Meet Zagreb Red Sox, Only Boston Affiliated Baseball Club Outside of US

Daniela Rogulj

Zagreb Red Sox Facebook

November 1, 2019 – Established in 1901, the Boston Red Sox are one of America’s most recognizable sports teams. Today, you can find a part of them in Zagreb. Meet the Zagreb Red Sox, the only Boston-affiliated baseball club outside the US.

“We were connected through the US Embassy and were joined by the third-oldest military organization in the world… so they called us from Boston and sent us everything… it’s a crazy story!”

Izvor Ocvirek (37), president of the Zagreb Red Sox baseball club, begins with enthusiasm in an interview for 24 Sata

But let’s backtrack a minute. 

Namely, one of the largest and most famous baseball clubs in the world, the Boston Red Sox, adopted one of the three baseball clubs in Zagreb. 

“It’s like if Barcelona took a branch of Stupnik.  And we are the only baseball club outside the US that is a Boston affiliate,” said Ocvirek proudly.

The American sports giant, whose value, according to Forbes, is $3.2 billion, also brings in annual revenue of $516 million and spends $247 million on player salaries. That said, it wasn’t all that surprising that they immediately sent equipment to Zagreb and dressed the players from head to toe.

“Each kid carries $200 – $250 worth of equipment,” the president added.


But the story doesn’t stop there.

“They offered to fund our infrastructure improvements, and even build a baseball stadium! But the problem is that we don’t have the terrain, at all,” said Vice President and head coach Ozren Zec (37).

Since there are no more playgrounds in Središće, Zagreb’s three baseball clubs (Zagreb, Medvednica and ex. Novi Zagreb, now Zagreb Red Sox) are left with just one place to play, on Jarun. The Zagreb Red Sox train in a meadow, without a parcel of land suitable for the Americans to build in reach.

“We are the best dressed in our league, and we practice in a meadow. We can’t even train with the right ball, to ensure we don’t damage a car or window, but practice with hollow balls that are lightweight, and only play with the real ball during games,” said Zec. Ocvirek added:

“And the Americans, distinguished guests from the Embassy, visited us in our meadow. And they enjoyed it. Because they felt our love and sincerity.”

Boston also connected them with the Little League, an organization that runs young baseball competitions around the world.

“This is a competition we started in 2016, and it is played in parallel to the Croatian Championship, for ages up to 12 years. There are between five and seven clubs with us, and millions of players around the world, even parts of Africa, India, Pakistan… It’s the most massive competition in the world. The Little League is well known in America and has powerful marketing,” Zec explains, and continues:


“We got into this story by chance, when Robert Mathers, an American Embassy employee, came to us at one game and asked if his son could come to practice baseball. He hooked us up with Ambassador Robert Kohorst, who is a big Little League fan. And after his term in office, he wants to volunteer in the organization to follow his grandson.”

The second pillar between the Embassy and the Boston Red Sox was the AHAC (Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company of Massachusetts), the third-oldest military organization in the world, founded in 1638. Its representatives, along with a group of Boston businesspeople, visited Zagreb and liked the idea of adopting a small club from Zagreb. That company is affiliated with the Red Sox owner, who also enthusiastically embraced the idea. Thus, the Zagreb Red Sox were born. 

“Their eyes narrowed when I told them the legend that after one victory, Napoleon asked who was in his unit, and they replied that it was mostly Croats, so he said ‘Give me 100,000 Croats and I will conquer the world!’” Ocvirek revealed.

There are no Croats in the Boston Red Sox, or the MLB, but that could change.

“We have just under 50 boys, and now we are enrolling in new ages 8-15. We cooperate with the Embassy as well as the American School in Zagreb. More than ten boys attending the American school play with us, but only one of them has played baseball in the US before. We convincingly won the Little League this year. Other clubs were known to have the best kids, and I believe they won’t anymore,” Zec added.

The Boston Red Sox even invited the Zagreb club to watch their games, train, and learn something new. 

“We have entered their development program, where there is also education for coaches and players, or maybe their coaches will come here to teach us. They are aware of the popularity of baseball in Croatia, but the MLB is working intensively to increase its popularity in the rest of the world. That’s why some MLB games were played in Europe this year,” Ocvirek says.


Thus, this small baseball club won the hearts of Americans and became a link between Boston and Zagreb; and a gathering place for the American community in Zagreb.

Translated from 24 Sata

To read more about sport in Croatia, follow TCN’s dedicated page


Subscribe to our newsletter

the fields marked with * are required
Email: *
First name:
Last name:
Gender: Male Female
Please don't insert text in the box below!

Leave a Comment