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February 21, 2013 - Image 28

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2013-02-21

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

>> ... Next Generation ...

A Boy Of Summer

Justin Prinstein has traveled the
world to play baseball.

Prinstein

HARRY KIRSBAUM I CONTRIBUTING WRITER

pitching for

the Almere

Magpies

against

HCAW in

Bussum

Netherlands

CONTINUED FROM
PAGE 1

Justin went 2 for 3 in the first game
as designated hitter with a home run and
two runs scored in a 7-6 win, then pitched
7 innings in the second game, struck out 17
batters and went 3 for 4 batting with two
doubles and three runs scored in a 17-0
rout. Happy Graduation Day, indeed.
He is in town until March when he
packs his bags again to become the player-
manager of the Hrosi Brno Hippos, a pro
team out of the Czech Republic. He also
will either become part-time head coach
of the Hungarian National team or join the
Polish National team as a pitching coach.
He recently signed on as European scouting
coordinator for the Baltimore Orioles as
well. "Most likely no days off from March
through September," he said.
Justin managed to sit still long enough to
talk about his extremely busy life.

Early Years

A 2002 North Farmington Hills graduate,
Prinstein went to Albion College, where
he "blossomed" as a player, he said. The
coaches liked his pitching, but they didn't
understand his Judaism.
"I was pretty religious growing up," he
said. "We would have a holiday, and the
coach did not understand what that was."
Making the first of many moves, Justin
tried out and won an academic and
athletic scholarship as a walk-on at George
Washington University in Washington, D.C.
Playing well against the top-10 teams
in the country and watched by plenty of
scouts, he got an agent and offers to play
in Europe.
In 2006, after turning down a chance
to play in Israel for a new league, he went

28

February 21 • 2013

to play for the well-established
Prinstein on a mound visit while
Hoboken Pioneers in Belgium in
coaching the Hungary Under-16
March 2007 in time for spring
National Team in July 2012.y-
training. But his Jewishness got
him fired — after pitching his first
two stellar games, a no-hitter and
a one-hitter — when he took a day
off on Passover to find a seder.
"I wandered around Antwerp
and found some Lubavitchers who
didn't speak English, but they
took me in," he said. "When I
returned the next day, a coach,
who was kind of a skinhead,
asked me where I was. One
week later, I got a pink slip.
They said I didn't fit in well
with the team."
Justin grabbed his bags for Israel
and within a month
was pitching for the
Justin Prinstein at a
Netanyuahu Tigers.
baseball clinic for kids
It was his first trip
in Detroit in February
to Israel.
A bomb scare
greeted him on the
first day at a bus
station close to his
living quarters, and
a robot checked an
abandoned bag.
"Everybody was
freaking out," he
said. With a high
level of security at
the games, the No. 1
interest was to keep
the players safe.
There wasn't a lot
of time to explore Israel or keep up with the
After winter ball, he jumped back and
news either.
forth from Australia to the Netherlands,
They played six days a week in the
then back and forth from Germany and
middle of the summer in Israel. Batting
Hungary. (See box)
practice at 3 p.m., game at 6 p.m., finish at
In 2008, he returned to Detroit with a
10 p.m., he said. "We'd eat something and
rotator cuff injury suffered while playing
go home and sleep until noon because it
in the Netherlands. With a good academic
was too hot to do anything else.
background — he won academic and
"I look back on it now and I probably
athletic scholarships wherever he studied
should have done more cultural things, but
— Justin took the LSAT and applied to a
I just wanted to rest. It was such a grueling
few law schools.
experience."
"I hate sitting around," he said.
Both of his roommates were from
He got a scholarship from the University
Australia; and at the end of the season, he
of Detroit Mercy and arranged to attend
was playing winter ball 2007-08, pitching
classes during the off-season once his
for the Southern District Hawks of South
shoulder healed.
Australia.
"I came three weeks late to school and

Y

Prinstein

warms up for

the Almere

Magpies.

just grinded it out," he said. "I trained
d uring the off season every day, did my
• rehab for my shoulder, then studied."
Once his shoulder healed, he left for
Europe, but still managed to study for
• exams. Every professor agreed to all the
different circumstances.
*
"I would leave school four to five
weeks early in March, and take my exams
proctored over Skype in between games
and practices, usually at midnight," he said.
"It was the hardest thing I have ever done."

2

Coaching

While playing in the Netherlands, he got a
reputation as a pitching coach at the ripe
old age of 24.
"I was playing only about three games
a week, and you find you have a lot of
time," he said. "My father was always a
great coach to me, and I learned how to
think through the game very well. I started
making use of my time during the week
going to these baseball academies in the
Netherlands."
At the same time he was coaching

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