The Free Press, Mankato, MN

September 14, 2012

Ojanpa: Dobie pitches the game Down Under

By Brian Ojanpa
Free Press Staff Writer

— It’s a long way from Amboy to Australia, which suits Kate Dobie just fine because she’s building a career resume that reads like a world geography primer.

She’s interned at a Washington, D.C., research firm, taught school in China, trained clients of a Wisconsin software firm, and now dwells Down Under, where the 27-year-old Maple River High grad has immersed herself in the Perth Heat.

That’s not a reference to the Australia city’s climate; that’s the name of its professional baseball team.

In summing up her employment odyssey since graduating from St. Olaf College in 2008, Dobie goes with a wry understatement:

“This is not a normal or logical career path.”

Dobie works in the front office for the Heat under the auspices of Major League Baseball International, the global brand-building arm of the American big leagues.

She oversees ticketing operations, promotions and international relations for the club in the 3-year-old Australian Baseball League that is partially funded by Major League Baseball.

Former Minnesota Twin and Australia native Luke Hughes will join the Heat when league play begins in November, and league alum and Perth native Liam Hendriks currently pitches for the Twins.

The Heat also draws players from Japan, Korea and China.

 Dobie is fluent in Chinese, which would serve her well if she could land  her next desired job — working in Major League Baseball’s office in Beijing.

“I’ve always been interested in game development and in places where baseball isn’t very prominent.”

There have been rumblings that the major league 2014 season will open with a game in Australia, the significance of that being that 1914 was the last year the nation hosted a big league game when the Chicago White Sox and New York Giants played in Sydney.

Dobie said hosting a major league game would give baseball a huge boost in Australia, where it remains a niche sport in the shadows of Australian-rules football and cricket. 

The Amboy postmaster’s daughter is at home on ball diamonds. She played softball at Maple River High and was a two-year captain for the St. Olaf team.

She also plays outfield and pitches for a women’s baseball team in Australia, though she never played the hardball game before she went there.

“I love Australia. It has a very West Coast vibe, like San Diego or L.A.,” Dobie said of her stint in the coastal city of Perth.

She said she’s already turned “Aussie” to some extent by adopting certain turns of phrases and eating quirky foods. At baseball games, for example, the fan fare of choice are meat pies.

Dobie said no matter where her next career stop takes her, she’d like to stay involved in some capacity with Major League Baseball International.

“Like the players say, I take it one pitch at a time.”

 Brian Ojanpa is a Free Press staff writer. Call him at 344-6316 or email bojanpa@mankatofreepress.com