In 1995 Ryan Schurman was a 10th round draft pick of the Atlanta Braves. Twenty years later he is married with a baby boy and living in Germany and coaches cricket. Ryan is another remarkable story of how playing baseball overseas can not only be a way of extending a playing career, but also a life changing experience.
This former AA pitcher within the Cardinals organization first took his career overseas to Perth, Australia at the age of 28 after 11 years of pro ball, seven of which were with affiliated clubs. He realized that his pro career was winding down and decided to make the most of his remaining skills to see some of the world. This led to a signing within the Western Australian State League based in Perth which became his home for the next 9 winters.
You have an opportunity not only to go play baseball, but to build your coaching resume, which is massive.
The first three seasons playing in Australia, Ryan continued to also play independent baseball in the U.S. during the summer until he realized that his new home and love was in Perth. In his first year in Perth he was awarded league MVP which garnered him a reputation as a quality import, but it was his passion for coaching kids that Ryan believes was what opened more doors for him and enabled to establish himself a longer term stay within Australian baseball.
“You have an opportunity not only to go play baseball, but to build your coaching resume, which is massive.”
He left such a big impression that first year that he soon found himself in a head coaching position within Western Australian Baseball Development and as the Perth Heat pitching coach. It was his position with the Heat that then landed him an invite from the Western Australian Cricket Association to come work with their players and coaches on power enhancing techniques and throwing mechanics to see if the baseball crossover can help them improve on their overall fielding and throwing skills. The WACA were so impressed with Ryan that they invited him to come back for a second year where he found himself working with some of the best cricket players in the world while continuing to play baseball and serve as the Perth Heat and Baseball WA Pitching Coordinator.
“If you passionately do the right things and network, you never know what can happen,” responded Ryan when asked how he managed to open so many doors.
It wasn’t easy, emphasized Ryan, as he had to work his butt off working odd jobs on the side brick laying, mowing lawns, cleaning meat markets, while “crushing” 2-3 private baseball lessons a day.
“It created a name for myself and led to bigger and better things down the road.”
Continuing to play baseball was also very rewarding and Ryan particularly enjoyed playing in Australia as he found that the teams he played on were a “tighter unit” then his previous experiences in pro ball. After games everyone would hang out while opposing coaches would have post game speeches for the entire group.
If you passionately do the right things and network, you never know what can happen
He also loved the fact that he got to play some outfield and hit, calling it a “breath of fresh air and a chance to be all you can be.”
What some former AA pitchers may find a little pride swallowing or beneath them, Ryan found pitching on an artificial mound on Aussie football ovals to be a “great experience.”
“You just have to roll with it. The bases are 90 feet, the pitching mound is 60 ft 6 inches from home plate and it’s on.”
Aside from all that baseball and cricket fun, Ryan loved the Perth white sand beaches despite admitting he isn’t much of a swim in the ocean type of guy. Off the field he would spend a lot of time hanging out with the other imports frequenting clubs and going to the beach.
The biggest impact Ryan’s Aussie baseball experience had on his life is when he met a german girl who was backpacking in Perth. Long story short, the two fell in love, got married in Vegas and soon after their son was born in Australia.
The couple now live in Germany where they have settled in to start a life together. Ryan now coaches and plays for the Saarlouis Hornets, the local German second division club, where they have just been promoted into the first division next season, in the southwest part of Germany, 5 minutes from the French border. Ryan also remains active in cricket coaching around Europe and the U.K.. Recently Ryan signed on with the MLB Scouting Bureau as a consultant in Western Europe and has also joined the International Baseball Community staff as an advisor, global recruiting coordinator.
Enjoy this video of Ryan’s adventure.