Lucas Farabaugh is as loyal to the Reds, Whites and Blues as they come, but because he also has a great love for the American pastime – baseball – he’s temporarily going to swap those Stars and Stripes for the Union Jack.
Farabaugh, a freshman at Ottawa High School, will play for Great Britain’s 15U national baseball team in the European Championship Qualifying Tournament in Valencia, Spain, Monday through July 23.
Farabaugh’s opportunity to play internationally comes as his mother, Joanna, is from Verwood in the UK. Because of this, her son has a dual passport and is eligible to play for the national team in the European tournament.
“It’s exciting, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” Farabaugh said. “I went there, of course, but I never thought I could or had the opportunity to play baseball there. … Now I’m going to meet new people, see new places, face new competitions outside of the United States, so it’s going to be very interesting and very fun.
It was during one of his family’s regular visits to Britain that they saw a trial notice for the national team, so inquiries were made. It was found that Lucas, then 11 years old, was eligible and was more than willing to participate in the adventure.
Although baseball in England has been shut down for the past few years by the global pandemic, it is now revived and ready to resume domestic and international play. Through 10 months of virtual tryouts and interviews, and thanks to Farabaugh’s stats and videos from his long travel balloon career, the future Ottawa Pirate made the team.
“For us, it’s a big deal. It’s basically playing in the baseball version of the soccer World Cup,” said Kane Farabaugh, Lucas’ father. go, but it didn’t work out. Although I’m here, Lucas will be alone with the team, traveling, eating, training, staying in hotels with the team. …
“It’s kind of like the ultimate baseball camp, really.”
Once there, Lucas will take part in three days of camps in London and Valencia, preparing for a five-game roster in the Valencia teams pool. Great Britain will face Turkey on Monday, then will meet several days in a row Belgium, Israel, Switzerland and finally Spain.
Based on the standings, Great Britain will then play the corresponding team in the standings from the pool in Budapest, Hungary.
Teams from Russia and Belarus have not been invited to the tournament due to recent events in Ukraine, although Ukraine will field a team to play in the Budapest pool.
If Great Britain wins it, they will qualify for the World Baseball Classic.
Because there are less than 1,000 young baseball players in Britain, it’s questionable what quality of baseball Farabaugh will see at this event. However, note that Britain’s senior team was ranked No. 3 in the world last fall, and the fact that Major League Baseball is reaching out to that country and should continue to send its teams there, as the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox did it a year ago, it’s creating growing enthusiasm for the sport.
“Obviously, to be on this team you have to have a high level of baseball skill,” Kane Farabaugh said. “Although baseball isn’t as robust in other countries, there’s still a very high standard that you have to live up to. … It’s the real deal, flying the flag of Great Britain. That’s all an honor.
Although he also participates in football, cross country, basketball, soccer, and swimming (with the Ottawa Dolphins), Farabaugh prefers baseball and is quite successful there. He played for the Shepherd Middle School team that won an IESA region in 2020, was an Ottawa Junior League All-Star, and is a receiver, pitcher, and infielder for the 14U team at Rhino Baseball Academy in Shorewood.
“Baseball is the best, and probably the one I’m the best at,” Farabaugh said. “I don’t feel any pressure to play this [international] level. It’s more just excitement. I can go somewhere I’ve never been to play the game I love. It’s all going to be great fun.
One of his hitting coaches is two-time World Series champion Scott Speizio. Prior to his 12-season career with the A’s, Angels, Mariners and Cardinals, the Morris native was a member of the 1990 U.S. Junior Olympic team that played in Cuba.
He is confident that Farabaugh will have a great experience overseas.
“I know how exciting it is, so I’m really happy for Lucas,” Speizio said of international play. “He is a hard worker. One day he’s working on his kicks for football, the next he’s winning swimming events, and after that he’s playing in a baseball tournament in Iowa. It’s crazy… but the cool thing is he still wants to be here, he loves the game, he’s still focused and he’s very coachable. He’s a great defensive player and he does a great job of hitting.
“I told him I had a great time. Cuba was tough back then, but I know he’ll be in a better place. … He’ll learn more about the game and get a lot of friends. He’s going to have a blast.”