Today we get the chance to visit with Matt Winter, an American playing in Sweden. Matt was kind enough to answer a few questions for us about how he got to Sweden and what’s its like to play overseas.
Tell us a little bit about your baseball background. How did you wind up in Laredo, Texas playing college ball?
My baseball background goes as such, i began playing the game at 5 years old and haven’t stopped since. I played all the way from t-ball to high school and then received a scholarship to Ellsworth Community College in Iowa Falls, Iowa. I was there for 2 years and then got a scholarhship to Texas A&M International University down in Laredo and took it! I chose tamiu because it was in the south and its every Iowa junior college baseball player to get out of the cold and get to warmer weather and high quality baseball. I graduated from Texas A&M International University in May of 2011 with a bachelor’s degree in business administration.
In 2011, you played in the Arizona Summer League. What was that experience like?
The Arizona Summer league was a big step for me in my baseball career. After college i still wanted to play and had something to prove, going undrafted i wanted to break into the independant leagues. I went to a tryout in Detroit, Michigan called the Indy pro showcase, i was invited to the Arizona summer league after completing the showcase. Once i arrived in Yuma and begain playing against some of the best amature players in the world i knew i had what it takes to play baseball at the next level. I hit .343 for the summer and I was on my way.
After leaving college, you started playing overseas. What made you decide that was what you wanted to do?
Playing baseball overseas was my only option at that time to continue playing. I didn’t have much going at the time as far as a job and and i was ready for an adventure, i was ready to go do something special. I love the game of baseball and as a young man having alot of success in the game i knew there was a spot out there for me. It has been one of the best decisions i have ever made.
You used Teammates International to help find a position overseas. Tell us about your experience with them?
Its as simple as this, if it wasn’t for Duane Erickson and Teammates International I would have never gotten the oppertunity to play overseas and my life would be completely different right now, my career would have been over. I am very thankful for Duane and everything he has done for me as a player. He has been there for me the whole way and I have nothing but good things to say about him.
Your first stop overseas was in Sydney, Australia. Can you tell us a little bit about what it was like to play in Australia?
Australia was an incredible experience for me both on and off the baseball field. I learned so much about myself and about life. It was my first time outside the U.S. and i had to adapt and changing the way i looked at things. The baseball was great, very competitive and a higher level than college ball. Sydney was a great city i had alot of great times there and it’s an experience that i will never forget. There were alot of ups and downs during my time there and I have grown alot as a baseball player and as a person.
This season you are with Goteborg in Sweden. Tell us a little bit about that. How did you find your way to Sweden and how has it been so far?
I found my way here to Sweden again through Teamates International. They set me up with the Gothenburg Sharks and the rest is history! Sweden has been absolutley great, i have loved every minute of it. It really has been a special summer for me and I’m very happy over here!
You are having a nice season with Gothenburg so far. What is the competition like there?
The competition is good, we play at the elite level which is the highest level of baseball in Sweden. Alot of teams here rely heavily on there imports but as a whole the level of baseball is pretty competitive. I have been able to play at a high level all summer and it’s really made things that much better! Sweden is not known for there baseball but i’m enjoying it alot here!
What do you do when you are not playing? Do you have responsibilities to youth programs or do you get to do a lot of traveling?
I coach the Gothenburg regional team which is made up of non elite series players, as well as coach junior players, i do that twice a week! I do have time to travel around I just got back from the Swiss alps and have done alot of traveling throughout Sweden.
What are your plans in the future? Do you hope to continue around the European circuit like many others?
My plans are really up in the air right now, i’m just taking it one day at a time and seeing what happens! Its been alot of fun this summer and I have been doing this international baseball thing for a year now and if i get the oppertunity to keep playing i believe i will keep going!
We’d like to thank Matt for taking the time out of his busy schedule to answer a few questions for us. If you are interested more in following Matt’s season with Gothenburg, you can follow him on Twitter at @MattWinter17.
We wish Matt good luck the rest of the season and wherever the rest of 2012 and beyond might take him on the diamond.
Eric Bynum is Managing Editor here at BaseballdeWorld. He spent three years as an ESL teacher in South Korea, and is now working on his master's degree in history with a focus on baseball and WWII. He has played and/or written about baseball for the past 30 years and is an avid Atlanta Braves fan.