After working in Germany since 2009 coaching professional and national baseball, longtime Battle Ground area coach Don Freeman is now assuming multiple coaching roles with the U23 and senior teams for the country.
Since April 12, Freeman has taken on a greater role for the German National Team. For the U23 team, Freeman is the assistant hitting coach and the third base coach during games.
This summer, Freeman helped coach during the U23 European tournament and saw his team make history.
“We placed fourth out of eight. For the first time in the history of Germany, we beat Italy and the Netherlands. They’re always the top two teams,” Freeman said. “Of course, in the last five years, the Czech Republic has really come up. They played well in the World Baseball Classic this year.”
In the late innings of two games, Freeman said pitching mistakes cost the U23 Germany team a spot in the championship game against the Netherlands for a gold medal. Overall, Freeman was pleased with how the U23 team did in the tournament.
The senior team’s tournament will take place in Prague, Czech Republic, and the competition will include some higher-level European teams. That tournament doesn’t start until September, Freeman said.
“It’s a great tournament, and I coached on the senior team four times in the European Championships. It’s great competition,” Freeman said. “It’s a lot of fun, draws big crowds and Czech is very, very central in European baseball, having already qualified for the next World Baseball Classic with their showing in the last one.”
With the Czech Republic team already proving successful at the previous World Baseball Classic, Freeman has seen baseball in Europe really skyrocket in popularity. The Czechs organized their team differently than other countries, Freeman explained. A lot of countries in Europe bring on foreign players who are eligible to play for that country with a passport and family background or residence. Freeman said, about eight years ago, the Czech Republic limited the foreign player count to only one per team, where most teams have at least three. The Czech philosophy has blossomed faster than anticipated and has worked very well, Freeman said.
In addition to coaching in Europe, Freeman’s work of supplying baseball equipment to South American countries is still ongoing and could even expand soon.
Freeman said previously, one of his favorite memories related to his work in South American Countries was donating gear to an impoverished family in Ecuador. A girl and her family had next to nothing, but she wanted to be a softball catcher, so Freeman provided her with a new donated set of catcher’s gear.
“You could see the joy on her face. The smile was just imprinted on her face, but more importantly, her parents were standing there and they had tears rolling down their faces,” Freeman said earlier this year. “You see something like that, and you’re going, ‘I got to do this more.’ ”
For the most part, Freeman’s Facebook posts have netted him the gear he donates, but he believes that method will become less successful.
Anyone who would like to donate baseball or softball gear to Freeman for his efforts in South America can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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