Kiwis Worldwide: November 2013 Update
Welcome to another Kiwi's Worldwide blog where I am aiming to keep you in touch with how New Zealand baseballers are going, playing the game all around the world. This month, I will be looking back on a visit to New Zealand by one of Major League Baseball's superstars, a few kiwi's playing in the Australian Baseball League and the rise of some of our best youth players.
Well the dust has settled now after the whirlwind visit of Major League superstar Paul Goldschmidt of the Arizona Diamondbacks who captivated over 120 children at a special "Training with the Pro's" clinic at Eden Park in early November. Goldschmidt, who plays first base for the Diamondbacks had a break-out season in the Major Leagues, finishing runner up in the NL MVP voting to Pittsburgh Pirates centre fielder Andrew McCutchen, but picked up a Silver Slugger, Gold Glove and Hank Aaron award for best offensive player in the National League, and is also a finalist in the GIBBY's (Greatness in Baseball Yearly Awards) in the MVP and best hitter categories.
Goldschmidt led the National League in home runs, RBI, total bases, and OPS, and was a fantastic host at the clinic in Auckland. A very humble person, Goldschmidt not only gave hitting advice, but held court for over 20 minutes with the 120 clinic attendees who hung on every word as the first baseman spoke about how to play the game, then followed that up with an autograph session.
Goldschmidt was joined at the clinic by Australian born former Major Leaguer Craig Shipley, special assistant to Arizona GM Kevin Towers, who helped out on the field and the following night talked too many of Auckland's baseball coaches in an informal question and answer session to discuss the game and different coaching and playing techniques. The Diamondbacks were also represented in Auckland by President and CEO Derrick Hall and Senior VP of Communications Josh Rawitch who sat down with Baseball NZ CEO Ryan Flynn and other board members to see how the franchise can assist in moving the game forward in New Zealand and hopefully we will see some of that assistance flowing through the game here in the future.
On the playing side of things, four prominent Kiwi players are plying their trade in the Australian Baseball League (ABL).
Future Diamondblack infielder Alex Stuart, and current Baltimore Orioles infielder Pita Rona, are based in Perth with the Heat alongside NZ World Baseabll Classic Team Clubhouse Manager Tanerau Tuuta who helps run the day to day operations for the Perth Heat team. Across in South Australia, the Adelaide Bite have former Red Sox catcher Te Wera Bishop and Diamondblacks hurler John Holdzkom on their roster.
Rona and Stuart have been regulars in the Heat line-up, with Rona kicking off the season with a hiss and a roar with 2 hits and 3 RBI in the season opening series against Sydney Blue Sox, while Bishop and Holdzkom have only a couple of appearances with the Adelaide Bite team.
Elsewhere in Australia, Kiwi catcher Connar O'Gorman has been progressing his game in with a successful time playing for the Queensland under 23 team at the recent national tournament. He has also completed a Personal Training (PT) course and just obtained his level 4 baseball coaching certificate and is about to launch his own PT/Baseball business on the Gold Coast whilst coaching in school baseball programs in Queensland alongside club and regional team commitments.
In the New Year Connar is planning to go back to the United States to play Californian Winter League in Palm Springs with the aim of picking up an Independent league contract while also looking at the possibility of playing some baseball in Japan. I wish Connar all the best in his efforts to take his game to the next level and hopefully we can see him in a Diamondblacks uniform in years to come.
In the United States, 2 of our Diamondblacks are suffering through the northern winter as they ready themselves for the world of college baseball in the New Year, with Max Brown in Kansas and Daniel Bradley in Iowa.
Daniel Bradley has his snow shoes out at North Iowa Area Community College which is a real change for the outfielder who, whilst he was born in Dunedin, has done all of his growing up in Auckland where the snow doesn't fall all that often.
Brown and Bradley will be joined in the states next year by Auckland based pitcher MaKauley Fox who begins his studies and baseball at Oregon State University in January and I would like to wish all 3 the best as they seek to improve their game and take it to the next level.
Well that's it for now, so keep pitching, hitting, fielding or just following the great game of baseball and I would also like to take the opportunity to wish all baseballers and baseball fans a very merry Christmas and a prosperous 2014, whilst also wishing everybody good fortune on the diamonds over the summer.
I will be back in the New Year to keep you up to date with all the news on how kiwis are doing around the world playing the great game that is...baseball.