Three times a foe, local pitcher brings arm home to Goldeyes Habeck played for trio of teams against Fish as pandemic subsitute

It was a bizarre situation, but it was one that helped Marc-André Habeck get his baseball career back on track.

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It was a bizarre situation, but it was one that helped Marc-André Habeck get his baseball career back on track.

It was August of 2021 and the Winnipeg Goldeyes were back at home playing at Shaw Park after the pandemic forced the club to play as a travelling team for a year and a half.

There was a stipulation, though. To cross the border to play at the downtown ballpark, all players and managers had to be vaccinated. For some of the teams in the American Association loop, that was an issue, leading to several ballclubs having to scramble and sign local talent when it was their turn to visit the Prairies.

One of those names that got the call was Habeck, a right-handed pitcher from Winnipeg who spent two seasons overseas playing professionally in the Italian Serie A league between 2018-19.


Marc-Andre Habeck has played for France’s national team and in the Italian Serie A league.

Habeck ended up making three appearances against the Fish with three different teams: the Sioux City Explorers, Kane County Cougars and Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks.

The Bonivital Black Sox product finished with a 1-1 win-loss record and a 4.50 ERA in 16 innings of work.

“Yeah that was a surprise, I wasn’t really expecting it. To be honest, it re-jumpstarted my career because those two COVID years I wasn’t really playing as I wasn’t able to go to Italy,” Habeck said Friday. “So, I kind of stopped baseball and was just golfing both of those summers. So, having that opportunity come up and doing well while I was out of baseball shape kind of fired me up to work hard to see what else I could do, get in shape, and see if I could move up.”

His first game came with Sioux City and he gave up zero runs in 4.1 innings. His family and friends showed up in droves as he had over 40 supporters in the crowd cheering every strike.

“It was really cool and really weird at the same time. It was kind of bizarre pitching against the Goldeyes and having friends there cheering against them, but it’s going to be the other way around this way,” said Habeck.

Indeed it will, as the Goldeyes signed him to a contract earlier this week. Habeck will be the first Manitoban to suit up for the Fish since Ryan Johnson pitched a few games for the club in 2019. Before Johnson, the last hometown hurler to make the team was Donnie Smith in 2006.

Habeck, 29, returned to Italy last year and pitched for Parma where he went 7-0 with a 2.14 earned run average in 17 appearances. Habeck played college ball at Frank Phillips College (Borger, Texas) and Georgia State University (Atlanta). As his father was born in France, Habeck has also pitched for the French national team in World Baseball Classic Qualifying in 2022 and the European Championships in 2019 and 2021.

Goldeyes triumph in thriller

“I’m super excited. It’s something I’ve wanted the last couple of years and I’ve kind of worked myself into it,” said Habeck.

“It’s definitely a step up from the Italian league. As an athlete, you always want to try to prove yourself at a higher level every year. And then just being at home and having the comfort of that and having friends and family being able to come and watch (is great).”

This past season saw Habeck close out the championship deciding game in the European Cup — which features the top professional baseball teams across Europe — to lift Parma over the Amsterdam Pirates.

What pushed the Goldeyes to make a move was last week when Habeck threw a live session in front of the team’s hitting coach Amos Ramon and outfielder Max Murphy, last season’s American Association Player of the Year. Habeck impressed them both, leading to Ramon getting on the phone with the club’s new manager, Greg Tagert.

“As an athlete, you always want to try to prove yourself at a higher level every year.”–Marc-André Habeck

“There’s a lot of top talent in this league. And if there are guys that I think can compete at this level, it doesn’t matter if you’re from Winnipeg or anywhere in the country, if you can compete, you can compete and I think Marc has the ability,” said Ramon.

“So, having him I think is going to be great for Winnipeg to have a local guy on the team again. I’m very excited to have Marc and I think he’ll do well. I think he’ll make the team.”

Spring training begins May 3. The Goldeyes open the season on the road on May 11 against the Gary SouthShore RailCats.

Twitter: @TaylorAllen31

Taylor Allen

Taylor Allen

Eighteen years old and still in high school, Taylor got his start with the Free Press on June 1, 2011. Well, sort of...

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