Around the World

David Flattery found out this summer that baseball truly is an international sport.

Flattery, who is an assistant coach for Iowa Central, spent the past four months playing for the Paris University Club of the French Professional Baseball League.

While baseball has always been a key part of Flattery becoming the person he is today, all of that was taken to a new level and understanding.

“The experiences and memories that I made this summer will last a lifetime. The team was made up of players from seven different nationalities (French, Polish, Venezuelan, Dominican, Korean, Japanese and American) who spoke many languages,” Flattery said. “We came from different backgrounds and cultures, but love of the game of baseball was enough commonality to tie us all together.

“My best friend was a Japanese guy who spoke almost zero English, I was teammates with a former major leaguer, and I got paid to play baseball and travel Europe.

“Considering myself lucky would be a huge understatement.”

Flattery was a standout multi-sport athlete at St. Edmond before competing for the Tritons on the diamond. From there, he headed to Nebraska to play for Div. I University of Omaha, eventually concluding his college career in South Dakota at Augstana University with a national championship.

During his time overseas, Flattery was given a history lesson on the sport and how it came about in France that truly put the game into perspective.

“According to one of my French teammates, American troops introduced them to the game during World War 1. American soldiers would play games and, after some time, the French began to join in,” he said. “The story has it that the French soldiers were astonished with how well the Americans handled failure. They quickly came to understand that baseball was much more than just a game. The message was clear and the themes paralleled between baseball and every day life were countless.

“Baseball is a game of failure; failing more than succeeding could be paralleled with not letting our own human failures bring us down and define who we are: the sacrifice bunt paralleled with sacrificing our own pride and well-being for the benefit of others; an umpire making a bad call paralleled with understanding that life isn’t always fair and that we need to be able to keep pushing forward anyway.

“The French knew right away how potentially powerful the game could be to the country. They adopted it and the sport has been slowly growing in popularity ever since.”

The league consisted of 40 games, with two nine-inning games being played per weekend. The team took on opponents all over France including in La Rochelle, Clermont, Toulouse, Nice, Valenciennes and Montigny.

Flattery went 4-2 on the mound with five starts and seven overall appearances. He logged 43 innings, striking out 33 with a 3.56 earned run average and a .254 batting average against.

While baseball was his main focus, Flattery was able to take in plenty life-changing moments around the European countries.

“I was able to make trips to Romania, Switzerland, Austria, England and Normandy,” h e said. “Normandy was one of my favorite trips of the summer. The American cemetery was emotional and surreal. The shore of Omaha beach was more of the same. Standing in the presence of the horror of the storming that occurred on that day was overwhelming, but seeing it first-hand and understanding what those men did and what they stood for brought a sense of pride and patriotism I had never felt before.”