Dreams to be first Swede in Major League Baseball
Twenty-year-old Oscar Holmberg dreams of being the first Swede in modern times to play Major League Baseball.
"I have a dream to be a pro baseball player," he told Radio Sweden, adding with a laugh, "but we'll see."
While it's not uncommon to see Swedes going over to the U.S. to play in the North American hockey league, the NHL, baseball is another matter. It does not enjoy nearly as much popularity in Sweden as sports like ice hockey, but last year, the Swedish catcher moved to the U.S. with the hope of one day playing pro ball there. He says that would make him the first person born and raised in Sweden, in modern times, to do so.
Holmberg started playing baseball when he was six-years-old, played in a kids' league in Enskede, and went to a baseball academy in Leksand for high school. As a senior, he and his classmates went on a recruiting trip to California, which included a visit to American River community college in Sacramento, California.
He was impressed by the coach and the facilities, and after filling out a lot of paperwork, he moved in August to start playing ball at the college. He hopes the experience will lead to a scholarship to play baseball at a four-year university, and eventually to being drafted into pro ball there. (Sweden has no professional baseball leagues.)
He told Radio Sweden that he's always wanted to play baseball in the U.S. Now that he's there, he says, one major difference he's noticed is that players are expected to hussle more there.
"The game is much faster over here. The pitchers throw harder. The hitters hit harder," Holmberg told Radio Sweden.
"It was difficult at first to pick up the speed from pitchers when they throw the ball, but you adapt."