Fifty-thousand people watching from the stands, eating hot dogs and drinking beers.
The freshly painted white lines pop in contrast to the smooth brown dirt.
The smell of newly cut grass permeates the entire field. Teammates and opponents alike speckle the enormous field in their colorful, pristine jerseys.
This is what it’s like to play baseball in the MLB or other professional leagues throughout the world.
At KO, we know Ryan Radmanovich as the assistant coach of the varsity baseball team, but not everyone knows that he played baseball professionally for 17 years.
He was drafted in the twelfth round out of his college Pepperdine, by the Minnesota Twins in 1993, and was claimed off of waivers by the Seattle Mariners in 1998.
He was then traded to the San Diego Padres in 2002 and played for many other minor league teams, and in Mexico and the Atlantic League, another professional baseball league in the United States.
In his first ever major league game with the Seattle Mariners, Ryan was able to achieve his dreams. “The first guy I played catch with in the major leagues was Ken Griffey Jr,” he said.
Coach Radmanovich played right field and Ken played center field. He had been looking up to Ken Griffey Jr. for the last four years, watching him play at a distance.
“Yeah it was exciting. You feel like you belong once you get there,” he said, referring to the MLB.
But Coach Radmanovich didn’t just play professionally in the MLB. He played in the 2004 Olympics in Athens, Greece, and in the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, China, for his country, Canada.
When asked about what it was like to play in the Olympics, Coach Radmanovich visibly brightened, remembering one of the great experiences of his life.
“It was awesome, just a completely different experience than playing in the major leagues,” he said.
When asked which part of the Olympics was his favorite, he struggled to choose between one. He enjoyed living with other athletes in the Olympic village from other countries, playing against the best players in the world, and wearing his country’s name (Canada) across his chest.
However, he described his favorite experience later. “The highlight is walking into the stadium with your country,” he said. By this, of course, he was referring to the Opening Ceremony.
When asked how he had gotten into coaching, Coach Radmanovich was funny, first jokingly stating that he didn’t want to. However, he was very obviously kidding and then elaborated on the question.
In his late years in the professional leagues, and after his retirement from baseball in 2009, Coach Radmanovich had been starting to get into the teaching aspect of baseball rather than the playing. “The last few years of my playing career, I began doing just some private training in the offseason, when I was home,” he said.
Although this wasn’t exactly coaching it began his work with kids and younger athletes, acting as a stepping stone.
Coach Radmanovich started coaching at KO because of his neighbors. “I met the Levine’s who live across the street and they were here at KO, and they told me to come on over and I met Steve, and the rest is history,” he said.
The Levines mentioned are Ted Levine, history teacher, and Lynn Levine, English teacher, both of whom work at KO.
Steve Cannata, head varsity baseball coach, talked a little about what it’s like to work with Coach Radmanovich.
“It’s good to work with him because it reaffirms that what we are doing is the same stuff they are doing on the professional level,” he said.
Steve also mentioned that their coaching styles complement each other. “I’m a pitching guy and he’s a hitting guy so it all works out.
We both work on defense together,” he said. Coach Radmanovich and Coach Cannata are now on their seventh season coaching baseball together. The pair will continue their coaching careers on the varsity baseball team. Congratulations to Coach Ryan Radmanovich.