CARY, North Carolina – Chris Begg may not be your typical household name in the game of baseball.The Uxbridge, Ontario native was never able to step on a Major League baseball field as a member of a big league ball club where celebrity meets the sports world.
But the 29-year-old right handed pitcher has done everything but pitch in the Major Leagues in the world of baseball.He has pitched at every level in professional baseball, collecting a 63-35 record in 151 career games (125 starts) with a 3.42 ERA.He is also a two-time Olympian, participating in the 2004 and 2008 Olympic Games and was part of the 2006 and 2009 World Baseball Classic teams.
Now, Begg finds himself on the other side as a coach with the Junior National Team and he sees it as his chance to give back to the next generation of Canadian players.
“I know how important this program is to Canadian baseball and I’ve never been a part of the junior team as a player, so this is my first run at it to see what these kids at this age go through,” says Begg.
For Begg, this is a chance to see if this is the next step in his baseball career.After not being signed by a team this past off-season, he found himself contemplating retirement from the game for the first time.Something he admits, he is not completely ready to accept.
“You miss the competitive nature and you miss the routine.Being a pitcher and a starting pitcher you develop a routine and going to the field and getting your work in was routine.So to not have that routine anymore and for that to be broken you feel out of place.”
“You’re looking for a place to get your feet grounded again,” he continues.“It takes a while to discover something that gets your blood boiling the same way that competing every day does.”
Although he no longer has the same regularity he once did as a player and feels he can still contribute on the field, he may have found his new niche with his most recent role as pitching coach here with the JNT.
“This has been fun.These kids are really receptive and they really want to learn and if I can help out in some way... The thing I told them was I don’t want to change anything they’ve already been doing with previous coaches, I just want to build on it.”
“I just want to give them the foundation to succeed and they’ve been really receptive and they want to do it and they pick up things pretty quickly.”
The tools Begg uses in coaching these young pitchers is simply drawing from his own experiences within the game of baseball and Begg has seen a lot over his professional career.
Begg has been from college baseball to the independent leagues to the professional ranks and has represented his country on the international stage.And although he has never been officially a Major Leaguer, he has faced some stiff Major League competition in his two World Baseball Classic appearances.
“With my experiences, I’ve told the players if they have any questions regarding college or professional baseball that odds are I’ve been there and done that and that I can help them out.And if I can’t help them out then I will find out where I can help them out.So I’m going to get them an answer one way or the other.”
But getting to this point for Begg was not easy.He has continues to throw and keep in shape in case anyone does pick up the phone to offer him a place to play.But as the season wears on, he is realizing that his career may be closer to the end then the beginning.
Then again, should he decide to hang up his spikes, he admits he may have found his new baseball outlet even if it is not always with Baseball Canada.
“When you’re at home and spinning your wheels hoping someone will eventually call, you eventually get to the point where you’re wondering why you’re doing it.And it got to the point where I had to start looking at different avenues.”
“But this side of it has been fun and I’m having a good time with it so we’ll see where it takes me.”
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