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Former Dirtbag Kasey Olenberger An Olympian For Italy


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Welcome to Dirtbags Baseball blog! I was introduced to Long Beach State baseball in 2002 when my nephew, Neil Jamison, joined the team (and university) as a freshman. I started the blog in March of 2004, and generally discuss the team, current players and those that have moved on to professional baseball - as Neil has done in the San Diego Padres organization. Living in San Diego County, and with Neil moving to the next level, I won't be attending as many Dirtbags games. But, mostly from a distance, I'll remain a Dirtbags fan. I welcome tips on stories and information concerning the Dirtbags (current, past and future). I can be contacted at


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Thursday, September 02, 2004

Former Dirtbag Kasey Olenberger An Olympian For Italy

Thanks to Niall and Sean for passing this one on. Kasey Olenberger, who pitched for Long Beach State and graduated in 2001, played on the Italian Olympic baseball team in Athens. Take a look here on And at this article in the Santa Rosa Press Democrat:

"Ex-Piner, SRJC pitcher Olenberger glad for role in games

Monday, August 23, 2004


ATHENS - Kasey Olenberger, a Piner High and Santa Rosa JC product, has experienced his Olympic moment and although he won't be coming home with a medal, it's something he'll never forget.

"Everything that's gone on here, it's been fun, the (Olympic) Village and everything, it's been a great experience," Olenberger said. "It could have been a bit better, baseball-wise. We should have played a little bit better."

Olenberger started and was the losing pitcher in last Wednesday's 10-4 defeat to The Netherlands. In his only Olympics appearance, he struck out four and gave up six earned runs on eight hits in 5ยป innings.

In a matchup of winless teams, the Italians lost, 12-7, on Saturday against Greece, and then bowed out of the tournament on Sunday with a 5-0 loss to Cuba. The Italian team finished the Games tied with Greece with a 1-6 record. Italy's only win was over Chinese Taipei, 5-4.

Olympic eligibility rules state that a player must have at least one grandparent native to the applicable team's country, so Olenberger made it because his grandmother in Santa Rosa is the last of the family to be born in Italy.

Getting ready for Olympic baseball wasn't Olenberger's biggest hurdle. It was the Italian language.

"I can get by over in Parma (the team's home base), but the language overall is difficult," he said.

Eight teams started the Olympic tournament, including Greece, a first-time entrant and in the mix because it is the host country. The USA team failed to qualify. But just as the Italian team is made up primarily of Americans of Italian extraction, the host Greek squad also has only two native-born players, with the rest being Americans of Greek heritage.

Olenberger's parents, Larry and Mary Olenberger, live in Santa Rosa. Larry Olenberger is a former baseball coach and currently a scout for the Anaheim Angels.

Olenberger graduated in 2001 from Long Beach State with a degree in communications. He pitched and played outfield at SRJC, and was a pitcher at Long Beach.

The Greek facilities impressed Olenberger.

"The fields are awesome," Olenberger said. "This is great, to be back in a stadium. Our home field in Parma (Italy) is nice, but if you go to some other fields, it's not as built up as this. I heard before the Olympics that these would be the best fields in Europe."

The Olympic Baseball Center was built on the grounds of the old Athens airport in 2001. There was a long-time American air base there as well, so a couple of old fields were refurbished into state-of-the-art facilities.

The main baseball stadium seats only about 7,500, but it is a world-class ballpark that could easily be expanded. Just next door is a comparable softball facility.

Olenberger said he understood a Greek win would be good for the nation's baseball program.

"I would hope so," he said. "It would be a shame to have these fields go to waste. (Greece) is still a good team. They're trying to save face just like we are; they don't want to get shut out here. It's hard when you have worked so hard.""

posted on 9/02/2004 by Jeff Agnew

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