US import Chuck Lofgren digging in his heels for the Bandits

Chuck-Lofgren

It writes like a country song.

American boy labours through the minor leagues suddenly finds himself in sunny Queensland Australia.

And it’s a song the Australian Baseball League liked the tune of securing a 6’3″ San Franciscan southpaw to join the Brisbane Bandits for the 2012/2013 season.

Since his arrival in November, 26-year-old Charles Walfred Lofgren has been endearing himself to teammates and fans alike, who call him ‘Chuck’.

This week, it was announced that Lofgren was a nominee for the 2013 ABL Fan Choice Award.

Hailing from Redwood City, San Francisco, Lofgren was drafted out of high school in the 2004 MLB draft. The Cleveland Indians secured Lofgren in the fourth round and wasted little time putting their ripe lefty in to action.

With only one full season under his belt, Lofgren was a starting pitcher for the Carolina League in the Carolina-California League in 2006 at nineteen years of age. Lofgren struck out two in his lone inning of work. In 2008, Lofgren was called up to play in the All-Star Futures Game.

After four years in the Indians system, the Milwaukee Brewers signed Lofgren in 2009 and he began the 2010 season with the Triple-A Nashville Sounds.

In Nashville, Lofgren was able to indulge in another passion outside of baseball; country music. In 2010, Lofgren took the stage with Garth Brooks, fulfilling another one of his dreams.

When his Triple-A season was drawing to a close, Lofgren was ready to make his way back home. With the San Francisco Giants firmly in his sights, he filed for free agency and it paid off.

In 2011 he joined the Giants High-A affiliate team the San Jose Giants and received a mid-season call up to the Triple-A team Fresno Grizzlies. Flirting with the possibility of reaching the MLB as a hitter, Lofgren resigned from the Giants in September.

Prior to his trip down under, Lofgren joined Independent League team the Amarillo Sox.

The Australian Baseball League welcomed Chuck with open arms; a strong left-handed starter is just what the Brisbane Bandits ordered.

“I’ve played all over the world, including Europe and Japan, so I didn’t know what to expect when I found out I was coming to Australia. It has been great, especially my teammates.”

“It’s been an amazing opportunity to fly to a different state every weekend and seeing the whole country.” said Lofgren, who along with teammate Chris Smith are dubbed ‘The Flavour Savers.”

Going into tonight’s start in the crucial series against the Sydney Blue Sox Lofgren has a 4-2 win/loss record, an ERA of 2.53, and 54 strikeouts through 57 innings pitched in his ten mound appearances for the Bandits.

Outside of baseball, Lofgren is grateful for his time in the Australian summer, noting his stay with the local family, the Pinders as one of the highlights of his season. Last season, the Pinders hosted Italian import Alex Maestri, American Sean Jarrett and Japanese Umpire Taka Matsuda.

“They’re great people and I’m very fortunate to have them open their home to me. It’s always a laugh at the Pinders and (parents) Dave and Carla are just great people.” said Lofgren.

Lofgren has made a positive impact on the Australians he has encountered; in fact, after The ABL Buzz met Lofgren in Adelaide, they started a viral campaign on Twitter: #letchuckswingit.

Writer Boris Kilpatrick introduced him “Chuck throws it. Chuck hits it. Chuck is a good bloke.”

“Chuck comes across as an easy going, personable guy that knows where he has been and where he wants to go in the baseball world.” Kilpatrick described Lofgren in his article for the Buzz.

Hopefully, this will translate in to votes for the ABL Fan Choice Award which closes Saturday.

“I’m really honoured by the nomination,” said Lofgren. “I really appreciate the fans here and back home coming together and voting for me. Everyday I’m grateful for where I am at.”

After seven years in the minors, and a solid future ahead of him, with seven years of minor league experience behind him, Lofgren knows exactly what he’s got to do: just dig in and keep on singing.

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