John Baum, born in in Buffalo NY (USA), grew up in Milford, Ohio. He played one season at Sinclair CC. He also played two years at Indiana Tech. Junior year 1st team all-American that lost in the national Championship game of the NAIA World Series; Senior year 2nd team All-American. 5th place World Series finish. John Baum coached and played two seasons in Dornbirn, Austria where he won the national championship in his first year there. In 2005 he came to the Bern Cardinals, where he won 7 titles in 8 years, as well as 3 Euro Cup qualifiers. He took the Cardinals to the A-pool tourney in 2013. Umpiring in between, along with coaching the Cardinals in 2015, and Sissach Frogs in 2016. Both teams made the playoffs. Since 2019 John Baum is coaching the Therwil Flyers, a team competing with the Cardinals, and led the NLA baseball team to its 12 championship title in his first season.
In the interview with Xecutives.net John Baum gives deep insights into the „Randsport“ (fringe sport) baseball. Baum explains what is needed to become a good baseballer, a good coach and what distinguishes good players from very good players who play for Major League teams in USA.
Xecutives.net: John, What are your first memories regarding sport and baseball, thinking back at the time, when you were a child in USA?
John Baum: The first memory I have in organized baseball was going to my first tee-ball practice. I got there and started practicing, but with the wrong team. There were several in a big park practicing in different areas. I remember the coaches of the team I was practicing with being disappointed that I wasn’t going to be on their team.
Xecutives.net: How did you come to baseball yourself? Who inspired you?
John Baum: I can’t actually say, I was inspired, but it came easy to me. I played it well and had a lot of fun doing it. My parents were big into us playing sports, although not athletic themselves.
Xecutives.net: What prompted you to devote yourself entirely to baseball and not to consider another sport?
John Baum: I played as much soccer as baseball until I was 12 or 13, and probably at the same level. My family moved to rural North Carolina at this time, and there was no organized soccer around. So at that point I lost my desire to play. I also played a lot of golf, starting about age 18.
Xecutives.net: Baseball is a very prominent and important sport in USA. Families often go together to games, where they drink soft drinks or beer, where they talk and eat, a social event. Humphry Bogart once said: “A hot dog at the ballgame beats a steak at the Ritz.” What distinguishes baseball from soccer or american football, also regarding the audience?
John Baum: Baseball is a cerebral game. It’s not just about formation, and things like that. It’s very detailed oriented, and small mistakes that are maybe missed by non-baseball people can turn the tide of the entire game. There are casual fans who come watch, and then there are the hardcore fans, the ones who keep score, and basically analyze the game. It’s hard to truly describe the atmosphere at a baseball game as opposed to other sports…but those who love baseball know that feeling.
Xecutives.net: Is there anything within baseball that is helping you in your normal life and in your job?
John Baum: Baseball helps balance my life. It’s an outlet from family life, something that makes me a better family man. I may not play anymore, but I still love to compete. The fact that it makes me as happy as it does, that’s a big positive for my family.
Xecutives.net: Sebastian Zwyer has shown in his interview about baseball and the Therwil Flyers why baseball is also a great sport for children. Every child, whether fast, slow, technically adept or with a lot of stamina, finds its place in this sport? Do you share this opinion?
John Baum: If I know anyone who can be a good player, and be slow, it’s Seppi (laughs loudly). But he’s right, you don’t have to be a great athlete, it helps, but it is not a prerequisite.
Xecutives.net: Baseball is a fringe sport, a “Randsport”, in Switzerland and Europe in general. Mike Sundman, ex manager and also coach for the Therwil Flyers, talked about it in his interview. What is the reason that Baseball, an important sport in other regions, is still a Randsport in Europe?
John Baum: That is a tough question. The game itself is complicated, and takes time to understand. As a fan, it could be considered a bit boring. There isn’t a large pool of people in smaller countries to choose from. The lack of true fields and backing from government is a huge deterrent.
Xecutives.net: You yourself made a great career as a player, later also as a coach, also in Austria and Switzerland, where you won the championships several times with various teams. What is your approach and focus when coaching players? What is it that makes you so successful with your teams, wherever you’re coaching?
John Baum: To be successful as a coach you need good players. I have had a lot of them over my time. Secondly you must find a way to get them to believe in you. That often comes from finding personal or team successes. In Europe I’ve always tried to get guys to believe that what they are doing, playing baseball, is more important than they’ve ever thought.
Xecutives.net: Are there any differences, whether you coach very young players or older players who play in the national team?
John Baum: Not really. Same drills, maybe with a little more tenderness shown to the kids.
Xecutives.net: As in other sports, there are very few athletes who can make a living from sport. What, for instance, do famous NLA players in USA have that other players don’t have? What distinguishes these sport talents? Or to put it another way, what is that players who don’t get that far in this sport are missing?
John Baum: In Baseball hitting is very important. Many people consider this hardest thing to do in any sport. Baseball separates quickly those with excess talent from guys like me. Size and speed play a big role at higher levels and often give guys a better opportunity at professional baseball.
Xecutives.net: Dear John, thank you very much for giving your time for this interview. I wish you and the Therwil Flyers team much success and I’m looking forward to joining a next game!
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