Motivated group links QLD baseball generations
21 November 2014
While Australian Baseball Alumni seeks to engage any and all members of the baseball community, its recent genesis runs parallel with a group of Queenslanders equally committed to nurturing connections and putting something back into a sport that has given plenty to many.
The Queensland Baseball Association Claxton Shield (QBACS) was established during September with its official launch to take place at a Brisbane Bandits versus Sydney Blue Sox game on 17 January, where it is hoped that scores of players from different eras will meet up.
“I had been thinking about a Queensland alumni for the past few years,” said Grant McDonald, the facilitator in QBACS creation and a current committeeman of Australian Baseball Alumni.
“Following up on the idea came from the MLB game in Sydney earlier this year. When Mark Marino organised a get-together for ABL and Claxton Shield players prior to the game, he told me that there was an idea circulating for an Australian alumni group.”
“I suggested a Queensland alumni group to link in with that once the broader group was up and running,” he said.
Formerly an outstanding player at the highest national levels, 41 year-old McDonald quickly discovered that there was enormous interest in the formation of such a group among his ABL associates from the Brisbane Bandits and Gold Coast Cougars days during the nineties, along with the many quality players who – like McDonald – had represented Queensland at Claxton Shield level, Baseball World Cups, Intercontinental Cups and Olympic Games.
Grant McDonald getting down and dirty against Korea
McDonald's service included the 2000 Sydney event, where he enhanced his standing as one of the country’s finest modern day players by hitting .304 and delivering the flawless outfield defence for which he had been renowned during a stellar career.
“I finished playing baseball after the Sydney Olympics,” said McDonald, who also spent a season playing in the United States, where the alumni concept is well entrenched in baseball culture.
“Although I have kept in touch with old mates, I have noticed there is a bit of a disconnect between players of the various generations representing their state. In starting up a Queensland alumni group we can more easily recall our history, record our history and hopefully build a legacy that links past players with their current-day counterparts.”
“We’re hoping to develop a relationship with the current Bandits players so that they know they have a home with QBACS,” he said. “That way, they can lean on the older guys for help – if they choose to – and they can help bring us all together to support our Queensland team in the ABL.”
“Our relationship with the Bandits is going well. The club has been very supportive in recognising past players with special pricing and seating at Bandits games. This sort of engagement – along with a range of other activities - is something that we would like to see right across the ABL.”
The QBACS alumni committee currently comprises McDonald, Kim Jessop, Tony Thompson, Matt Buckley and Phil Stockman. Like its broader national counterpart, the committee is reaching out to current and former players to become involved.
“Our group is made up of guys who have played for Queensland in the Claxton Shield or in any of the Queensland teams that played in the Australian Baseball League right back to the start,” McDonald said.
“The project is being received very well. We are building our database of players and we have a Facebook page (QBACS). Our page will communicate current and historical Queensland baseball information, alumni events, team profiles, player profiles and many other items.”
“We fully support the creation of the Australian Baseball Alumni group and their commitment to giving back to the sport through targeted fund-raising and the like,” he said. “We will be working with them to help promote the sport and to keep baseball people connected. I would definitely encourage the other states to set up their own alumni groups and align themselves – like we have – with the national group.”
“The QBACS launch on 17 January coincides with release of the Bandits twenty-fifth anniversary starting lineup on that night. The Bandits club will be running an online vote for each playing position on their Facebook page.”
“It should be great fun, and a great occasion for the Queenslanders already in our group or keen to join us," McDonald said.