- Dan Brood
- The Times - Sports
Tigard grad Spencer Kreisberg will pitch for the Great Britain national baseball team next week
TIGARD - Spencer Kreisberg has proudly represented Tigard High School on the baseball diamond.
Kreisberg represented San Francisco State University when he played college baseball.
That's all well and good.
But, next week, when he takes the ball and steps onto the pitcher's mound, Kreisberg will be representing an entire country.
Kreisberg, 24, will get a taste of international baseball next week when he plays for the Great Britain national team that will compete in the Confederation of European Baseball Championship Qualifier tournament that will be held July 26-29 in Tel Aviv, Israel.
'I'm super excited and nervous at the same time,' Kreisberg said earlier this week. 'I don't really know what to expect. We'll see when I get there.'
Kreisberg, a 2005 Tigard High School graduate, is scheduled to leave for Tel Aviv today (Thursday). Once there, he'll meet the Great Britain coaching staff, and his teammates, face-to-face for the first time.
'I don't know anyone,' Kreisberg said. 'There are two guys on the team that I played against in college. That's it. I've talked to the (general manager) through email and I've talked to the pitching coach through email. It's all sort of shot in the dark. It's going to be an adventure.'
That adventure started more than a year ago, when, on Facebook, Kreisberg saw a photo of one of his San Francisco State teammates wearing a Great Britain national team baseball jersey.
'I asked him 'do you need pitching?'' Kreisberg said.
Kreisberg's quick enthusiasm likely has to do with his British heritage.
His father, Lou Kreisberg, was born in the England town of Ramsgate, Kent.
'It's pretty cool to play for your dad's country, and your grandfather's country,' Spencer Kreisberg said. 'That's the biggest reason why I wanted to do this.'
Kreisberg, a 6-foot-4, right-handed pitcher, tried to rush through all the contacts and paperwork in order to play for the team last year, but that didn't happen, as his passport didn't arrive in time.
But, this year, nothing was going to stop him.
'I got it all taken care of,' he said with a smile.
But, before playing baseball for the Great Britain national team, there was some other stuff to take care of - mainly, fundraising.
The team receives no funding from the government. And, as Kreisberg found out, baseball isn't exactly a top priority in the minds of the British.
'It's not big over there,' he said. 'I called some businesses over there, asking them if they'd like to make a donation, and they said 'We play cricket in England, not baseball.' I hope we can raise awareness of baseball over in England.'
Kreisberg did raise £450 through, among other things, a team run-a-thon. He is paying for the remaining cost of the trip.
But, he says, it's all worth it.
'I'm excited,' Kreisberg said. 'I can't wait for it to happen.'
He also can't wait to meet his teammates. Kreisberg said most of the team is made up of players from Great Britain. Although, there are players like himself, who have British heritage and played college baseball in the United States.
'I hope we all have a common bond,' Kreisberg said. 'We're all playing for the country. I hope we all have instant camaraderie.'
The team will have two days of two-a-day practices before the competition starts. The Great Britain team will play four games during the qualifier, which also includes teams from Lithuania, Israel and Georgia.
Kreisberg said he will be starting pitcher for Great Britain in one of its four games at the event.
The winning team will advance to play in the 2012 European Championships, which will be held in The Netherlands. But the Great Britain team is looking even beyond that.
'We're hoping to qualify for the 2013 World Baseball Classic,' Kreisberg said.
But first, the English team must triumph at the event to be held next week at the Yarkon Sports Complex in Tel Aviv.
'It's going to be different,' Kreisberg said. 'I expect there will be an army presence. After the tournament, we're going to get a day to travel around the area. That will be fun.'
But, for Kreisberg, this opportunity is about much more than having fun.
'When I had my last start in college, I never thought I'd start a game again,' Kreisberg said. 'I thought that was it. So I'm really looking forward to this. And I really want to do well - I can't stand losing.'
Kreisberg has certainly had his share of success.
After playing both baseball and football and Tigard High School, Kreisberg moved on to Los Medanos College in Pittsburg, Calif. He played two years of football and one year of baseball at Los Medanos. Playing at quarterback, Kreisberg was named the MVP for the football squad at Los Medanos.
From there, he transferred to San Francisco State University, where he played three years of baseball for the Gators. He finished his career at SFSU ranked fifth in innings pitched, seventh in strikeouts and tied for eighth in appearances in the school's all-time rankings.
Since then, Kreisberg, who studied Kinesiology at San Francisco State, has gotten involved in coaching.
Last year, he coached with the Tigard Twins Junior State baseball team over the summer.
Last winter, he coached basketball down in San Francisco. This past spring, he coached with the Tigard High School freshman baseball team.
He's been back coaching the Twins this summer, helping lead them to a berth in the state playoffs.
'Coaching is definitely in my future,' he said.
But first, he's more than happy to be slinging the baseball for Jolly Old England.