Written by: Justin Gil, BBJO member
My poor girlfriend, she’s probably tired of being reminded that I can’t believe I’m at this point right now. She’s probably annoyed with me occasionally muttering to myself, “ Who would have thought I’d be doing this?” I’m still sometimes in disbelief. Two years ago, I never would’ve believed I’d travel around the world because of America‘s pastime. Living, coaching, and playing, it sounds cliché, but it’s been too much fun. Whether I was in Australia, living and surfing off the South Gippsland Coast or jumping into every body of water I could find in Switzerland. Traveling to Croatia, France, Italy, and Germany. Doing things I never would have imagined I’d get the opportunity to do. It’s been crazy. To be honest, before I started playing and coaching overseas I didn’t know what to expect. I thought baseball was only played in The Americas and Asia. I had no clue. I’ve been playing baseball without pause for the last two years, three seasons in Australia and one in Switzerland and the competition gets intense. I’ve been lucky to be part of a few playoff teams and a championship-winning team in Switzerland and even though I was brought in to be ”the guy“, I found myself relying on and learning from so many teammates along the way. That’s probably what I’ll miss the most from my experience. I got to make friends for life along the way and I didn’t expect that.
After a successful senior season at Ohio Valley University, a small 500 student Division II university on the border of Ohio and West Virginia, I wanted to continue playing and was ready to try and figure out what was next. I really tried hard to start putting myself out there. If you can think of an independent professional baseball league, chances are I tried out for a handful of teams in it. Maybe you’ve been in this predicament. An insurmountable battle against so many things; I was battling against my fears, my doubts, my identity, and not to mention other guys who are insanely talented. So with that mindset, I channelled all of that energy into my training. I received an email for a tryout in Atlanta, Georgia for an obscure league. I drove up from Miami and managed to do well enough to sign a contract. A few months later as “Spring Training“ approached, I received a phone call that the league wasn’t going to happen. My professional baseball career was over before the preseason started. In a silver lining, all the guys who got signed to this league received a major discount for the California Winter League, which is a pay to play prospect league. Even though it was a pay to play league, there were definitely some legit guys there who could absolutely ball. And it couldn’t hurt to go to Palm Springs and play in front of decision-makers for Independent Professional Baseball teams, so I decided to go to Palm Springs, California and chase the dream one last time. It lasted a month, but it didn’t go exactly as planned.
The first week everything was going so well. I was putting in innings at every infield position and consistently cracking the ball. Then I got sick. My throat swelled and ulcers started popping up all over the inside of my mouth. I ended up losing 30 pounds in two weeks. I was so feverish I couldn’t sleep for more than an hour at a time. My eyes became so crusty, when I’d wake up it’d take two minutes to fully open them. I survived on baby marshmallows and small doses of mashed potatoes. It‘s kind of funny now, but I’m still sick of baby marshmallows. Something similar happened to me the year before at my conference tournament my senior year of college, but it wasn’t nearly as aggressive as this time. I still couldn’t play most of the tournament though. I tried playing in what wound up being the last game of my college career. I played three innings of baseball pretty much blind, broke down crying, knew I couldn’t go anymore, and that was it. Laying in bed I started losing confidence, weight, and my outlook changed. I’d ask myself, ”Why? In the two most important moments of my life has my body betrayed me?” I tried making a comeback after two weeks in bed. Now playing primarily middle infield with my newly acquired slender frame. I came back too quickly. I couldn’t see quite right and my batting average showed it. At the end of the experience, we had a one on one meeting with our head coach for an exit meeting. He was a coach for an Independent League team, he was polite, personable, and honest. He let me know that I was becoming an interesting prospect until I got sick. He said I was tough for trying to comeback, but I didn’t quite do enough this time. I was crushed.
I went back to hangout with some of the other guys in my room before we all left in the next few days. I was chatting up Louis Cohen, a teammate and hotel next-door neighbor. He mentioned how he’s an ambassador for a website that finds international clubs for baseball players. I figured, hell why not? I felt like I still had it in me and I might be able to see some cool things along the way. So, the next day I signed up and in the days that followed I had arrived back in Miami, filmed myself doing some drills, gathered some college game tape, put my stats together, and arranged for some references; including Louis, my college coach, and my coach from the California Winter League. The next day I received an email from my first overseas club manager from Melbourne, Jake from Footscray. To go from thinking that my only options were to stay in Miami and start working or play in the Pecos League and grind, to now transitioning to a lifestyle where I can constantly travel and play baseball. What a Deus Ex Machina moment.
Fast forward two years and my life perspective has broadened so much. I’m interested in so many things I never considered to try in the past. With focusing on the quality of my diet, constantly exercising, and taking certain precautions, I haven’t been seriously ill since Palm Springs. I‘m currently playing my last season of baseball in Australia‘s Victoria Summer League Division II for the Werribee Giants. I‘ve been living with my girlfriend in a small beach town next to Wilson‘s Promontory for the last five months learning how to surf and transitioning to working online full time to continue my nomadic life. I really still can’t believe I’ve been so lucky. I owe so much of it to Baseball Jobs Overseas, Louis Cohen, and all my friends around the world.
I enjoy traveling, surfing, reading, exercising, baseball, and having a good time.
You can follow Justin’s overseas adventures via his Instagram @justingil27.
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.
After signing up for a membership I received several offers within as little as two weeks. The entire process was extremely easy due to the hands-on assistance of CEO David Burns who seemed to take a personal interest in my success. Signing up was quite literally one of the best decisions I’ve made in my life.
It has been nothing short of amazing. Everyone has been so welcoming. Although the softball has been great and I’ve made wonderful friends, I think learning about the Kiwi and Maori culture has been my favorite part of the experience. I could mever have imagined that softball could open so many doors and roads for me.
The BBJO website was the best thing that has happened to me in my baseball career. In a matter of two weeks after creating an account I was playing my first game in Australia. David and his team work quickly and efficiently.
From the bottom of my heart, I thank you and appreciate everything you, Jimmy, and everyone with
I have loved my experience with BBJO. You guys offer so much support I felt so comfortable and confident throughout the process. You can tell you care about players. There seems to be endless opportunities and the various offers made it a tough decision.