World Masters Games 2017: Buzzards playing in Honour of DK

In the third of our featured articles on those involved in the baseball competition at the World Masters Games 2017 in Auckland, we take a look at one team playing in honour of their former teammate.

DK Buzzards - Peter Von Zboray and Allan Carter

With an average age of 60 in their roster, the DK Buzzards certainly don't have a youth policy, but that is not an issue for this bunch of American and Australian baseball players, in Auckland for WMG2017, playing in honour of their great mate David Kelley.

David Kelley is credited with bringing baseball back in to the Masters Games in Sydney in 2009 and is greatly missed by the Buzzards who are playing in the 55+ category in Auckland. The Buzzards are based in Auburn, California, not far north of the state capital Sacremento and many of the players have played baseball together for a very long time.

"Our team is built and organised in honour of David Kelley," says team co-captain Peter Von Zboray, who hails from the team's base in Auburn, "everyone who is anyone from players to managers and organisers around the globe whose interest is international baseball, knows the name of David Kelley."

The Buzzards came into existence about ten years ago, in the 40+ recreational age grade but as time has gone on, they now play in the 50+ grade of the National Adult Baseball Association in a Sunday League which has already started so the team is missing a few games, whilst in Auckland. At the end of their regular season, the Buzzards travel to Phoenix, Arizona to play World Series games, if they qualify.

"Through all avenues of international competition, including Baseball International, Pan Pacific Games and the World Masters Games, David was the ultimate recruiter, organiser, travel mate and baseball cheerleader," says Peter, who added, "Auburn based David passed away from health issues in 2015, at the age of only 57 and he reached out to the whole world to promote baseball and his life with baseball has inspired hundreds of people to play masters baseball and we miss him and our entire 2017 campaign is in his honour."

The 2009 games in Sydney were their first overseas games following the efforts of David Kelley to get the sport back in to the World Masters Games and after a disappointing baseball tournament in Torino in 2013, Peter is delighted that baseball made it back for this years games in Auckland. 

"The association with the Buzzards from an Australian point of view began in 2004, when a number of the American arm, including Peter and David Kelley came to Australia to play and they joined forces to play in the World Masters in Edmonton, Canada and have re-united for the Pan Pacifics a number of times," according to Buzzards co-captain, Australian based Allan Carter, "I play for a small club in Melbourne called Ormond Glenhuntly which has been around since 1928 and along with the other four Melbourne based players it's been great to come together again for these games."

"A couple of our Aussie boys have also headed to Phoenix to play with the American based guys, not every year, but some years, I'm yet to experience that though," said Carter, who at 64 isn't the oldest in the team, that honour goes to third base Dan Wukmir, who turned 66 on the third day of the tournament and Allan said, "He played like a kid too, turning plays, throwing guys out and clubbed the ball too."

"This is my first visit to New Zealand and we've been looking forward to this tournament for a long time," said Carter, who finished by saying, "it's not just the players on the field who've made this trip possible, we've brought our own umpire and scorer, along with some of the wives to make this visit to New Zealand memorable."

For all the latest WMG2017 baseball fixtures and results, click here for updated schedules and scores.



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