TORONTO -- It was almost 10 years ago that Anthony Gose left the United States for the first time. Then 14 years old, he was part of a select baseball team that headed Down Under to Australia for a two-week tournament. Players would billet with host families of a local player for the duration of the stay, and in a coincidence not fully appreciated until this season, Gose's billets happened to be the Hendriks family.
As in, Blue Jays pitcher Liam Hendriks, who was optioned to Triple-A Buffalo following Sunday's 4-0 win against the Royals.
"I'm not sure a lot of people know this about him, but Liam was choosing between baseball and Australian football," said Gose, who spent Christmas with Hendriks and his family that year. "And he didn't always pitch. He was playing the outfield, first, maybe third. Everyone was talking about him back then."
Hendriks can't remember if he was "15 or 16" at the time, but his earliest memory of Gose is seeing a left-handed, smoke-throwing pitcher on the mound. That's a far cry from the speedy center fielder Blue Jays fans have become familiar with since Gose was recalled from Triple-A Buffalo on May 15.
"He was a still a great defender, but he had a cannon on the mound, and pitched like 93 [mph] and had a 75-mph changeup," said Hendriks, who was recalled from Buffalo on May 23.
Gose hasn't been back to Australia since. It's a long flight and an expensive trip. But he does remember Australia bringing with it many first experiences, including seeing a kangaroo, learning to play poker, and going to the beach on Christmas, something unfathomable for most North Americans.
"It was cool to spend Christmas in the summer," Gose said. "It was 90 degrees, and when you're in the United States, it's not necessarily freezing, but you're thinking about winter. But down on that side of the world, they're going to the beach."
But perhaps the thing that stood out most was the fact that Hendriks was being heavily scouted at the time. He was still too young to sign, but Gose remembers a lot of fanfare around the now 25-year-old. Gose's aspirations were to play in the Major Leagues, so to be around someone who was getting big-league attention was "pretty cool", he said.
"I don't think he had signed yet, I don't remember. But it was around that time and there was a lot going on with it," Gose said.
Jamie Ross is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.