Interview With Nashville Sound's Outfielder - Trent Oeltjen
By Kili Hood
When most people think of Australian athletes, baseball certainly is not at the top of the list. At a young age, Australian kids are introduced into the country’s biggest sports – cricket, rugby and of course, swimming. So how did the Nashville Sounds end up with Trent Oeltjen, a guy from Sydney on the team? Having lived in Australia myself, I wondered the same thing. So I sat down with the outfielder to find out. Turns out Oeltjen's father is originally from Seattle, so he signed Trent up for a t-ball league when he was five years old, and it just took off from there.
Oeltjen arrived in United States back in 2001 when he broke into professional baseball as a member of the Minnesota Twins organization and is now in his 10th professional season. Despite being halfway around the world, Oeltjen has embraced America as his home away from home. "I love it here. I go home every off season, so I get the benefit of summer all year long. I haven't had a winter in nine years," Oeltjen said with a grin. Lucky guy, he gets the best of both worlds, literally.
When asked what he sees to be one of the biggest differences between here and Australia, Oeltjen said mostly, in his world anyways, is the attention baseball gets. Despite winning a silver medal playing for the Australian team in the 2004 Summer Olympic Games in Athens, Oeltjen still has a hard time convincing his mates in Australia that baseball is a real sport. "When I go home, people always ask why I’m still playing baseball. They tell me to play a real sport, like some rugby or cricket," laughed Oeltjen. “I just tell them no, you should come over and watch. There are big stadiums and lots of people watching baseball.”
In fact, last season, Oeltjen got called up to the big leagues for the first time with the Arizona Diamondbacks. "It was incredible," Oeltjen said. "My mom and sister came over and were amazed at the triple-decks on the stadium and that there were 30,000 people at our game. We'd be at the mall and random people would say hello. They couldn’t believe people recognized me from the games being on television.”
In his first season with the Sounds, Oeltjen is really enjoying his time here in Nashville, calling it a great city, and is even slowly becoming a country music fan. However, he does stay true to his Aussie roots when it comes to pre-game rituals. “A lot of the guys think it’s weird that I like to go swimming before the game,” Oeltjen said. “Rain, hail or shine, I try to find a pool to swim in. I’ll drive around town to try to find one.” Whatever he’s doing seems to be working, as he’s having a pretty good year, swinging the bat well, and is tied for 8th in the league with 14 doubles. He also seems to be a fan favorite, receiving extra loud cheers at every at-bat - not sure, but I think part of it could be the accent!
After a bit of a rough road trip out west, only managing three victories in eight games, the Sounds returned home to Greer stadium hoping to get back to their winning ways. While their record on this homestand of 5-3 may not seem overly impressive, the Sounds fans were treated to some great games, including three walk-off wins. The team took a bit of an offensive hit, however, when Adam Heether, who had been swinging a hot bat as of late, was claimed off waivers by the Oakland Athletics. Luckily, several other players have picked up the pace to give the team an offensive boost. The Sounds still hold the second best record in the league, at 31-23.
The Sounds are hitting the road once again, for a four game set against the Round Rock Express. The guys will enjoy an off day, before wrapping up the road trip with four games against the Omaha Royals. They return home to Greer Stadium on June 14, where they'll face the division rival Memphis Redbirds, followed by four games with the Oklahoma City RedHawks.