Saturday, July 8th
The first week in Karlovac, Croatia is going pretty well. I spent three days observing and evaluating junior talent during their three-day Junior National Championships. There were only four teams in the tournament and most of the Croatian Junior National Team will come from three clubs, including Karlovac and Varazdin. Karlovac wound up winning the double elimination tournament much to the delight of the Karlovac wizard and organizer, Kruno Karin. Thursday came and I was off to Varazdin for a couple of days with my long time friend, Sasa Bekic. Sasa does the work of three coaches in Varazdin as he coaches the juveniles, cadets,juniors, and seniors and continues to play the game. He can definitely use some help.
It’s good to see some old friends in Varazdin and come Friday morning I’ll work with the young kids and help develop their baseball skills. Friday evening I spend four hours with the local organizer here, Goran Vucetic, trying to convince him to allow his Bekic to accompany me and the Juniors to Belgium. At long last I was successful.
The timing was right for me this trip to Varazdin as the Senior Club team was travelling to Split on the Adriatic the next morning. Anytime I get an opportunity to travl to the coast I won’t pass it up.
So on Saturday morning we are off and running. With the highway now completed, the trip to Split will only take 4.5 hours compared to the old 7 hours. Game time in Split is 5:00 and after some delays we are fortunate to arrive on time. Like many fields in Croatia and Europe, the baseball field is laid out across a soccer field. It makes for a short left or right field porch. And throw in a rough rugby field with no pitcher’s mound and you can almost predict the outcome. As prediction would have it, the Nada Split team beat Vindija Varazdin, 15-7, in a game that resembled a freshman high school game in the States. A fair share of walks and errors. Saturday night came quick but always time for a great Dalmatian seafood dinner. Split is a great tourist passageway for travelers from all over Europe on their way to one of the stunningly beautiful islands off the coast. I have made quite a few trips off shore but unfortunately I will be heading back inland tomorrow after the game. We begin the Junior National Training camp on Monday morning. By for now.