July 22, 2008
ATLANTA – Various members of the 2008 Georgia Tech baseball team are participating in summer ball in the Cape Cod, Northwoods, Coastal Plain and Cal Ripken Leagues while others have already signed pro baseball contracts. Every week throughout the summer a different Yellow Jacket will blog about their experience. This week, Derek Dietrich checks back in from oversees.
Greetings from USA Baseball in the Czech Republic!!!
Since my last entry the US National Team has traveled extensively and has enjoyed many cultural and baseball experiences. After playing (& sweeping) Chinese Taipei in a series of six “Friendship Games” in the states, we have truly become friends with them. In fact, after several days of talking, joking and trading, I predict that CT apparel will be appearing at colleges all across the United States this fall.
We began our European tour when we departed the National Training Complex in Cary, North Carolina, bussed to Dulles Airport, flew to Frankfurt, Germany, then to the Netherlands, and arrived in Haarlem over fourteen hours later. It was the first time many of us had been on a double-decker plane and had flown so long and far. After almost a month on the road, we finally unpacked for the first time in Europe.
Upon arriving, we quickly discovered that the Netherlands is a beautiful country with friendly, hospitable people. Hotel Haarlem was very comfortable and the staff catered to our American appetites. Alarmingly, each morning at 5:00 we were awakened by wild roosters’ cock-a-doodling, which may explain our delicious chicken dinners! Pim Muller Stadium was a bustling place where thousands of Dutch fans supported “honkbal” (baseball in Dutch) and the teams enthusiastically. Although it rained daily, we played all of our scheduled games, due to a fantastic grounds crew (like ours at the Rusty C). Except for the roosters, we felt very welcome in the Netherlands and enjoyed a great week of baseball on an international stage.
Already, we have learned that international competition is both exciting and interesting. Each nation plays a little differently. Japan plays with personality, China and Chinese Taipei with speed, and the Dutch Caribbean with strength. The Netherlands and Cuba are highly-competitive Olympic teams comprised of veteran players who are European and Olympic medalists. Playing the seasoned 2004 Athens gold-medalist Cuban team was extremely intense and winning two close games was an amazing and unforgettable accomplishment. Dominant pitching, timely and powerful hitting, and stellar defense enabled our US National Team to beat Cuba twice, win the 2008 Haarlem Baseball Week, and to make history! Winning the championship game and standing on the podium together to proudly accept the trophy for the United States of America, while red, white and blue streamers shot over our heads, was an extraordinary moment for all of us!
On our way to the IV FISU World Collegiate Baseball Championships we made a brief stop at the sparkling Armin-Wolfe Arena in Regensburg, Germany. Although, this picturesque country was the homeland of my great-grandfather, there was not a single Dietrich on the German National Team, whom we beat 9-3. After a short night of sleep and another long day of travel, we reached Ostrava, in northeastern Czech Republic, ready to face Team Czech in a pre-tournament game, which we won 5-0. To date, we have won four games in the Czech (1-Korea, 2-Czech, and 1-Lithuania), and we’ll play Canada, Japan and Chinese Taipei before the finals, which are our ultimate goal.
The Czech Republic is quite different from anywhere we have visited. Our first residence of Ostrava, a former industrial city in the process of restructuring, still lacks many modern conveniences (telephones & wall clocks). However, Brno (a two-hour train ride from Bratislava, the ancestral home of my great-grandfather Demeter), where we moved today, is a breathtaking cultural center with a castle, cathedrals, museums, shopping malls and all the latest technology. And to our delight, our new Hotel Avanti is not only attractive but the food is great! (Pasta, rice and chicken-but thankfully no fowl in sight)
While we have enjoyed all of our cultural and baseball experiences, we have one mission – to bring GOLD home to the USA. Personally, it has been an honor to be a member of this awesome US National Team. Through this honor, I have traveled the US and the world, visited the homeland of two great-grandfathers, witnessed how other nations live, met many interesting people, played extremely competitive international baseball and made friends from all across the country (Thanks USA teammates, coaches & staff for everything!) Although I will always cherish these valuable memories, when I return to the United States, I look forward to spending time with my family. After a couple of weeks, I’ll be anxious to see all my GT friends, and to play ball with my teammates and coaches on the Flats this fall! Until then, have a great end of summer. GO JACKETS! GO USA!
For Tech fans interested in following what Derek Dietrich and the rest of our players are doing this summer, check out the Summer Baseball Tab on the sidebar of the Georgia Tech baseball page, where updates are posted every morning on current members of the Georgia Tech baseball team. Tech fans can also follow what former Yellow Jackets are up to by clicking on the Alumni In the Pros Tab on the main page of Ramblinwreck.com. Daily updates are posted of all former Yellow Jackets playing professional baseball – both in the major and minor leagues.
-June 11- Read Zach Brewster’s BLOG FROM THE CAPE
-June 17- Read Derek Dietrich’s BLOG FROM TEAM USA
-June 25- Read Chase Burnette’s BLOG FROM THE CAL RIPKEN LEAGUE
-July 7- Read Deck McGuire’s BLOG FROM THE COASTAL PLAIN LEAGUE
-July 13- Read Chris House’s BLOG FROM THE NORTHWOODS LEAGUE