We recently met up with Justin Lacche, who serves in a part-time role as President of Business and Media for the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes (Short-season affiliate of the San Francisco Giants); Lacche is also in his eighth season with the Beaverton Cricket Badshahs (a member of the American Cricket Federation), becoming the first Badshahs batsman to score 1,000 runs earlier this season. Lacche’s day job is with a Fortune 50 sports company.
Q: What does it mean to be playing for a team that’s a member of the American Cricket Federation?
A: ACF has been a tremendously important and positive step in the evolution of cricket in the United States; they came along at an urgent time in the sport’s narrative in the USA. I’m proud to be affiliated with ACF as are scores of ACF teams and thousands of players.
Q: How does a Minor League Baseball executive, part of an organization that has won three World Series this decade, come into cricket?
A: My cricket story actually started as a child. I grew up in the Pacific Northwest at a time when companies like Nike, Intel and Microsoft brought global talent to the community. Many of my friends were from cricket playing countries and soon all us kids were playing street cricket. That’s why I strongly support ACF’s programs teaching the game to young people: I believe that is the fastest and most sustainable way to bring cricket to the same American fluency as its cousins baseball and cricket.
I’ve been in Minor League Baseball since 2006; first with the Vermont Lake Monsters, thanks to C.J. Knudsen and Nate Cloutier; by 2009 I started playing cricket for the Badshahs and the hunger for more day-to-day duties grew: Jerry, Lisa and Mickey Walker, gave me a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity in 2010 to join the Volcanoes: our players and coaches have helped win three World Series during that time; it’s beyond a dream come true. The Walkers are also one of the great examples of running an organization with honor and integrity, as I have ever known, which makes me more motivated to do my part to help exceed our goals.
Q: You’ve also been a batting practice player for the Volcanoes for five seasons; how different is it than playing cricket?
A: To me, baseball, softball and cricket are all first cousins: all have a common DNA that are transferable; likewise, all have so many unique and wonderful nuances that you can spend a lifetime learning and striving to perfect.
I play cricket because I enjoy the camaraderie with my team mates and we are on a now eight-year journey to win a championship. We came extremely close last season; but unfortunately they don’t give out “extremely close” championship trophies; so our quest continues under the leadership of our great captain, Hrishikesh Bhalwankar.
Playing baseball is my challenge to myself to remain accountable to our players, who I am extremely proud of. I’m sure every professional franchise will say this: but for years, I have seen first-hand, that the San Francisco Giants take excellence, integrity, diversity, community and education very seriously.
I know it is so exciting and easy to be passionate about sports; I think the pressure and leadership our full-time players and coaches bring every day is impressive and sometimes underappreciated by fans – albeit innocently. We all want to win, but in the end, the players carry an extreme burden every waking minute to win.
The same is true with my cricket team mates: the sports rules have their differences, but the skill, focus and commitment are very much the same.
Q: What’s next in your journey of sports?
A: I’m grateful for every day in sports and sports business; there have been dozens of inspiring and talented people who have taken the time to make me a better athlete, executive…a better father and man, for that matter. I can’t say I know exactly what tomorrow will bring, but I hope it finds me in uniform with my team mates, working toward a championship title. There really are few other things in life that makes me feel so alive.
To learn more about the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes, visit: www.volcanoesbaseball.com
To learn more about the Beaverton Cricket Badshahs, visit: www.stadiumcricket.com
To learn more about the ACF, visit: www.americancricketfederation.org