Great story on him via John Manuel at BBA.
Here’s the text:
Johnny Damon was the big story of Thailand’s World Baseball Classic entry.
The 39-year-old big league vet, he of the 2,769 career hits and 408 stolen bases, earned the WBC qualifier’s biggest headlines when he agreed to play for Thailand, his mother’s native country. Damon, who was released by the Indians in August, ranks as one of America’s most famous Thai-Americans, eclipsed perhaps only by Tiger Woods.
Steve Meinke hasn’t made Wikipedia’s entry of famous Thai-Americans, but he has some camera time, as a hand model. He also worked for MTV’s “Road Rules” in the casting department, among other occupations.
Meinke also played baseball in high school and briefly at Division III Westminster (Mo.) in 1998. He went 1-for-2, he said, and didn’t play much baseball—and none in an organized manner—for more than a decade.
Like Damon, Meinke has an American dad and a Thai mother, and when his friends in the casting world told him that “Moneyball” was being made into a move, he got himself into shape and tried out for the chance to play Damon. In the process, he lost 25 pounds and enjoyed playing the game again.
He didn’t make it into the movie, but he did get the baseball bug a bit, and tried to get in touch with Thailand’s baseball federation when he heard the nation was going to be included in the expanded WBC. Through a series of emails, he earned himself a tryout with the national team (at his own expense). He lived and trained with them for five weeks in August and September, earning a spot on the team as a pitcher.
“I had to deal with the language barrier, chickens, oldness, no medical training, more oldness, blown hamstring, water and food poisoning, more injuries, the whole cultural aspect of society there, and of course their approach to baseball, which many times drove me crazy,” Meinke said. “And I loved every minute of it.”
For his trouble, Meinke got to make a WBC-paid trip to Taiwan as a member of the Thai national team, where Damon was his teammate. “Johnny was always awesome and considerate to his teammates,” Meinke said, “and always warmed up with the non-Americans and even had the players sign his jersey.”
Meinke never got into a game, though. He was warming up in one game that Thailand lost by mercy rule, and was set to pinch-hit in another game that also ended early by mercy rule.
But he has something in common with guys from Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz to Derek Jeter, Miguel Cabrera and David Price.
He was Johnny Damon’s teammate.
Anyone know how to say “Moonlight Graham” in Thai?