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Michael Crouse Represents Team Canada at 2019 Pan-Am Games

From the moment Michael Crouse picked up a baseball, he wanted to represent his native country.

He was born into a household in Port Moody, British Columbia that lived and breathed sports. His father, Ray Crouse, played running back for the Green Bay Packers in 1984.

While most children don’t know what they want to do with their lives at ten-years-old, Crouse found an immediate love with baseball and said at that age he decided “ to pursue it full time.”

The 28-year-old outfielder returned to Bridgewater, N.J. to play for his current team, the Somerset Patriots of the independent Atlantic League, after he helped the Canadian national team take home a silver medal at the 2019 Pan-American games in Lima, Peru.

Team Canada dropped the gold medal game to Puerto Rico in a 6-1 final on Aug. 4.

https://twitter.com/baseballcanada/status/1158232465598816257

He appeared in four games for the Canadians and went 3-for-17 with four runs and an RBI. Crouse’s best outing came in the Men’s Super Round in an 8-5 loss to Puerto Rico. He went 2-for-4 and hit a home run in the third frame off pitcher Miguel Martinez.

“Anytime you can strap an entire country across your chest, it’s very rewarding,” Crouse told DoubleGSports.com. “It represents, not only yourself, but an entire country. It was amazing. You hear about the Olympics and every athlete getting together in one common place and it was exactly that, just in a smaller version. Those two-and-a-half weeks I spent with Team Canada, as well as the teammates, will last a lifetime”

 He also won gold at the Pan-Am games in 2011 and played with them at the 2017 World Baseball Classic.

A torn pectoral muscle, which required surgery, forced Crouse to sit out the 2015 Pan-Am games in Toronto, where Canada defeated the United States 7-6 to defend its title.

While he and his teammates weren’t scoring on the field located in Villa María del Triunfo, he got the opportunity to explore the village where they were staying and try out some new restaurants.

“We checked out a few restaurants, there are some nice areas in Peru about 20 minutes away [from the village], so we’d go over there have something to eat,” Crouse said. “Their ceviche [a seafood dish made from fresh raw fish] is some of the best in the world. In Peru, in terms of food, you really can’t go wrong.”

Another off the field highlight for Crouse was getting to support his fellow Canadians. He said that they got to go watch field hockey, as well as a swimming and diving competition. Track and field was also on his agenda of things to check out, however, the runners had arrived as the baseball team was leaving.

Somerset manager Brett Jodie said that getting the international experience is a huge benefit. He offered nothing but praise for his outfielder.

“He’s always been such a threat. With his speed, defense, the chance to leave the yard as a hitter, he’s really a five-tool player potentially,” Jodie told DoubleGSports.com. “With his defense, he throws a lot of runners out from second base trying to score because he comes so aggressively to get the ball. Really all facets of the game he is good in, he just needs to be consistent. If he gets consistent, he’s a major league baseball player.”

Crouse said the Canadian Junior National Team can start to look at potential players as early as age 16. It was at that age in 2007 where he got his first opportunity to live out the childhood dream of representing his country.

“Anywhere from [the age of] 15 to 16 you can start making that team,” Crouse said. “As soon as I made that team when I was 16, you go down to [the Domincan Summer League] and going down to Florida, playing professional teams, and you realize those dreams are much closer than you think.

“It was a big feat [making that team]. You work hard everyday, you see guys coming back from those Team Canada trips with all the gear and experiences and that’s one of the teams you want to play for one day.”

Giving back to the community is something Crouse is highly passionate about. He wants to give younger kids the opportunity to develop their game so they can aspire to make the Canadian Junior National Team like he did.

Crouse, along with Team Canada teammate, Tyson Gilles are in the process of starting a baseball development company which they call “Travail” in Vancouver. He found that a good way to market their new venture was to document their entire  experience at the Pan-Am games on an Instagram account called “Travail Development.

“We’re going to train kids who look to go where we have gone before,” Crouse said. “[Starting the Instagram] was a good way to start our marketing and showcase that if you work hard and play hard you can end up playing for Team Canada and competing for medals.”

While Team Canada did not take home the gold, stepping up to the podium with his teammates was a dream come true.

“We played against some amazing countries and had some great competition,” Crouse said. “A silver medal is not bad by any means.”

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Dylan is a sophomore journalism major at Rider University in Lawrenceville, New Jersey and covers the Somerset Patriots and Atlantic League of Professional Baseball. He is also the Sports Editor of Rider's student newspaper, The Rider News.
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