July 21, 2004: Not only
will two men from the same American minor league team be playing for the
Greek Olympic baseball team in Athens next month, but their Greek
ancestors are from the same small island in Greece! Infielder
Pete Maestrales and
outfielder Chris Van Rossum
will be among fifteen or so American players of Greek descent to take
their places on the Greek team in Athens this August.
spoke with Chris and
Pete before a recent game. "My mother is full-blooded Greek.
Her mother was born on the same island as Pete's grandfather," says Chris.
An American player must have
at least one grandparent (or, in some cases, one great-grandparent) of
Greek extraction to be eligible to represent Greece, the home country of
the Olympics and the host country this year. Pete’s paternal
grandfather and Chris’s maternal grandmother are both from the small
island of Chios in the North Aegean Sea, opposite the shores of ancient
Ionia. After substantiating their Greek ancestry, Pete and Chris received
Greek passports and now hold dual citizenship in Greece and the United
Both men have played in
international competition before. As we reported
last summer, Pete distinguished himself as a member of the Greek team
in the European Senior Championships, winning both the bases stolen and
the runs scored titles. The Greek team finished second in the
championships to the powerhouse Netherlands. Chris played for the
Greek team in the European Senior Games in 2002.
In March of this year, Pete and Chris participated in Olympic test events
in Athens. These included not only a tournament, in which the Greek
team won the gold medal, but a series of walk-throughs for the Olympic
stadium and security personnel and preparations for the media.
Pete and Chris will be absent
for most of the month of August, leaving in time to practice with the
Greek team for about a week prior to the opening ceremonies on August 14,
and returning about one week after the closing ceremonies on August 29.
They will be placed on the Bears’ inactive list for that period.
Pete expects members of his
family to be in Athens to watch him play. Speaking of his
opportunity to be in the Olympics, Pete says, “It’ll be the highlight of