USA Baseball caught up with Chris George as part of its weekly Q&A series with members of the historic 2000 U.S. Olympic Baseball Team.
USA Baseball: What is the one memory that stands out from your Olympic Games experience in 2000?
Chris George: I would have to say standing on the podium. When they played the National Anthem my sense of patriotism and pride for the United States of America really came out. It was something that I was unaware of before that moment. Winning the gold medal and hearing that song played really made me appreciate where I was from.
USAB: Do you have any funny stories from your time with the Olympic team?
CG: The thing I remember in particular is getting on the buses that they used to drive us around the Olympic Village in. Just being in awe of the physical specimens participating in the games, and then you have a bunch of baseball players out there who don't necessarily have to be in tip-top shape to play well. The contrast between these athletes who have devoted their entire lives to this event and then us out there having a good time was interesting. The difference between the real athletes and the baseball players was very funny.
USAB: What was it like to play for Tommy Lasorda?
CG: Tommy Lasorda was a trip. I mean his resume is as impressive as they come. He didn't need to be out there doing what he was doing and inspiring us, which is what he did, but, he chose to, and I was very grateful for that.
USAB: Do you think playing in the Olympics helped you as a professional athlete because the next year you made the jump to the big leagues?
CG: I did actually think that and it certainly didn't hurt if anything. For me the majority of my time has been spent in the minor leagues, and I got a little time in the big leagues. Winning that gold medal has given my career more of a definition and something to hang my hat on. If I never play another day in the big leagues I will always have that gold medal and that's something special.
USAB: Prior to the 2000 Olympics, you had already played in a Team USA jersey with the 1997 18U Pan Am Team. What did that experience do to prepare you for Sydney and in your professional career?
CG: That sort of jump-started my whole experience in international baseball and it gave me an appreciation for the game that you can't describe unless you have been there. You have the idea and understanding that the game is a common thread that can literally unite people from all over the world. Playing with guys from different nationalities is amazing. You have to know a little bit about where these guys come from in order to get a long when you are in the clubhouse. I have gone to Mexico and Puerto Rico, and I have felt comfortable because I have an appreciation and respect for the way the game is played elsewhere.
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