Drawn together - though baseball worlds apart
13 June 2017
Not surprisingly, there has been an enthused response to the outstanding article written by former Major Leaguer Brad Harman on the trials and tribulations experienced by players negotiating the tortuous journey of Minor League baseball.
Of the positive feedback that has been generated, Australian Baseball Alumni received one particular email from United States that attracted our attention.
Describing himself as “forever an Australian/American baseball player”, New York resident Robert Dick happens to share unique bonds with Brad Harman, with iconic Phillies pitcher Jamie Moyer and with secondary schools baseball in Australia.
Assigned to Home Hill Senior High School in the Burdekin – about an hour south of Townsville - Robert S. Dick was a Rotary exchange student from the United States to Australia in 1982.
Already a blossoming young baseball player, his talent was recognised by local and state authorities, leading to his ultimate selection in the 1982 Queensland high school baseball team that faced New South Wales in a best-of-five championship series at Oriole Stadium in Sydney.
Although the interstate school baseball series were - through the 1970s and 1980s - played principally between New South Wales and Queensland, they were prestigious events that drew sporadic representation from Victoria and South Australia prior to School Sport Australia going genuinely national in 1989.
New South Wales won the 1982 series three games to two, with victories in Games One, Three and Five.
“I recall that we played for a trophy called the Robinson Shield,” Robert Dick told Australian Baseball Alumni this week. “We won Games Two and Four – the second of which was the only game under lights at Oriole Stadium. I remember that one in particular because I had thirteen strikeouts as a left-armed pitcher.”
Pitching in Games One and Four, Dick earned Man of the Match medals for both outings, a feat recognised at the time by a Sydney suburban newspaper that generously credited him with a further three honours.
Laudable as those achievements surely were, they are but the first chapter in this story.
After his exchange term expired, Robert Dick returned to America to take up a college appointment that saw him suit up for NCAA Division One baseball at Saint Joseph’s University in the Atlantic Ten Conference playing in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
“Among other very good players in that programme at the time, I was fortunate to play with Jamie Moyer, who had a Major League career over twenty-six seasons, from 1986 to 2012,” Robert Dick said. “He remains the oldest person to win a MLB game in May of 2012 – at 49 years and 150 days of age.”
“Both of us were left-handed pitchers, so we trained together back then. He had an excellent work ethic.”
“To think Jamie was twenty years old then - in 1983 - and went on to a career that had him still pitching in Major League Baseball at 49! Astounding.”
“Jamie Moyer invented the Circle Change,” Dick said. “A devastating pitch that moved like a screwball to the left three to six inches. The curveball moves six to nine inches to the right for a left-handed pitcher.”
“He was a very patient pitcher even back in college, and of course he won the World Series with the 2008 Philadelphia Phillies – home team for both of us in our childhood.”
“He played in Seattle with Ken Griffey Junior and the Mariners and he is a Hall-of-Famer,” he continued. “To have been on the same team and trained with him was an honour.”
Reading the inspiring article that Brad Harman wrote about life as a Minor League baseball player stirred a range of memories with Robert Dick that prompted him to contact us, given that Harman had also distinguished himself in Australian school baseball – under the new national regime – and of course had himself played Major League Baseball with Philadelphia Phillies.
“That is a nice article by Brad Harman, and I feel a real connection with him, given that we were both teammates with Jamie Moyer in Philadelphia – twenty five years apart,” he said. "One of us in college ball, and the other in the majors."
“Jamie and I played together for two years before Brad was even born. Jamie was 45 and Brad was 22 when they played together in 2008.”
“I am sure Brad has some Jamie Moyer stories. I know I have a few.”
Now residing in New York City, Robert Dick attends over 100 games a year on the East Coast of United States, including NCA Division 1, 2 and 3 levels, along with professional baseball games from Major League through AAA, AA and A levels. Holding fond memories of his time Down Under as a young man all those years ago, he has an abiding interest in Australian baseball development.
“I will always remain involved with the game,” he said. “On 14 May I was fortunate to attend the retirement ceremony of Derek Jeter at Yankee Stadium – a doubleheader versus the Houston Astros. The Baseball Hall of Fame is only a three-hour car ride from where I am easy. Easy to get to Cooperstown, New York.”
“Also in Cooperstown is Abner Doubleday Field – the site of the first baseball game. There are many games still played there every year,” he said.
“Reading the article by Brad Harman just brought back so many memories about my time in Australia, about the Moyer connection spanning a generation - and about how fortunate I have been to have had baseball as such a big part of my life.”
Robert Dick cordially invites feedback or questions on university baseball, or on getting tickets for games. Keen to help out Australian baseball in any manner that he is able, Robert has agreed to allow us to pass on his contact details to any person with a genuine interest in sharing his knowledge and his experiences.
“I still treasure my time in Australia all those years ago,” he said. “I will forever be an Australian/American baseball player.”
Australian Baseball Alumni extends its appreciation to Robert Dick for contacting us with this fascinating story detailing his unique connection with Australian baseball and with Major League teammates from different generations.
Jamie Moyer in his heyday for the Phillies