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Meet the Sox: Assistant Coach Jason Pospishil12/07/2010 4:30 PM ET
By Tyler Maun / Sydney Blue Sox
SYDNEY - For Sydney Blue Sox assistant coach Jason Pospishil, like so many baseball lovers the world over, it was always a family affair.
'"My dad was a cricket player," says Pospishil, a lifelong baseball fan, former professional player, and now, coach. "He played baseball in the winter. Baseball was originally a winter sport in Australia, so all his cricket team would play baseball in the winter to stay in shape. That's how I first came across the game. I played cricket and baseball as a kid in school, but I stuck with baseball because I thought I was better at that."
Not a bad bet. Pospishil, or "Pops" as he's known in the baseball world, is a Sydney-area native who grew up like so many current Australian Baseball Leaguers dreaming of the bright lights and green fields of professional baseball. Like the chosen few who have seized their moment, Pospishil made it.
After a pair of impressive performances as an amateur in the Under-16 nationals in 1998 and the Under-18 tournament two years later, he caught the eye of the Minnesota Twins who signed him to a minor league contract at the start of the new millennium. In the way of many making their foray into professional ball in the States, Pospishil was baptized by fire in a unique world 10,000 miles from home.
"It was definitely different," he reflects now on his two seasons in Minor League Baseball during which he made stops with Twins affiliates in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League and Appalachian League. "I've always been such a small guy [listed during his playing career at 173 cm, 73 kg according to his Baseball Reference page], and when I went over there, it was like a boy playing against men. I was playing against guys who had four years of college baseball."
"I'll never forget my first day, I arrived late," Pops recounts today, leaning back in a chair in the Blacktown Olympic Park press box. "I got to Fort Myers [home of the Twins' facility in Florida] in April in extended spring training. At like 10:30 at night, my flight landed, trainer picked me up, went to the hotel. I couldn't sleep, had jet lag, so I went with the trainer to the field at like 5 o'clock [the following morning], and I was sitting in the manager's chair in his office. He walked in, and it was Al Newman who won two World Series with the Twins in '87 and '91 and was later a third base coach for the Twins.
"He comes up to me, and he goes, 'You doing ok, son? Can I get you anything?' I said, 'No, no, I'm cool, just got a bit of jetlag.' He said, 'Are you enjoying your vacation?'"
Pops stops and smiles as he retells the story. "And I said, 'No, I'm here to play.' He said, 'Oh shoot, I'm sorry, man! I thought you were some other guy's son here to be a batboy or something.' So my professional career was pretty much doomed from that day when my manager thought I was a bat boy because I was so small."
Released by the Twins organization after the 2003 season, Pospishil returned home and got into coaching. Following stints in professional ball in Croatia and Japan, the 27-year-old now finds himself on a Blue Sox staff comprised of some of his home nation's best baseball minds.
"My dream was always to be a Major League Baseball player," he says. "I worked my butt off to try and get there, and it just didn't work out...The coaching side, I've always enjoyed the game within the game so to speak, learning different things and being able to instruct and teach players and play that game of chess with the opposition manager. That's always been something that's really excited me. The coaching side of things was my next goal if I couldn't make it to the big leagues as a player. This opportunity to coach with Willo and the rest of the staff is just a fantastic opportunity. I didn't want to let that go."
To work on a staff with manager Glenn Williams and pitching coach Chris Oxspring, both former major leaguers, as well as Australian baseball legend Graheme Cassel is another springboard to greatness for Pospishil.
"It's been an absolute honor, to be honest. When I was a kid and I used to go and watch the ABL, I used to watch Willo, and I used to watch Ox, and I used to watch Casso...we've got two guys there who are ex big leaguers, and Casso has been around the game forever. I continue to learn from them. I also learn from the players. The caliber of players we have on this team is unbelievable."
"And there's even better guys to come."