Profile: Gracjan Kraszewski
No one would utter the phrases "Polish National Baseball" and the "Antebellum South" in the same sentence except for Gracjan Kraszewski.
An MSU doctoral student in history, who holds both Polish and U.S. citizenships, he researches the pre-Civil War era in his studies and also plays on the Polish National Baseball team.
Born in State College, Pa. to an American father and Polish mother, Kraszewski attended first grade in Poland because of his dad's research work there, but then moved back to Pennsylvania in 1995 where he was a grade schooler in the town of Dallas.
He played Little League baseball as many young boys do, played catcher in high school, and then walked on as a red-shirt freshman in 2006 at Seton Hall University. Not seeing much playing time there, he transferred after three semesters to King's College in 2007, where he hit over .400 for his career there.
"I then got an offer after graduation in 2009 to play for the professional Ostrava Arrows team in the Czech Extra League, the top league in the Czech Republic," Kraszewski said.
Explaining that the competition in European baseball leagues is considered "somewhere between college baseball and the low minor leagues in the U.S.," he then went to play in the Belgium 1st Division for the Namur Angels for three months in 2010. Then, a friend he had played with on the Czech team convinced him to come on board with the Polish National team, where he debuted in the summer of 2011 during the European Championship Qualifier.
"We also made it to the qualifier for the 2012 European Championship, but Belgium ended up advancing instead of Poland," he said.
Having always known he wanted to also "advance" in his studies, Kraszewski had applied to Mississippi State back in 2009 after graduating from King's College, but because of his baseball commitments he didn't make the trip down to Bulldog Country and enroll until the fall of 2010.
When asked why he chose MSU for furthering his education, he said, "I've always loved the American South and had wanted to live here. Mississippi State offered me a great opportunity. This institution definitely takes care of its students."
Kraszewski completed his master's degree this past spring and now is a first-year doctoral student with two concentrations — the Antebellum South and the Polish Solidarity Movement.
The 25-year-old said that he and his wife, Katy, an MSU doctoral student in forest resources, have "found their place" here.
"We've been blown away by the South—the beautiful weather and landscape, and the really warm, sweet people," he said.Writer: Harriet Laird | Photo: Beth Wynn
Next week … Sharon Grace !