Archive for Thursday, August 3, 2006

Lansing Cubs infielder Lewis to play in Italy

August 3, 2006

If this is the end of Robert Lewis' baseball career, than he picked one heck of a way to go out.

Lewis, a 2006 Basehor-Linwood High School graduate and member of the Lansing Cubs, will close out his summer baseball schedule by playing in a three-day international tournament in Italy.

"If I don't ever get to play competitively again, this is a good way to end it," Lewis said.

The tournament, arranged by Olathe-based non-profit organization USA Athletes International, will take place in Tuscany, Italy.

Lewis didn't go searching for an opportunity to play internationally. Instead, the opportunity found him. Lewis attended a senior showcase baseball camp at the University of Kansas in late October. Nothing came of it, or so he thought. Then, in December, he received a phone call from a representative of USAAI.

"At first I kind of thought it was a scam, just some guy wanting to get money," Lewis said. "I gave the phone to my dad, and he started talking to him. Then we got some more information and started reading more about it online. It looked legit and looked like it would be a lot of fun."

Lewis said he jumped at the opportunity for a few reasons. The main one, he said, was that he's never been overseas.

Lewis departed Aug. 1 and return Aug. 9. He said the first few days of the trip would consist of traveling, getting situated and practicing. Then there will be three straight days of baseball. He said the final two days are reserved for sightseeing.

"I've tried to get some information to learn some basics for getting around so I can speak some Italian and learn some currencies," he said of his travel preparation.

As a novice traveler, he admitted he is a bit nervous and doesn't know what to expect.

"Especially since I'm going to be traveling by myself," he said. "It's mostly just nerves. I'm getting excited, getting antsy, just looking forward to it."

Lewis said he also is intrigued by the chance to play against international players.

"I'm sure there's lots I can gain because I'll get to see all the different arms and I'll get to see a lot of different pitches. There'll probably be some stuff I've never seen," he said.

Once Lewis returns to the United States, he will have a few days to recover. Then it's off to college at Pittsburg State.

Lewis said he plans to try to walk on to the baseball team at PSU. If he makes it, he'll be happy. If he doesn't, Lewis said he'd still be OK. After all, he'll always have his memories of Italy.


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