side of Austria than Vienna. Owen was in charge of the development of all 100 members of the club aged 8-38, all this while playing on the senior mens team as they fought to get promoted to the first division.
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Owen managed to scratch three more countries off his bucket list in this return to Europe as he made his way to San Marino, France, and Switzerland. Owen attributes his ability to network as the core reason why he has been able to cheaply travel to so many countries while in Europe. Networking with imports on other teams in other countries whom he met at international competitions has helped him save a lot of money on accommodations.
After his second stint in Austria Owen did not take a break and went right back to winter ball overseas, but this time in Perth, Australia with the Morley Eagles as a player and youth coach for the 2011-2012 season. Using his networking skills and now lengthly overseas baseball background, Owen managed to quickly work his way into the Australian Baseball League as the Operations Manager for the Perth Heat while continuing to play for the state league Eagles.
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Owen spent just under a year and a half in that role with responsibilities ranging from managing food and beverage vendors to providing content for the club’s the social media network.
At the end of the 2011 season, Owen hopped on a plane to Indonesia that was shorter in length than a flight across the country to Sydney. In Bali, Owen took full advantage of the very inexpensive luxury service available to tourists by getting massages on the beach (by nine different women at the same time), renting a surfboard and a private surf coach for an hour and enjoying a few fruity beverages at the swim-up bar at his resort.
In April 2012 the Perth Heat and Western Australian baseball finally came to their senses when they realized that although Owen is a great administrator, his knowledge of the game and his ability to translate it to others is too valuable an asset to not be utilized. His role was therefore changed to Player Development Manager for Western Australia.
In his two years in this role Owen had a lot of success and was responsible for founding the Baseball WA Strength and Conditioning Program. School participation rates, profit increases and numerous new coaching accreditations were the results of Owen’s hard work and dedication to developing the game in Western Australia.
Over what was nearly 4 years in Australia, Owen managed to visit 6 of the 7 Australian states and claims that Australian beaches are the most pristine beaches he has seen in all his travels. Also during this time, a budding romance with an Australian woman named Hayley has blossomed into a full blown relationship which has involved many travels together, including to the U.S. to meet Owen’s family and friends. When asked if there will be any settling down in the future now that he has a serious relationship with Hayley, Owen replied, “I have made a lot of catches on the baseball field but she is definitely my best catch so far.”
In September 2014 Owen embarked on his latest journey which is that of the Director of Baseball Operations and Manager of Player Development at The Hit Factory (THF) in Singapore, a 9000 square foot training facility. Owen travels with youth clubs from Singapore to tournaments around the globe, most recently to Japan. Owen is in charge of putting together these tours, international events, and facilitating day to day clinics and training.
The most recent event that they are hosting is The Hit Factory College Baseball Showcase on December 6th, 2014 headlined by Augie Garrido. Also, every February they host The Hit Factory Singapore Classic which is a softball and baseball tournament featuring U10, U12, and U14 teams.
In his 5 years since hopping on a plane to Austria in 2009, Owen has played for four different baseball teams abroad, has travelled to 19 different countries, and has established a successful career in baseball off the field. When asked how someone would go about following in his footsteps Owen replied with a wise, if-then statement, “If you put your best foot forward with the people who have invested in you, then you will reap the benefits of that in return.”
– by David Burns
If you want to see more photos and read more about Owen’s travels, visit his website at:
**Stayed tuned for the audio version of Owen’s story in an upcoming podcast episode.**