By Ray Hamill — Never before has the opposing dugout at the Arcata Ball Park seen such an international collection of players.
On Tuesday night, the Perth Heat played the Humboldt Crabs, one of several games in the area this week for the traveling club, with players from 14 different countries on hand.
Head coach Steve Fish, who played at College of the Redwoods and for the Humboldt Crabs, has been traveling with the club throughout the West Coast every summer for the past decade.
He always makes a week-long stop in Humboldt, bringing his international all-stars to his old stomping ground, but he has never had such a diverse group as the 2021 squad.
The roster includes players from just about every continent, representing countries like Germany, England, Venezuela, Indonesia, Hong Kong, Dubai and Australia, among many others.
“We have players from all the places I’ve been to,” said the long-time Boston Red Sox scout who has coached baseball all over the world. “The first team I brought here, we only had players from Perth, and then the next year we had players from Dubai, and after that I just started getting kids from everywhere.”
The traveling club annually features anywhere from two to four teams who play games almost every day for a month throughout the West Coast.
This year, Fish has two teams in the area for the week and will play games against all the local American Legion clubs in addition to the Crabs.
Fish played for the Crabs from 1994-96, playing alongside local coaching legend Matt Tomlin at the Arcata Ball Park.
He also played with the Anaheim Angels organization for seven years.
For the visiting players, who are used to playing only once a week in their own countries, the experience of coming to the States and playing games every day for a month is one they relish.
“The first time they come over the game is really fast for them,” the coach said. “Seeing the speed of the American players, for the first couple of weeks it’s tough to catch up. But they all swing the bat pretty well.
“They love it. They come out with a lot of energy and enthusiasm. They want to get better.”
Fish maintains a close friendship with Tomlin and many people in the area, and expressed his gratitude to St. Bernard’s for helping out his club this summer.
“I want to give a big thank you to St. Bernard’s for putting us up in the dorms,” Fish said. “Without them we couldn’t do this.”