Dave Brandt, a Contoocook, New Hampshire native and 2012 Castleton graduate, was a star baseball player as a Spartan. He is now playing the game he loves for a small baseball league in Austria, the Austrian Baseball Federation.
Brandt, who is a player and coach for the Attnang-Puchheim Athletics, is coming off of a brilliant season which includes many accolades. He won the league’s Most Valuable Player award, leading the league in batting average.
He also won Coach of the Year. Finally, the “icing on the cake” was leading his team to a second-consecutive championship in his second year on the team.
“I had a great year personally, I played shortstop and leadoff [my lineup], and I had a lot of fun doing that. I really just had a good feel, and I had a lot of confidence that kept going through the whole year,” Brandt said.
He currently holds the single-season steals record at Castleton with 47. He had a batting average of .299 in his final year, and he won the NAC Conference Defensive Player of the Year for Center Field in 2012. His team won the NAC tournament that same year, capping off his impressive senior season.
“The one thing I was really learning how to do at Castleton was to work hard and create a good work ethic. That’s definitely been a huge part of creating my baseball opportunities,” he said.
He also has an inside-the-park grand slam, according to former teammate Cameron Curler, which proves Brandt’s extraordinary speed.
“I can say without a doubt he is the fastest player to ever wear a Castleton uniform, and it’s not likely you’ll ever see anybody who will take that away from him,” added Curler, who also praised Brandt’s defense, “I saw him get to balls and make plays that I haven’t seen made by anybody else in my years of playing and coaching.”
Brandt worked extremely hard to improve his speed throughout college.
Castleton baseball Head Coach Ted Shipley, who also coached Brandt throughout his three seasons as a Spartan, explained that, “David Brandt was a very special player for Castleton University baseball. He did work very hard on his fitness and in conjunction with our strength coach at the time, Al Jean, he trained hard to learn how to train like a ‘pro-level athlete.’ Because he was a speed athlete, he always had the potential to develop into a higher level baseball player.”
Cameron Curler built on Coach Shipley’s points. “The thing most fun to watch is how he has taken his biggest strength, speed, and worked really hard to make that strength even stronger as his playing career has progressed,” Curler said.
He has now taken that training, and his speed, to further his baseball career overseas.
The Austrian Baseball Federation is a much different baseball league compared to what we see in the United States. The game itself is the same, but the league was not.
Rather than baseball being a profession, it is more like a recreational league.
Brandt has a separate full-time job in Austria, and baseball is a separate activity. It is not taken as seriously. There were only about 2-3 practices during the week, and games are played as doubleheaders every Saturday.
“It’s like a glorified men’s league,” Brandt said. There are mostly volunteers, and only the managers and imported players like himself get paid.
Overall, the entire experience in Austria is incredible for him. Economically, Brandt has been exposed to socialism as opposed to capitalism, which is a much different economy. People go about their lives much differently there than they do in the United States. He also describes Austria as a beautiful country.
“Austria as a whole is just gorgeous. It’s mountainous. It’s really green. It’s clean, and the food is absolutely delicious. The health standards are very high, so the food is not only very good but it’s healthy.”
Living in the countryside of Austria, Brandt lives near two lakes with his family. He said that they are so clean and clear that one could drink from them.
Coming to Castleton to play baseball, his hardwork and dedication led him to this opportunity in Austria. From that, he has been able to experience a whole new country. Brandt is looking to continue his success overseas in the upcoming seasons.