Every field is a field of dreams, say two international-born Oklahoma City RedHawks

Playing professional baseball in the United States has provided opportunities for many who were not born in the country.
BY BRYAN PAINTER bpainter@opubco.com Published: July 4, 2011
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It was one of those moments when everything slows down and life becomes a little clearer.

Ryan Rowland-Smith was sitting in the visitor's dugout at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, Calif.

Rowland-Smith, a Seattle Mariners pitcher at the time, raised his head.

The Australian was staring up at what it meant to him to be playing Major League Baseball in the United States.

The 28-year-old left-handed pitcher is now with the Oklahoma City RedHawks, who return home Monday to start a seven-game homestand with a Fourth of July matchup against the Iowa Cubs at RedHawks Field at Bricktown.

“I'll never forget,” Rowland-Smith said. “I remember looking up and I had some friends from Australia who were doing some traveling and were sitting up in the stands. I was like ‘Well, if baseball never came around, I'd probably be with those guys sitting up in the stands watching a game and just thinking this is the greatest thing ever,' but I was fortunate enough to be the guy in the dugout, which was really cool.”

The RedHawks' roster includes 10 foreign-born players and one player born in Puerto Rico. Rowland-Smith from Sydney, Australia, and fellow pitcher Douglas Arguello, of Managua, Nicaragua, recently talked about the opportunities that playing professional baseball in the U.S. has provided them.

Teen from Nicaragua

Arguello was only 17 years old when the Houston Astros signed him as a non-drafted free agent Dec. 10, 2001.

Other than a stopover or two in airports, he'd never been to the U.S. before becoming a professional baseball player. Yet it was his goal.

For the longest time, his mother stressed the importance of focusing on school.

Then one day a baseball scout saw him and asked the lanky lefty if he'd like to play pro ball some day. Arguello answered “Yes” and started to work even harder. His mother noticed and asked the same question the scout had tossed at him. She received the same answer, “Yes,” he wanted to play pro ball some day.

With that, the mother gave Arguello her support.

“That's why I'm here because she's one of the ones supporting me all this time,” he said.

“My family has been supporting me all this time and reminding me what my goals are, and that's always in front of me.

“I give my best every time.”

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If you go

Fourth of July baseball

Who: Iowa Cubs vs. Oklahoma City RedHawks

When: 7:05 p.m. Monday

Where: RedHawks Field at Bricktown

Festivities: Fourth of July fireworks spectacular after the game.

Information: Call 218-1000 or go to www.okcredhawks.com

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