GA State Coach Greg Frady Brings German Baseball Talent to Atlanta
Enlarge image Coach Greg Frady (left) (© GNBT) Georgia State head baseball coach Greg Frady is the source of yet another exciting German-American baseball venture. In recent years, he has received many accolades for bringing his extraordinary coaching expertise to Germany and turning the German National Baseball Team (GNBT) into a big success story.
This time around, he has “changed directions” and has brought German playing and coaching talent to Atlanta. Upon the coach’s invitation, German player Max Schmitz (Bonn Capitals) has joined the GA State Panthers this season with a full scholarship to study chemistry at Georgia State University (GSU). Frady also brought his GNBT assistant coach Dirk Fries (München-Haar Disciples) to Atlanta for one week to give him an opportunity to get additional insights into American coaching techniques.
German player Max Schmitz caught the baseball bug at the age of four when his father was transferred to the west coast and he joined a Seattle Mariners’ tee ball team. Back in Germany, he was overjoyed to find a baseball club close by and has played for the Bonn Capitals ever since. Enlarge image German pitcher Max Schmitz (© Germany.info) His lucky break came last summer when coach Frady invited him to participate in an international tournament in the Netherlands, followed by a spot on the national team during the world cup in Panama last fall. Now 19 years old, he says that there is no place in the world he would rather be right now than here in Atlanta playing baseball at GSU.
“I want to become a much better baseball player, a better person and - most importantly - also grow academically,” Schmitz says. “GSU was my perfect pick because I can work on all three goals simultaneously.”
At 6 ft. 7 in. Max Schmitz stands taller than most baseball players, a distinct advantage that coaches and professional scouts are looking for. He also has the ability to throw four different types of pitches which makes it hard for the opposing team to zero in on one type of pitch.
“Max will have a wonderful baseball future,” coach Frady explains his choice. “It will be a great development for him as a baseball player representing Germany to be here in the United States. We also thought that his talent stood alone and he could get great results and help our GA State team out.”
Enlarge image Max Schmitz (left) and Dirk Fries at the GA State Panthers training complex in Decatur, GA (© Germany.info) Coach Dirk Fries’ initiation into the world of baseball also had an American connection - a friend brought back a baseball glove from a trip to the U.S. and they started tossing the ball around in the backyard. Soon he signed up for a club and eventually played many years in the GNBT. When he had to resign due to an injury, Fries decided to give back to his community and become the coach for his local Bundesliga team, the Haar Disciples. He continues working with Frady as an assistant coach at the GNBT as well. Always eager to learn, he jumped at the opportunity to see college baseball first hand here in Atlanta.
“Dirk is a bright young coach in Germany and he had a chance to see how we run the GA State baseball team every day,” Frady says. “I was happy to show him how we condition our athletes with weight training, do different drills, manage our pitching and how the sports medicine helps with rehab. When coaches are together, they naturally pick up from each other.”
We had the chance to talk to Max Schmitz and Dirk Fries about their experiences and expectations at a recent Panthers’ training session.
Has baseball become more popular in Germany?
Max Schmitz: Definitely. Membership has grown and the quality of the game has improved tremendously. Coach Frady has a huge stake in it; his continuous efforts since 2004 have shaped the GNBT into a strong competitor. He instilled in us the belief that Germany can be great in baseball and we are putting this dream into action every day.
Dirk Fries: There are many new programs in schools and at universities. PE teachers can take baseball instruction and incorporate baseball into their lessons. No doubt, soccer will always be the dominant sport in Germany but great performances from the GNBT will ensure the continued rise of baseball and secure a place in the top German sports.
How does baseball training in Germany stack up against your experiences here?
Max Schmitz: This is much more professional than in Germany. The team, the coaching staff and the conditions here are perfect. Everyone knows what he has to do on the field and the baseball knowledge has a much broader foundation. Training every day instead of just two or three days a week makes a big difference.
Dirk Fries: Baseball is so much more present over here; players start much earlier and gain more experience faster. The game is always on TV and the younger players can learn from watching the pros. That said, coaching in Germany has improved significantly in recent years and we will definitely keep this trend going.
What is coach Frady’s secret for success?
Max Schmitz: Coach Frady makes baseball really simple. We play a fast and aggressive but basic and very solid baseball. He has a major impact because he can communicate the essence and the intricate details of the sport like no other coach I have ever had.
Dirk Fries: He is a great motivator and makes us mentally strong. His positive thinking and his ability to set a goal and show a clear path to completion are unique. He is a master in preparing the team and supporting the players during the game to get their optimum performance. My goal is to take as much of that expertise home as possible.
Do you have some advice for young German baseball fans?
Max Schmitz: Stick with it and don’t give up. The draw of baseball is the complexity of its rules. It takes some time and effort to understand and enjoy it. The “mental fight” between the pitcher and the batter couldn’t be more thrilling. If fans give baseball a chance, people will find that it is the most exciting sport in the world.
Looking ahead to the European Baseball Championship this September, do you have a prediction for the German team?
Max Schmitz: We placed third in 2008 and I hope to at least match that great result. It would be wonderful if we could deliver a strong performance against the two top European teams – the Netherlands and Italy – and maybe even beat them.