Ken Wise has never had a need for a passport, that is, until he received an important call from Great South Baseball League Commissioner Bill Park last Thursday saying he’d been selected to represent Team USA in the World Port Classic in Rotterdam, Holland.
Wise, who is playing this summer with the Gainesville Travelers, was selected as one of 24 players from the Great South Baseball League to take part in this two-week tournament from July 2-12 against national teams from Cuba, Chinese Taipei, Japan and The Netherlands.
Hoping to get drafted professionally in 2010, it’s an opportunity that Wise couldn’t pass up on.
"I was shocked and surprised when I got the call that I was selected," Wise, an East Hall High graduate, said. "This is the opportunity of a lifetime."
With only six days between receiving the call for his first international travel, Wise first had to secure the proper documentation to travel overseas. He expects to receive his passport back Tuesday, just in time to leave on Wednesday morning.
Also making the trip from the Gainesville Travelers is Buck Harris, who graduated from Oconee County High.
Wise, who plans to play at Hillsborough Community College (Fla.) next year, was selected for Team USA after initial selection Josh Wright was unable to make the trip, due to a conflict with college courses he’s currently taking.
According to Park, Wise, a pitcher, was the natural selection to fill the opening.
Wise is a hard-throwing right hander, who has been clocked in the low 90’s on the radar gun. "Ken is the kind of kid who hasn’t had a lot of opportunity with baseball," Park said. "He has all the tools as a pitcher, but just hasn’t played against an elite level of competition before.
"I expect to see Ken pitch better than he ever has before."
The World Port tournament is held bi-annually. In 2007, the tournament drew a crowd of 65,000 fans to see games at the Neptunus Family Stadium in Rotterdam. In all, 21 games will be played between the five national teams during the 11-day tournament.