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Bears Pete Maestrales and Chris Van Rossum to play in 2004 Olympic Games

What Are The Odds?

More Athens Olympic coverage

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.  Newark Bears Fan 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 States.

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 my career.” 

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