Baseball is truly a global sport. It is played all over the world throughout the year. As soon as baseball season ends in America, winter baseball leagues start up in warmer climates in Australia, Mexico and around the Caribbean.
Several players on the Baysox 2013 roster played baseball in different countries this past winter both to stay in shape during the offseason and also because it was an opportunity to see a different part of the world.
Baysox outfielder Buck Britton spent the winter in the Dominican Republic playing for the Leones del Escogido. Third baseman Zelous Wheeler traveled to Mexico to play for the Algonderos de Guasave.
"It was something I wanted to continue through the winter to get a different experience besides playing ball over here," Wheeler said. "It was a chance to go to another country and I thought 'why not, nothing to lose.' I was playing some pretty good baseball and I learned some new things."
Wheeler said spending time in Mexico opened his eyes to a different lifestyle than what he was used to growing up in Alabama.
"Playing baseball over there was a good experience," Wheeler said. "You take for granted some of the things they don't have over there. It's a lot different over there but you just go out and play. It was a great opportunity and I am thankful for that."
His experience on the baseball field was also a little bit different that what Wheeler is used to from games in the United States.
"The atmosphere from first pitch to last pitch - there is loud music the whole game and a lot of fans," Wheeler said. "They throw bottles on the field. They really watch the game and take pride in every game and every pitch."
Clearly it did not take Wheeler long to adjust to playing in Mexico as he dominated the league, hitting .328 with 10 home runs and 42 RBI in 63 games.
Playing for the Leones del Escogido, Britton was stationed in Santo Domingo, the capital city of the Dominican Republic.
"It was awesome," Britton said. "You get a feel for the culture. We were in the capital so we didn't stay on a resort. A lot of teams get trapped on a resort, but we were in a nice hotel in the capital where we could go out and experience the culture a little bit."
"We went to different beaches and went out to some resorts. We went to different hole in the wall restaurants and experienced the food. A lot of the stuff we did, we did with the other players - you didn't want five Americans just walking around down there by themselves. It was pretty cool. The food and the atmosphere was different - they party all the time so you walk down the side of the street and there will just be a park with a thousand people having a good time."
Britton was also happy with the competition he faced in the Dominican League. In nine games, he hit .235 with a double and an RBI on the team that eventually won the championship.
"That league is one of the best as far as competition - you are playing against big leaguers at all times," Britton said. "It definitely helped me stay in shape and it helps you get better. It's hard to go over there at the end of a long year when you are kind of tired and it forces you to compete against guys that are the real deal, so it definitely helped out."
Baysox Baseball - We'll Knock Your 'Sox Off. The Baysox 2013 season and 20th season of baseball at Prince George's Stadium is underway. Parking is free at every Baysox home game and tickets are available at www.baysox.com, or by calling the Baysox box office at (301) 464-4865.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.