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Alumni winds down

Kingsley Collins

20 September 2019


After progressively scaling back its online presence over the past several months, Australian Baseball Alumni now regrets to inform our supporters that the Alumni project has neared the end of its shelf life and will effectively cease operations over coming weeks.


Established during 2014 as a not-for-profit initiative that was planned and delivered by Australian baseball lifers, the Alumni has consistently been able to honour its objectives of promoting the sport while engaging in activities to support our national teams and other dedicated projects.


From its inception, the Alumni raised substantial amounts of money in support of national baseball programmes while offering what we believe was a consistently high level of timely, engaging and insightful coverage of the sport.  


As Alumni editor - and on behalf of the thousands of people who have supported us over the years - I acknowledge the outstanding contribution made to this initiative by a committee of passionate baseball persons who shared a common belief in the worth of the Alumni project.


I refer especially to founding Chairman and Baseball Australia Hall-of-Famer Brett Ward and to current Baseball Australia High Performance General Manager Glenn Williams, both of whom expended so much of their valuable time and effort in establishing and nurturing the Alumni service.


I extend our collective thanks to Mark Marino, to Grant McDonald, Bill O’Sullivan and to Brett Pickett, all of whom served on the Alumni Committee of Management from the beginning.


The Alumni project has been supported by some high-profile baseball sponsors – who we wholeheartedly thank for their input. Of those - including Fielders’ Choice - the generous and sustained contribution of Jet Couriers was simply magnificent, and it is a great reflection on the commitment of that company to the betterment of Australian baseball.


We thank those persons who have contributed articles and features over the years, and who have assisted us in continuing to provide quality content for the interest of our supporters.


We thank the fine baseball people who saw fit to be patrons of the Alumni over the past several years – specifically former Major League players in Craig Shipley, David Nilsson, Graeme Lloyd and Mark Ettles - along with the generous individuals who provided us with the brilliant video and audio interviews with which we were privileged to be involved and which remain posted on our website.  


A sincere thank you to all of those people who took out Alumni memberships.


While we are aware that there were systemic problems over the past eighteen months in either renewing subscriptions or taking out new membership, we appreciate the effort that our supporters have made. We trust that you have enjoyed the service that we have sought to provide through our website, Facebook and associated social media.


Around the time that Australian Baseball Alumni was established, one prominent figure in Australian baseball rather optimistically asserted that we would attract a legion of members straight away. He projected “at least 10,000” - which unfortunately never eventuated. Hardly a fraction of that.


The fact is, from the start, that Australian Baseball Alumni was never fully embraced nor actively supported by many baseball governing bodies – from national through to some state and regional associations.


In saying that, I do not believe there was ever any organisational ill-feeling towards the Alumni project – it was more likely a lack of understanding, from the start, of what we were really about.


To its more recent credit, Baseball Australia – along with most of the state governing bodies – now clearly places far greater importance on its communications role, on timely baseball coverage and its engagement in social media platforms. May that commitment continue – and flourish.


The decision to curtail Alumni activities was brought about by three main considerations.


First, the decline in sponsorship and membership support meant that we were unable to any longer honour a primary commitment to provide funding for baseball programmes – especially under-aged national teams.


Secondly, our founding committee personnel are in virtually every instance people who have pressing commitments at the highest levels of the sport, rendering it difficult – impossible in some cases - for them to continue to dedicate substantial time and effort towards Alumni projects.


Thirdly, in demonstrating a far greater commitment to its media and communications role from elite programmes through to grassroots level, Baseball Australia has adopted a refreshing and long-overdue stance that sets an organisational benchmark for coverage of the sport. That enables us – as a voluntary body – to step back and take a collective breath while professional staff adopt the principal communications role that was neglected in Australian baseball for way too long.   


With expansion of the Australian Baseball League, possible inclusion in the Tokyo Olympics, greater engagement with Asia, potential establishment of a women’s national league and the provision of enormous ongoing opportunities for our young players through college opportunities, professional contracts and the restructure of under-aged programmes, this is an especially exciting time for Australian baseball.


As a bit player in the Alumni project, I remain proud of what we have been able to achieve over the past five years. It has been a pleasure to be involved with the Alumni and to enjoy the opportunity of meeting and engaging with like-minded baseball people, with renewing old acquaintances - or to otherwise cross paths with so many terrific individuals in the sport.


It has been an unqualified delight writing for the Alumni and telling the stories – often - of so many interesting, engaged and dedicated people across the spectrum of Australian baseball.


Australian Baseball Alumni website and Facebook will remain online into the foreseeable future, although neither is likely to be updated unless or until other persons take any measures – as they might see fit - to helping revitalise the project.


There remains a wealth of quality baseball material on the Alumni website, including interviews, coaching tips, umpiring insights and feature stories - along with masses of our own images and original news items. Australian baseball interests are invited to access any or all of that material and to freely utilise it in any such ways as deemed fit for the positive promotion and the betterment of Australian baseball at any level.


The Best of the Alumni (below) provides a snapshot of our work over the past five years. Left click on the image to read the story.


To Alumni members, sponsors, patrons, interviewees and supporters, thank you again for your contribution!


Kingsley Collins


September 2019

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