Thursday, August 25, 2011

Going Going Back Back to Hungary Hungary

It's been a long time since I sent a baseball update, partly due to trying to perform 3 jobs this years: pitching in Germany, coaching in Hungary, and scouting all over Europe. Also on the pitching end there wasn't much good news to report as it was generally an awful season in Hamburg. I pitched well at times, but as this blog details, after 4 successful professional seasons, I hit a wall, physically and mentally. When I was released from my contract in Hamburg at the beginning of June, my team, HSV Stealers, was floundering on the brink of playoffs and eventually collapsed down the stretch. Meanwhile, I had taken up residency in Budapest Hungary to coach the Hungarian National Team the rest of the summer as we prepared for the European Championship Qualifier in Barcelona Spain. I resigned myself to the fact that my playing career could be finished.

After the tournament in Barcelona (where our squad was competitive against Spain, Finland, Ireland, and Switzerland but finished 4th out of 5), I returned to the States for my best mate, Adam Crabb's wedding in San Francisco and got ready for the last few classes of my law school career. Surprisingly I received two offers to pitch during this time: 1. to go to Armarillo Texas immediately to pitch in the minor league American Association and 2. to return to Europe at the end of the month for the Inter-League Playoffs, to play for the Hungarian based Janossmorja Rascals, one of the best teams in the regional super league.

Today I will fly to Vienna from Detroit after completing my first week of law school and pitch this weekend for the Rascals against the best teams from Croatia, Hungary, and Slovakia. You can follow the action on my blog as always, on my facebook page (!/pages/Justin-Prinstein/159331680763120) or European Baseball's best website - and game results will be on (if you can navigate in Hungarian).

At times I feel like quite the baseball mercenary, but the team I will play for, along with some other Americans, and former teammates living in Europe (Ty Eriksen and Sam Boone) is made up of about 7 players I coached on the Hungarian National Team, and as they compete against the best teams from other countries in the region, I felt a sense of pride in Hungarian baseball that I worked so hard this year to improve as a coach, and can hopefully help raise the level of play and awareness in the next two weeks. I also am grateful for the opportunity to finish the season (and maybe my career) on a positive note, and to pitch in some meaningful playoff games.

I appreciate the UDM Law School and my professors letting me continue my professional career in this manner. Thanks to my sponsors Vinci Gloves ( and 3n2 ( for outfitting me with great equipment for the season. Finally, I am thankful for the continued well wishes and support from all my family, friends, and colleagues on this email throughout my 5 years of professional baseball around the globe.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Back to Europe Round 5, Part 2 - Never Say No

So. The day after our European Qualifier ended in Barcelona - I raced to the airport to catch a flight back to Hamburg (to pick up my suitcase) and so I could fly out to Detroit, as originally booked way back in May, so I could eventually get over to San Francisco to attend the wedding of my best friend, Adam "Lobster Jackson" Crabb. It wasn't easy.

The Hungarian national team left Sunday morning, very early, about an hour or two after I stumbled back to the hotel with a gal to share a pint size bed less than a meter from my "road roommate"... Slept about 2 hours, packed efficiently and whisked off to the airport via taxi/train/shuttle. Upon arrival I was informed that the HU Federation, who I had watched book my ticket the day before via a third party website, actually had not paid for the ticket, so luckily I was at the airport a bit early and $500+ later I was on my way to Hamburg via one stop over in Brussels.

My flight arrived at 9PM, was picked up by my former Hamburg teammates, Daniel and Alex Harms, slept maybe an hour on the couch, then off to the airport again all my luggage in tow, arrived at 4AM for my 6AM flight to Amsterdam. A few hours later and some additional security, I was on my way to the U.S., didn't sleep more than about 2 hours, of course during the meals. Did meet my two favorite detroit hip-hoppers, Black Milk and Guilty Simpson, who played one show in Amsterdam and then flew back to Detroit almost as soon as they arrived.

Stayed in Detroit for one night, then another 8 AM flight to San Francisco for Crabby's wedding.
During these 5 precious days, finally back stateside, I suddenly had two incredible offers for someone who had an 8 E.R.A. in the German Bundesliga. I got an offer to go down to Armarillo Texas in the American Association and pitch for them for the rest of the season or fly back to Europe to play for the 2nd best team in Hungary, the Jannosmorja Rascals during the interleague finals (made up of the top teams from Slovakia, Croatia, and Hungary) as well as the Hungarian Cup playoffs. It begins Aug 26 with the interleague finals in Zagreb Croatia, a place I have never visited in all my time in Europe. But because I'm starting law school again (for my final year) in Detroit, I'm only going to play three weekends, from Aug 26 to Sept 11. This will cover most of their playoffs and I'm really looking forward to a totally new baseball experience, to be able to pitch again, especially when I thought this season was a lost cause. It gives me a chance to pitch meaningful games, do some batting as well, play alongside many guys I coached for the Euro Championships with the Hungarian national team, and of course see some good friends and neighbors back in Hungary.

This is the life of an international baseball vagabond. Never say no to a great offer because don't know when it could be your last chance. Always keep a bag/suitcase close by and halfway packed. When someone uses the words - "Croatia" and "Baseball" in the same sentence... say "yes."