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Thursday, June 30, 2011

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rosen to play for british national team

While many Americans will celebrate 235 years of independence this weekend, Brett Rosen is celebrating the fact that we haven’t completely cut ties with England.

Rosen, a rising sophomore catcher on the Muhlenberg baseball team, was selected to play for Team Great Britain in the upcoming European Baseball Championship qualifying tournament.

Rosen and his 20 teammates will meet in Tel Aviv, Israel, on July 18 to begin practice for the four-team tournament that will determine one of the last
Brett and AJ Rosen
Brett and AJ Rosen - sporting his Team Great Britain jacket - in Vancouver.
five qualifiers for the 2012 European Baseball Championship in the Netherlands. The games are July 26-29 and will pit Great Britain against Lithuania, Israel and Georgia.

Since his mother was born in Great Britain and moved to the United States as a teenager, Rosen is a dual citizen of the two countries. And he won’t be the first member of his family to engage in international sports competition.

Rosen’s older brother, Adam (AJ) Rosen, represented Great Britain in the luge at the last two Winter Olympics, at Torino in 2006 and Vancouver in 2010. He finished 16th both times.

Brett, who traveled to both Olympic Games to watch his brother compete, learned about the baseball opportunity from his mother. The Team Great Britain head coach was supposed to visit Muhlenberg to watch Rosen play this past season, but his freshman year was cut short by a bout with mononucleosis.

After Rosen returned to full health, he had a successful one-on-one tryout with the former head coach, who lives not too far from Rosen's hometown of New Rochelle, N.Y. “He recommended me, and the rest is history,” said Rosen.

Only a handful of players on Team Great Britain compete in the country’s National Baseball League. The rest are Australians, Canadians and Americans who either were born in Great Britain and moved away or, like Rosen, are citizens because of their parents. The coaching staff is Canadian.

Great Britain is currently ranked 21st in the world by the International Baseball Federation (Cuba and the United States are first and second, respectively).
Brett Rosen
Rosen had five hits in 22 at-bats for the Mules, including a 3-for-4 effort against Salve Regina.
The team matched its best finish ever by winning a silver medal at the 2007 European Baseball Championship and went 2-4 at the most recent tournament, in 2010.

The catcher on the 2007 second-place team was Mike Nickeas, who saw time with the New York Mets earlier this season.

“Luckily for me he’s in the minor leagues now, so I might get some playing time,” joked Rosen.

Rosen, who is playing summer ball for the Pelham Mets and working a local youth baseball camp, hasn’t met anyone else from the national team. But he knows from talking to the head coach that most of the pitching staff is veterans, who should help Rosen ease into his role.

“For right now, I just hope to get some playing time and help us qualify for the European Championship so we can go to Holland next summer,” said Rosen.

A win in Israel would also help ease the sting of the abrupt end to Rosen’s first collegiate season, which began with him starting seven of the Mules' first 15 games behind the plate. His last appearance was a big 3-2 win against local rival Moravian, which would go on to win 30 games. The day after the game, Rosen got the bad news.

“It was disappointing, especially since I was starting to get some playing time,” said Rosen. “But I’m glad I came to Muhlenberg. The outcomes were not all favorable but I felt [the season] was a turn for the upside.”

When Rosen returns to the Mule baseball team in the fall, he might bring back with him a trace of the slight English accent he had when he was younger. He’ll definitely bring back a unique experience.

“I really just lucked out - without my mom I wouldn’t have this opportunity,” he said. “It’s still really surreal. It’s very different representing a high school or a college compared to representing a whole country. It’s kind of mind-boggling.”

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