Outlaws build a presence in New England
31 December 2015
Created just months ago, Armidale Outlaws are well on track to make a serious impact upon the baseball landscape in northern New South Wales – the former stomping ground of “gentleman bushranger” Captain Thunderbolt over 150 years ago.
After ten years without a team, Armidale is preparing to return to the Tamworth baseball competition – guns figuratively blazing - for its season running from April through to September.
The driving force behind the Outlaws project, former Victorian Mick Alldis is delighted with community response to formation of the new club, which already looms as a force to be reckoned with in the region.
Australian Baseball Alumni reported several months ago on plans to resurrect Armidale baseball, which was introduced to the city in the seventies and at one point boasted several teams playing on fields north of Dumaresq Creek.
A public meeting in July showed great enthusiasm for the establishment of a new club, encouraging Mick and his band of supporters to press ahead with their planning – including the creation of a club name and distinctive colours, along with meeting the spectrum of other challenges relating to a playing field, to sponsorship, to equipment, to uniforms and to promotion in the Armidale community.
A successful Come and Try Day held in conjunction with softball at the start of November provided further impetus to the Armidale Outlaws, who are planning on entering a hopefully competitive team in A Grade of the Tamworth League for the 2016 season.
“The team is coming together beautifully, thanks largely to the support of the Armidale community,” Mick Alldis told Australian Baseball Alumni this week.
“Community Mutual have sponsored us with a cash injection to assist in purchasing uniforms and caps, Hydralyte Sports are sending us sports drinks bottles and product for the new season – and Sportspower Armidale is helping us out with team discounts on a range of baseball gear.”
“The local Armidale community has always been a great supporter of sporting teams,” he said. “It's been really encouraging to hear all the positive feedback on baseball making a welcome return after an absence of a decade.”
“We are confident that the Armidale Sports Council will also support our endeavours and assist us in 2016.”
While equipment, uniforms and good will are vital components in the creation of any baseball club, there is of course a myriad of other requirements – including a ground and an administrative component. And – well - some players might come in handy too.
Himself a former top line baseballer in Victoria – and now a Masters regular – a buoyant Mick Alldis is confident that it is all coming together.
“We are a step closer to having our own baseball diamond situated in Armidale, which will give us the capacity for a home and away fixture within the Tamworth League,” Alldis said. “Negotiations are currently taking place with the University of New England to reinvigorate the seldom used Brian Seppelt playing field based within the University of New England campus.”
“A handful of volunteers are on hand ready to get the field 'game ready' by early April 2016 when the official Tamworth season begins.”
“The prospect of some home games is really appealing – and not only to the Outlaws playing group,” he said. “The Tamworth teams are equally as excited about having an away game to play on a different ground for a change - and the chance of a bonding road trip is always a tempting proposition!”
Playing numbers are a healthy thirteen to fifteen at the moment, a solid base from which to build the local club over years to come – especially given the quality of those already committed.
“Surprisingly over half the group have baseball experience, which was an x factor coming into the initial idea of fielding a team,” Alldis said. “This gives us a much better opportunity to teach the finer points of the game to our 'rookies' and it gives us a fighting chance in the A Grade competition which the team hopes to join.”
“A solid mix of youth and experience gives the team a pretty good balance and some young pitching and catching offers hope for the older brigade to keep on playing for a few more years yet.”
“Players like Brad Smith, Cameron Beat and Josh Shaw have all tasted representative baseball in New South Wales and Queensland,” he said. “The more experienced Dale Smith, Jeremy Bird and I will likely slot in when needed. A handful of University of New England students will add some enthusiasm and speed to the team, as well as a few young guys returning to Tamworth and looking for a fresh start with a new team.”
With striking colours and a club logo loosely connected with a name that has great historical resonance in the region, the Armidale Outlaws have created a unique identity that already has the broader Australian baseball community taking notice.
“You won’t be able to miss seeing this team - which will be decked out in the Baltimore Oriole colours of orange, black and white,” Mick Alldis said. “The caps have been running off the shelf and we have already sold them into Geelong, Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide. The uniform tops won’t disappoint either – so we will at least look the part when we take the field in April.”
As preparations are ramped up for their debut season, the Outlaws have enlisted some high-profile assistance in helping promote and teach the game in the Armidale area. For Sunday 17 January (10.00 AM – 12.00 PM), the new club will be graced by Australian baseball royalty in the persons of Australian Baseball Hall-of-Famer Kevin Crazy Cantwell and Queensland legend Peter Dutton – both of whom will be on hand to deliver a coaching masterclass to all of those interested in bettering their baseball skills.
“We are rapt to have Crazy and Peter joining us on the day,” Alldis said. “Through their connection with the MLB Academy we are very grateful for the donation of some gear – but most importantly we are moved by their dedication to the sport in committing to a twelve hour round trip to help promote our great game in Armidale.”
“We will confirm the venue on our Facebook page in early January. There will be a barbecue lunch and drinks to follow. Players from Tamworth are most welcome to come up and join us for the day.”
“And speaking of Facebook, I think it is pretty funny that we have 180 likes on our page and haven’t played a game yet! It puts the pressure on a little, so I hope we put up a good show when we get out there eventually,” he said.
“We have a practice round robin weekend in late February – that should be an interesting start to work out where we are at.”
Creation of any new baseball club is cause for celebration in the sport. Australian Baseball Alumni commends the Outlaws on bringing baseball back to the lovely university city of Armidale. We wish the club all the very best in its endeavours and we are tipping that the inaugural Outlaws team just may hit Tamworth Baseball League “like a thunderbolt”.
Sneak preview of Outlaw uniforms
Projected Field of Outlaw Dreams