Which country produces the best baseball players?

Leading Off: Another country joins big-league fraternity

Published: Wednesday, May. 1, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 1C
Last Modified: Friday, May. 3, 2013 - 5:08 pm

The promotion by the Cincinnati Reds of Donald Lutz, who grew up in his mom's native Germany, gives that country its first-ever modern major-leaguer.

The 6-foot-3, 250-pound slugger, a product of Major League Baseball's European Academy, was called up from Double-A Pensacola, Fla., to replace Chris Heisey on a Reds team battered by injuries. Lutz's stay in Cincinnati could last as long as it takes for Heisey to heal – and perhaps much longer if his minor-league power translates into big-league production.

Germany has taken notice, and Lutz displayed his national pride, posting on his Twitter account: "I'm going to the show!! First German in the league!!"

We caught a glimpse of Germany's budding devotion to baseball in the mid-1990s when our nephews visited Sacramento from Wiesloch, a small town near Heidelberg. Gloves, bats and balls were part of their luggage, and batting and fielding sessions at a nearby park and trips to Candlestick Park, the Oakland Coliseum and a youth tournament in Yountville were on their itinerary.

Their love of the game has endured. Now in their 30s, the nephews are hard-core Giants fans, subscribe to MLB television and have framed photos of the 2010 World Series on the walls of their homes on Wiesloch's town square. They still play in adult leagues.

A posting on the Facebook page of one of my nephews states: "Big Lutz, Big Daddy, alles das gleiche! (hahaha)." Translation: "Big Lutz, Big Daddy, all the same! (hahaha)."

Maybe not, but it's good to see love of a great game rewarded – for Lutz and for his country.

Today's poll

Which country produces the best baseball players?

• Dominican Republic

• Germany

• Japan

• United States

• Venezuela

• Other

Vote above or leave your comments in the comment field

Tuesday's results

Who deserves the most credit for the Kings likely staying in Sacramento?

• Kevin Johnson: 73%

• Vivek Ranadive: 3%

• David Stern: 17%

• Investment group: 5%

• Other: 2%

Total votes: 389

Call The Bee's Brian Blomster, (916) 326-5512. Follow him on Twitter @b_blomster.

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