Illustrative photo – Press conference for the departure of the Czech baseball team to Tokyo for the World Baseball Classic tournament, February 28, 2023, Prague. Head coach of the national team Pavel Chadim.
Tokyo – A well-rounded team with a passion for the game and a willingness to work hard is the basis for the visibility of Czech baseball at home and in the world, coach Pavel Chadim said in a press release after the first appearance of the national team at the prestigious World Baseball Classic (WBC) tournament. He was proud of the players, according to him, the youngsters gained experience and the goal is now to win the first Czech medal at the European Championship.
Baseball players have already caused a stir by advancing to the WBC, which is organized by the overseas Major League Baseball (MLB) and the matches are attended by the stars of the best competition in the world.
The Czech team, made up of players working, studying or playing baseball abroad and at American universities, showed its qualities in Tokyo and was in the game for advancing to the quarterfinals until the last game. He started the tournament with a win over China and then played solid matches against the Japanese, Koreans and Australians. “I am proud of the boys. Who would have thought half a year ago that we would play such great baseball here and be recognized by the world,” said Chadim.
At the press conference after the last match, he explained how he assembled the team. He drew attention to the fact that he knows his charges from the youth categories. “I took the best, those with maximum passion for the game and the hardest workers. Captain Petr Zýma and Martin Červenka are great leaders,” Chadim said.
Experienced players like Červenka and pitcher Martin Schneider were complemented by youngsters. An example is nineteen-year-old Michal Kovala, Europe's greatest pitching hope. “They have big careers ahead of them. They gained a lot of experience that they can apply in the future,” believes Chadim.
He hoped that his team would demonstrate new experience and strength already in September. Chadim wants to lead baseball players to the first precious metal from the European Championship. “As a player, I tried to do this thirty years ago, and the next three generations tried in vain,” he pointed to the fact that the Czech Republic's best result at the European Championship is fourth place in 2014. At the next three championships, the Czech team finished fifth.
Tournament in Japan, coach excited. Especially the fans there, that's why he came to the press conference with a Japanese headband on his head to pay tribute to them. “They are the best in the world,” Chadim said. He thinks that some Czech players would really like to play in Japan. “And the Japanese could play in the Czech league or European leagues, that would help the development of baseball all over the world,” Chadim added.
After the team's last game at the WBC, the coach was moved. He thanked his first coach, Geoff Samuels, with whom he won the extra-league title for the first time for Draky Brno. He also mentioned other foreign coaches who helped the national team – Jim Jones or Stan Luketich. But he mainly thanked Bill Holmberg, who helped create the development program in Czech baseball and died in 2020 at the age of 67. “This tournament was for you, Bill,” Chadim said with tears in his eyes.