This one goes out to all those Aussie players who have dedicated their lives to the beautiful game of baseball. What I knew of Australian baseball before I arrived here was just what I learned from my interactions with guys that Ive played with. As Americans we tend to think the rest of the world is just like us and that’s just how it is. In reality the world is quite different from what we get at home. Ive played baseball in 2 other countries besides my own during my career and the common bond between those countries is baseball.
I wanted to write this blog because of the passion and dedication that I've witnessed from my teammates with Aces. Some of these guys are grown men with families, wives, kids, and real jobs. Some are just out of club ball looking to take that next step to get to the big leagues. When I first arrived I thought that the players on the Aces were there just to play for the Aces. I thought that was their only job, play baseball, practice baseball and live baseball. The truth is my perception was completely wrong. Some of these guys hold regular 9-5 jobs during the week and play baseball for the Aces on the weekend. If our series starts on a Thursday, they are taking the day off of work to play the game they love. Its not like they are making a ton of money to play for the Aces either. The average player makes about 200 bucks a series in the ABL. Just for reference a waiter at a restaurant makes about 15 dollars an hour. The jobs these guys are taking are not just desk jobs filing papers or typing on a computer all day. Some of the jobs are manual labor jobs like driving heavy machinery or electricians. In some cases they work all day in the blistering Melbourne sun and come straight to the field, change into their uniforms and practice or play. In fact most nights of the week you will find club ball teams practicing all over the city. If guys are not playing or practicing with they Aces, they are playing or practicing with their club teams.
The dedication doesn’t just happen at home either. When we go on road trips, often times we have players that have to fly out at a later time or even a later day because they have commitments to work. For example if we have a 5 games series starting on Wednesday in Perth we would have to leave early Wednesday morning. For some guys they cannot afford or just cant get the time off to drop everything and fly out to play baseball. They would fly out after work on Wednesday or a day or two later to join the team for the weekend. Then we all would fly back Sunday night and they are back up Monday morning and back at work. That’s dedication.
I think what impresses me most about my Australian teammates is their genuine kindness and helpfulness. Everyone on our team is more than willing to help one another at any given time. Whether its giving us a ride home or to the airport; trying endlessly to teach us the rules of cricket; or just answering our seemingly endless questions about Australia, everyone always has a smile on their face and a bounce in their step. They make us feel like we are one of them and part of the family. This is especially helpful for some of us who have families of our own back home and due to time differentials we are unable to keep in contact as much as we would like.
This type of commitment, kindness and helpfulness doesn’t just end with the Melbourne Aces. All the Australian players that Ive had the privilege of meeting or playing beside are like this. They all have smiles on their faces, kindness in their hearts and a passion for the game. It goes to show that no matter what country you live in, no matter what language you speak, once you are between the white lines everyone knows the game of baseball.
The main purpose of this blog was for me to tip my cap and give a standing ovation to my teammates for their passion and dedication to the sport. I think it goes a long way to show that Australian pride and passion is still very strong and the state of baseball in this country is just as strong as it has ever been. The future of Major League Baseball in Australia will be just as bright and prosperous as the people are.
Thank you guys for making my time in the ABL a very enjoyable one and showing me what hard work really is. Thank you for allowing me to come to your country and partake in this game with you. It helps keep my fire burning to dedicate myself to getting back to the Major Leagues.
This was the hardest blog to write so far because without witnessing or taking part in what is going on out here you will never fully understand what Ive seen and what Im trying to convey. I hope some understanding of the commitment these guys make gets through to you the reader.