GREENFIELD — Cameron Gruell wants to play baseball for as long as he can.
If he can get paid to play, well, that’s icing on top of the cake.
Gruell, 21, Greenfield, recently graduated from Marion University, where he played and excelled in baseball for the Knights as a utility player for four years.
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While there, he earned a bachelor of science degree in marketing with a concentration in sports and management information. His hope is to someday land a job in baseball management; that is, if he’s not playing somewhere professionally.
Gruell, a 2013 Greenfield-Central High School academic honors graduate, is headed to Germany, where he has signed on to play for the International Baseball Community as a catcher with the Memmelsdorf Barons.
“As long as I can keep on playing, I’m going to do it,” Gruell said. “I get to be a kid for a little bit longer and keep on playing, so that’s exciting.”
While it’s not the major or even the minor leagues, Gruell is excited to be getting paid to play the game he’s loved since he was 2.
Through a friend, he found out baseballjobsoverseas.com, a website where players who haven’t been drafted by Major League Baseball teams can upload stats, a profile and videos showcasing their game.
After creating a free profile earlier last summer, Gruell was asked to be part of the Memmelsdorf Barons baseball team after he graduated from college. He readily accepted.
He’ll play his home games in the city of Bamberg but will travel and play games all throughout Germany until early October.
Cam refers to the league as sort of a single-A type of baseball, where most players are college-age and have Division I talent.
The league is upcoming, he said, trying to make a name for itself — just like Gruell.
As a senior for the Knights who qualified for postseason play in the NAIA Tournament this season, Gruell helped Marian finish the season with a 30-23 record overall and its first win in the NAIA Tournament.
His 2016-17 stats show he played in 42 regular-season games and started 33 his senior year. He collected 26 hits, scored 11 runs, had 32 RBIs and a .358 slugging percentage.
His mom, Tracey Gruell, knows her son might not be an upcoming MLB star, but his love for the game has been unparalleled since he was a little boy.
“One of his coaches described him as one of the hardest-working players he had ever coached, and, as parents, that was the best compliment you can hear,” she said.
His father, Craig Gruell, who also served as his coach through his son’s travel ball days, said his son is more than a solid player. He somehow always finds a way to stay on the field and get results, he said.
He has encouraged his son to keep playing, even if it means traveling overseas.
“When we played travel ball, we always stressed to the kids: do this as long as you can, because when it’s over, it’s over,” his father said.
For Gruell to extend his playing career, even a little bit longer, is a blessing, the family said. Technically, because he’s getting paid to play, Gruell is a pro, he joked with his parents.
The league motto states no players will get rich but will get to travel, make new friends and have plenty of fun playing baseball, the website said. For players like Gruell, who can’t stop dreaming about maybe one day playing at the next level, there is always a chance, as long as a player keeps swinging.
“Our view is no matter where in the world you play, if you can play, somebody is going to find you,” his father said.
Gruell’s family will not have the chance to see him play in Germany this season, but if he likes overseas baseball and decides to sign up for another season, or ends up elsewhere next year, they’ll make sure to be there to cheer him on, they said.
In the meantime, Gruell is looking forward to getting on the field and was told he’ll be in a game as soon as he can get to Germany.