By Jacek Adamski l special for CNBNewsnet
Paul Solarski, the head coach of the Polish National Baseball Team was introduced before the Detroit Tigers and Texas Rangers game at Comerica Park in Detroit recently. It was part of the 47th annual Polish-American Heritage Night pregame highlights. Ethnic celebrations are popular promotions as part of a trend to have theme events as a draw combined with Major League Baseball games.
In and out of the stadium, Polish culture, dancing and music highlighted the pre-game show. Over 400 dancers performed on the field before the game. In excess o 40,000 attended and the baseball cap premium package, which was an extra cost, sold out. The evening was punctuated with the PEPSI fireworks show after the game. It was nadzwyczajny spektakularny. (It was a spectacular finish.)
Solarski is a veteran coach and administrator at Brebeuf College School (college-preparatory school) in Toronto, Canada. He was joined at the event by coaches, Raymond Rolak, John Solarski and Paweł Rojek, who were educating about opportunities and events of Polski Związek Baseballu i Softballu (PZBall), the Confederation of European Baseball and Polska Fundacja Baseballu i Softballu.
Last year, the Polish National Team won the C-Championship of the CEB and was relegated up. This season they will host and participate in the B-Championships in Miejska Górka, Poland July, 24-30. Also participating will be Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, Lithuania, and Slovakia. The other regional will take place in Belgrade, Serbia consisting of Austria, Bulgaria, Greece, Israel, Switzerland and host Serbia. The two winners will compete in the A-Pool which will be held in Germany in 2018. That will be a qualifying event for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Headquartered in Zagreb, Croatia, the Confederation of European Baseball is the governing body of baseball in Europe. The CEB has 38 National Federations and governs all European clubs and competitions such as the Champions Cup and the European Baseball Championship.
During the C-Pool Championship in Miejska Górka last year, the Polish team won with a 7-1 win over Romania in the final. In the championship game, tournament MVP, Marek Deska led the way, scattering just six hits, a run and a walk in a nine-inning complete game. He struck out ten and picked up his second win of the week. Poland took a quick 4-0 lead and never looked back. Mariusz Grzanowski drove in two runs while Maciej Wroblewski crossed the plate two times. Kacper Kaminski went 3-for-5 with a double, a run and a RBI. Poland completed the tournament with a perfect 5-0 record.
Baseball and softball are currently played at 36 locations in Poland. Youth baseball and softball got a big boost when Little League baseball opened its first European youth baseball training center in Kutno, Poland. Stan Musial and Ed Piszek donated funds to build fields and they have since added dormitories. The Little League European and African Regional Championships are hosted at this location. Poland last qualified for the Little League World Series in Williamsport in 2003.
Polish baseball got another developmental enhancement this past season when the Polski Związek Baseballu i Softballu received the CEB’s, ‘FEDERATION OF THE YEAR’ award. It was at the convention this year in Belgrade, Serbia, that the Baseball and Softball World Congress honored the Polish federation. During the CEB portion of the Congress, Poland was recognized three separate times for its achievements in 2016. These were the result of winning the Seniors C-Pool Championship and the U-15 European Qualifier. Also, CEB President Jan Esselman recognized PZBall as its 2016 Federation of the Year. Accepting for PZBall was Christopher Sweeney. Several CEB Board Members cited improved cooperation with the CEB and Poland’s success in the international tournaments among the many contributing factors for the award. http://www.baseballsoftball.pl
Wally Ozog, retired President (Emeritus) of the Polish Roman Catholic Union of America which coordinated the festivities at Comerica Park said, “It is the 47th annual event. I heartily salute and honor all those that have contributed.” He was pointing toward Ted Klamerus, who is still an administrator for the PRCU. Klamerus, who is retired from the Ford Motor Company, was a charter member of the Polish-American Heritage event committee. In conjunction with the Detroit Tigers Baseball Club, they started the occasion 48 years ago.