Ian Young has played domestic baseball in Britain, Sweden, The Netherlands, Germany, Portugal, and France, he has competed in international baseball for Great Britain since 2001, and he also played collegiate ball in the United States.
Thank you to Matt for his help with the questions and to Ian for taking the time to talk to BaseballGB.
Ian, you were born in Sydney, Australia so most people would have expected you to be a cricketer. How did you get into baseball?
I think a few different things went into me playing baseball. My parents for sure played a role in choosing baseball for me when I was small, and this was helped a little by my dad, who worked for Qantas and travelled a lot. This travel led to him becoming a fan of professional baseball in the US (Giants fan) and Japan (also a Giants fan) as well as being friends with Lefty O’Doul. I did also play other sports growing up, including cricket, golf and soccer; however, when it came time to choose a sport, I was most interested in baseball.
Your time in college was spent at several different places. What was it like playing college baseball in the States and how did your team-mates react to you as a non-American playing the national pastime?
College baseball was a lot of fun and a big learning experience for me. We do not play as much in Australia, just like in Europe, so when you hit the ground in college and are expected to perform on an everyday basis it takes a little adjustment. My team-mates were always great (and I am sure it was quiet a novelty to have a Euro/Aussie on the team), and I made a lot of friends in the US that I remain in contact with to this day.
Having played in Britain, Sweden, The Netherlands, Germany, Portugal and France, you’ve got a wealth of knowledge about baseball throughout Europe. Can you explain what the baseball culture is like in each place: how are they similar and what major differences have you come across?
I have been very lucky to have been given the opportunity to experience baseball while being surrounded by so many great cultures. There is no doubt that each country has a style all of their own; however, the determination and desire to win is present in all the nations. What is interesting is hearing all the different words that are unique to each nation as well as what foods you can find in the concessions stand.
You made the Elite Division final in France with Les Templiers de Senart last year and also played in the European Cup. What is the standard of play like in France and how does it compare to other European leagues?
The French Elite league is a pretty good league. You don’t have to look far past the teams of Rouen, Savigny and Senart to see some pretty good players that compete at the European level, and then the other teams are also pretty handy. Some of the toughest games I have played in Europe involve games against Rouen and Savigny; these teams never quit, and instantly seem to have the ability to pile on the runs, as we did from time to time as well.
Individually France has some pretty good players too, with some interesting stories and careers, from the Meurant dynasty to the Dubauts to players that have played pro ball in Japan, Major Leaguers playing in France before they make the bigs and French guys that have played in college.
Turning to the international scene, you’ve been a mainstay in the British lineup since the 2001 European Baseball Championships. How did you first get involved with the Great Britain set up?
It has been a long time since I joined the GB team! I first became involved in 2000 after I came to play in Windsor during my first northern summer vacation from the University of Hawaii. I met with the coaches during some of our domestic league games and they asked me to come and play with team GB in LA at the end of the year. At that tournament Alex Smith, Geoff Freeborn and myself all played for GB for the first time and we met Brad Marcelino and Alex Malihoudis.
What have been your most memorable moments during your international career so far?
I think beating Russia and Spain in 2001 and 2007 respectively were pretty awesome experiences, especially as in 2001 Russia won the silver and in 2007 we played Spain at home on opening night and surprised everybody. They were both great teams.
You hit a grand slam in the Marcus Trescothick benefit game last September. What did you think of the event and do you feel baseball could foster any more links with cricket?
I think that was a fantastic event for us and cricket. It was a lot of fun and I think we all learned a lot from the event.
Away from the ballpark, you work for the IBAF. What does your job entail?
For the IBAF I am involved with the World Cup as well as developing and implementing some web initiatives. The goal here is to help increase the visibility of the game in Europe and around the world. This to me is really exciting as I really feel this will help develop our sense of community and show how global the game of baseball truly is.
The World Cup promises to be a great tournament. What are your expectations for the event, both from the Team GB point of view and for European baseball as a whole?
I think GB has the opportunity to do very well. The pool will be tough, especially opening against Japan; however, I think they have a chance to go on to the second round and beyond. For Europe this is a great opportunity to focus the world game onto the European community. It is a very exciting opportunity.
This concludes the series of Q&As with Great Britain team members.