Pitching in the Americas

Mitch Lively
Mitch Lively '07 (Organizational Communications) experienced success while pitching in Venezuela, leading his team to the Caribbean World Series title.

Baseball may be America’s pastime, but the sport has taken Mitch Lively ’07 (Organizational Communications) to another continent.

Former relief pitcher for the Fresno Grizzlies and Sac State closer, Lively spent the last two offseasons pitching in the Venezuelan Winter League. He recently lived in the South American country’s third-largest city, Valencia, for three-and-a-half months. On July 17 Lively joined the Syracuse Chiefs, the minor leauge affiliate of the Washington Nationals. 

“I loved the experience. It’s amazing to travel and see another culture and how other people live,” Lively says. “It’s an awesome opportunity that I’m blessed to have been given.”

Although twice the size of California, Venezuela felt much smaller to Lively.

“There was definitely a culture shock. Things we take for granted such as a cold glass of milk and drinking water out of the faucet made me realize how good we have it in the States,” he says. “There is also no middle class, either you’re poor or filthy rich.”

On the field, Lively experienced great success as a starting pitcher for Club de los Navegantes del Magallanes. He registered a 6-1 record and earned the Pitcher of the Year award. His stellar season led to an appearance in the Caribbean World Series, where his club won the championship.

The game experience and style of play in Venezuela is also different compared to America. Lively says the crowd is similar to that of a soccer match—loud horns, flags and chants surround the stadium. The fans are enthusiastic and were loyal toward popular players such as Lively.

“The fans are awesome. Anywhere I went people knew me. Families wanted me to take pictures with their babies. It was exciting,” he says.

Lively enjoyed creating bonds with the people of Venezuela—making new friends off the field and visiting a few underprivileged schools where he played catch with kids. He found simple ways to connect with the people of the host country such as the time he saw a family in line at the grocery store and purchased them an extra meal.

Having an active role in the community is nothing new to Lively. While with Fresno, he was a two-time recipient of the “Mr. Grizzlies Award” for being the face of the Grizzlies and volunteering, Lively loved to give back to the Fresno community by donating his time at children’s hospitals.

Venezuela is now a second home to Lively, and a place he wishes to return after this season with the Chiefs.

“I love the country. It’s beautiful and I want to play there as long as possible,” he says.

Contributed by new alumnus Sam Churich '14 (Communication Studies)