Australian baseball on the move with the ABL


latrobe field in melbourne.JPGSpending a little time in the “land of down under” this week before heading to the winter meetings in Indianapolis.  We have been checking in on the developments of the Australian Baseball League ( ABL) sites and fields.   

A ball game was being played at a small ballpark on the outskirts of Melbourne in Latrobe.  It was pretty cool seeing about 3000
packed house in latrrobe.JPGpeople sitting around a ballpark in arm chairs watching a minor level league baseball game.  There is no permanent seating at the ballpark so everyone brings there own seats.  MLB has injected a few typical minor league game gimmicks such as the dizzy bat spin, Frisbees in the stadium, inflatables,  etc… They played the “charge” song and not one person said a word.  (Guess that’s an American thing.)  The 5th inning drag was in the 7th an since the “take me out to the ball game) song was not there they played AC/ DC instead.  Having traveled to Australia a few times and I have fully realized that even though they speak english like Americans…they have a very different culture towards sports and life, in a good way!   The game attendance was good  indicator that  the league is progressing well in its infancy. 

homebush sign.JPGIt’s been quite the whirlwind tour thus far as we had a chance to see the Show grounds at Homebush where the main baseball venue was located during the 2000 Sydney Olympics.  The “show grounds” are currently used for a cattle show during March and April and outside of that… they play a little Ausie rules footy on the surface.  Not much left at the venue that tells anyone it was an Olympic venue except a VERY small plaque inside the gates.   The legacy of the Sydney Olympic Baseball venues moved to Blacktown which is about 30 minutes outside of town. We stopped by there briefly and I hoped to catch Matty Carnes but we missed him.  That venue is also being used for the ABL.  It was looking pretty tired during this trip but that’s expected when you have a ton of use on the field.  The cooch grass was  also coming out of winter. At least there are some remnants of the 2000 Olympic team. 

So for the record the last 4 main baseball stadiums used in the Olympics have either been torn down or turned into a venue for other uses instead of baseball.  Kind of a sad statement but unfortunately true.  The main baseball stadiums at Atlanta Fulton County, Sydney, Athens,  Beijing…GONE!

In Melbourne today to see a ABL venues then up to Brisbane to check out another ABL site.  Weather has been pretty nice and as usual the people great.  Some of the soil profiles we have seen of the cooch grass have been really nice.  There are a lot of cricket pitches in Australia there for they understand the need for high level maintenance for pitchers and batters.   Maintaining the wicket of a cricket field is similar to how we maintain pitching mounds. The balance between moisture levels is critical to ensuring proper ball bounce. 

The profile of the soil and turf in this photo show the difference in soils you may see on a cricket pitch


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