Mazarakis and Greek Baseball Help Out Serbia
Posted on 7 June, 2011 by kcorona
Last week, the Serbian representative club Beograd ’96, traveled to Athens, Greece, to compete in the Confederation of European Baseball’s Qualifier Tournament for the European Cup. As we approached the stadium in the Glyfadas area of Athens, I was amazed by the remnants of the practice areas for the 2004 Olympics. The facilities where the competition was to take place were top notch. Each dugout featured a full locker room, showers, and training rooms. Batting cages and flawless bullpens lined each foul area, which could be seen from one of the three-hundred plus stadium seats behind home plate. As I looked at this amazing facility I thought to myself, “How amazing would it be to have half of something like this in Serbia?”
Surrounding the field were brand new L-screens, hitting screens, field screens, and batting cages with hardly used Mizuno pitching machines inside. I was truly in awe of everything I saw in Greece. Though the baseball field at Ada Ciganlija in Belgrade is much better than it has been in the past, it pales in comparison to the former Olympic practice facility. Much of the field equipment alone would help improve the condition of the field in Belgrade. I continued thinking to myself, “If only we had some of this…”
At the end of the tournament, I was fortunate enough to speak to Mr. Tom Mazarakis about the possibility of taking some equipment back to Belgrade. In our case, field equipment is very much needed since it doesn’t exist in Serbia, and most of the tools we need aren’t easily manufactured. I asked if the Greek Baseball Federation had an extra steel field drag they may be willing to part with. Smiling, and in a simple voice, Mr. Mazarakis replied, “Yeah, we have one of those, anything else?” Mr. Mazarakis had already given us a line-chalker, which will improve the legitimacy of the sole baseball field in Serbia, so I shyly asked if they may be willing to part with a home plate mat (which helps pack the dirt around the batter’s boxes and saves the area from the wear-and-tear of batting practices). Once again, Mr. Mazarakis replied, “Yeah, I think we have one of those, let’s go see”, and he lead a few of us to a storage room which housed used and unused field equipment from the 2004 Olympics.
We left the tournament with a line chalker, professional home plate, pitching rubbers, field drag, and a few other items free of cost. Mr. Mazarakis and the Greek Baseball Federation made a great contribution to Serbian baseball, and we can’t thank them enough for their generosity. We look forward to future dealings with them.