EL PASO, TEXAS (KTSM) – Baseball is returning to the Olympic Games this summer for the first time in 12 years.
Back in 2008, the last time baseball was an Olympic sport, Team USA won the bronze medal.
Jason Donald, from Fresno, led the team in batting average and slugging percentage in Beijing in 2008. He is excited the sport is returning to the games and is happy to talk about that, plus his memories from 12 years ago.
Donald was a minor league baseball player for the Double-A-Reading Phillies, and little did he know, he was on the watch list for USA Baseball.
Donald found out shortly after the Futures Game that he was going to Beijing, China.
“When we got on the plane and then when we landed, I think that’s when it started to hit that this is a completely different atmosphere. I remember the Hungarian women’s water polo team, and they were way bigger and in way better shape than any guy on our team,” said Donald.
The team won bronze and Donald led the way with a .381 batting average and a slugging percentage of .571.
“Looking at that medal, it’s, you know it’s just something unique that’s part of my story. It’s part of my career,” said Donald.
Now after a 12-year absence, being an Olympian baseball player will be part of someone else’s story, and someone else’s career.
“That is something that I definitely will be watching just because one, hopefully, they show some highlights of us winning a bronze medal. But it’ll be cool, and it’ll be fun to have my kids watch it with me too because as they’re watching it will kinda make it more real for them, what Dad did,” said Donald.
Six countries will compete in baseball at the 2020 Olympics. Four of them have already qualified.
Those four being Israel, Japan, Mexico, and South Korea. Now, the next Olympic berth will be decided at a qualifying tournament in Arizona later this month.