It’s very rare when you get to interview someone with as much baseball experience as Brian Essery.
Essery played three years in Independent baseball for the Welland Aquaducks of the North Atlantic League and Altoona of the Heartland League. In his three years of pro ball, he pitched in nearly 200 innings while compiling a 7-11 record in 33 games with an ERA of 3.99. After his collegiate and professional days came to and end, the ultra-competitive pitcher from St. Catharines Ontario, wasn’t quite ready to hang up his spikes.
For those who never saw Essery pitch for the Niagara Metros of the Central Ontario "AAA" Major Baseball League, you really missed out on something special.
From 1997-2009 Essery compiled a laundry list of records and accomplishments that some athletes can only dream of;
- 61-23 record, 2.50 ERA
- 146 Games and 627 Innings Pitched
- 13 All-time Metros team records
- Season record, ERA; 0.53
- Season record, WHIP; 0.75
- All-time consecutive scoreless innings streak (33)
- COMBL MVP
- COMBL Top Pitcher (2)
- Team MVP (2)
- Top Metros pitcher (6)
If that wasn’t enough, he had the opportunity to take his talents international.
In 2007 Essery joined the Great Britain National team and pitched in the “2007 European Championships, 2009 World Cup and, most recently, the 2010 European Championships”.
As player/coach for the London Mets, the team compiled a 21-1 record, won the British National Championship and was named British Baseball's Most Valuable Pitcher by the GBBSA (2008).
Essery is now pitching coach and Recruitment Director for Great Britain Baseball and graciously spent some of his time speaking with The GM’s Perspective about the his role with the team and where the club is headed in the future.
Devon Teeple: Brian, can you explain how you got your start with the National Team?
Brian Essery: A teammate of mine, Tim Collins, joined the Niagara Metros for the 2007 season and was an infielder for the Great Britain National Baseball Team. Having a parent born in the UK I knew I would be eligible for the team. After speaking with Tim and then head coach Stephan Rapaglia I was invited to New York for a tryout in June. The tryout went great and I participated in the 2007 European Championships for the first time in Barcelona, Spain in 2007. That tournament is the highlight of my baseball career.
DT: How does the competition compare to what you have experienced in college, professionally and in the senior men’s league?
BE: The competition at major International tournaments is fantastic. The European Championships have two of the world powers in The Netherlands and Italy. Germany, Spain and the Czech Republic are always tough opponents as well. It is not uncommon to face current and ex-major leaguers at this event. The 2009 World Cup was a thrill, we competed against the world’s best in Cuba, Japan, South Korea, Venezuela and Puerto Rico.
DT: The whole experience must be surreal, and your journey to this point in time is something that has taken 17 years. You must certainly be proud of what you have accomplished and the strides the team has taken. With that comes your hands-on approach to building the team. What are your responsibilities as Recruiting Director?
BE: It does almost feel surreal. I have had the opportunity to travel the world playing and now coaching baseball. I am very fortunate to be a part of Great Britain Baseball. Assistant coach Darryl Reid and I have taken on the recruiting roles. We have both sent and answered upwards of 1000 emails and phone calls over the past several months. Our goal is to get in contact with every eligible Great Britain Baseball player. I have been speaking with eligible players from all over the world trying to recruit the best possible talent.
DT: From what pool of players are you looking to recruit from; professional, semi-pro, college, camps…?
BE: The playing background of the player is not the concern, we are seeking to put together a team with not only great talent but good character players as well. International Tournaments are short, you want to have solid teammates who can gel in such a short time together.
DT: With your dual role as pitching coach/recruiter. Do you have difficulties separating the two when it comes to putting the team together and making your recommendations?
BE: I haven’t run into that problem at all to this point. I have so many quality people to speak with regarding the potential players. General Manager, Jason Greenberg, has been a tremendous help for me in answering all the eligibility questions. Our head coach, Sam Dempster, has so many years of experience coaching and evaluating talent. I can talk with him about anything baseball. The transition has been smooth so far.
DT: Since we are discussing recruiting and Team GB attempting to qualify for some very high profile tournaments, can you give us some insight on the actual process of qualifying for the European Championships and the World Baseball Classic?
BE: We had to travel to Israel in the summer of 2011 to play in a European Championship Qualifier. We were successful in winning that tournament allowing us to participate in the European ‘A’ Pool Championship scheduled for September 2012 in Holland. We were invited by Major League Baseball to participate in the World Baseball Classic Qualifier in the fall of 2012. We will be in a pool with four other teams. The group winner will be entered into the World Baseball Classic in 2013. It hasn’t yet been announced where we will be playing or who our competition is.
DT: In your opinion, how does/will the team stack up against this year’s International competition?
BE: I believe we will have a very competitive team for both the European Championships and World Baseball Classic Qualifier. We will have a number of first time GB players to go along with the experienced players returning.
DT: How can interested players learn more about the recruitment process and how can they get in touch with the team or yourself.
BE: We will be hosting upcoming tryout camps in London, England and the Toronto area to go along with the tryout camp we already had in San Diego. There are still many players who do not know that they are eligible to represent Great Britain in these International Tournaments. Any questions I can be reached at email@example.com. The website for GB baseball is www.britishbaseball.org.
Thank you for the opportunity to spread the word about Great Britain Baseball.
DT: Brian, I’d like to thank you for your time. It has been a real pleasure speaking with you and I wish you and the squad all kinds of success in the coming year.
Devon is the founder of The GM’s Perspective