The Right Choice
27 November 2014
While securing and maintaining corporate sponsorship is a tough gig for any sport, it is even more so for Australian baseball – a largely amateur conveyance that continues to strive for a foothold in an overcrowded sports market.
Nevertheless, despite – or perhaps because of – its limited relative size, Australian baseball has been fortunate to have enjoyed the patronage and the support of business interests who can see its enormous potential and who are keen to help out.
Fielders Choice is one such business interest. With a long-standing connection to Australian baseball, the company has added Australian Baseball Alumni to a burgeoning list of clubs and organisations to which it continues to extend highly-valued patronage.
Appropriately named, Fielders Choice has a clear connection with baseball and softball through the retail provision of sports equipment.
Based in Perth - near Belmont, the home of the old Parry Field - Fielders Choice has grown into being Australia’s largest supplier of baseball, softball and T-Ball equipment, with interstate branches in Mount Waverley, Melbourne, and another in Queensland.
Fielders Choice offers the total range of personal and team equipment - bats, balls, gloves, bases, tees, pitching machines and apparel that includes shoes, hats, pants and uniforms, with special deals for baseball clubs open for negotiation.
The Perth shop is staffed by Perth Heat and Western Flames (softball) players. They are managed by Dean White - Australian representative, ex Atlanta Braves Farm hand and now Australian National Women’s Baseball Team Assistant Coach. His second in charge is Leigh Godfrey - who is a current Australian Women’s Team representative for both baseball and softball.
Offering secure transaction options, Fielders Choice will deliver anywhere in Australia, by express or standard transport. However, Fielders Choice still loves to offer personal service and will encourage you to come visit them and talk baseball. While you’re there, the staff will make sure you get sized up correctly and get exactly what you need. If you can’t get into the shop, they have an excellent website at www.fielders.net.
Company owner and Managing Director Geoff Hooker has been actively involved at all levels of Australian baseball over many years. He was a former Managing Director of Baseball WA where - among other projects - he rebirthed the Perth Heat in 2005, well in advance of its entry to the current ABL. Geoff is currently Board Chairman of Perth Heat, the enormously successful franchise that has won three of the four championships in the revived Australian Baseball League – and five of the last seven National Championships, dating back to its Baseball WA origin.
Geoff Hooker was led into baseball administration by a crisis at Baseball WA during 2004. Plummeting membership and a fragmented diamond sports community brought together a small group that resolved to turn the game around in Western Australia.
Dave Hayes (now the leader of Little League WA) and Shane Tonkin were responsible for recruiting Geoff into the new administration.
A long-term sponsor of Western Australian baseball, Fielders Choice generously supports Perth Heat in the Australian Baseball League, it has been a positive promoter of the women’s national programme and it took a lead role in the delivery of activities run in conjunction with the Major League extravaganza in Sydney earlier this year.
A family business, Fielders Choice has been a part of the Australian baseball landscape for two decades.
Elder statesman and father Barry is a founder of the shop from back in 1994. Brother Kevin has worked in the business on occasions over the years between stints as a professional player with the Philadelphia Phillies and his MLB Scouting assignments with the Phillies and Detroit Tigers.
Geoff and Kevin both played College Baseball in Oregon, USA. Kevin graduated from Oregon State (1995), Geoff from Lewis and Clark College (1993).
Both were led to college ball by WA baseball great Mickey Riley after impressive junior careers at the Wanneroo Baseball Club.
Both played teeball at Wanneroo – believed to be, at the time, the world’s largest teeball club.
“We had some great American imports who set up homes in Australia in the 1980s,” Geoff Hooker told Australian Baseball Alumni.
“They were charismatic and inspirational characters who drew us into the college baseball world and helped us achieve our dreams. Mickey Riley, Scott Steed, Ken McGee, Dave Rusin, Tom Moore and Mike Bates all had a direct impact on us and many other Perth-based juniors,” he said.
“I’m convinced the work they did - years in advance - was a key to the success of the 1990s Perth Heat in the earlier Australian Baseball League.”
“We were lucky to have lived though a charmed time in WA baseball,” Geoff Hooker added. “A lot of what we do today is trying to reproduce those conditions for the kids of today. Steve Fish and his programs are going a long way to achieving just that.”
Aside from the well-earned success of Perth Heat and the reinvigoration of baseball in the west, Geoff Hooker holds great hope for the future of Australian baseball, from grassroots through to the ABL and international level.
“It’s a tremendously exciting time in Australian Baseball,” he said. “A lot of hard work has been done to get us to this point. Today’s administrators and coaches should feel real pressure to take advantage of the situation. It’s time to go to the next level.”
Managed by persons with collective vision, immense enthusiasm and a long-standing involvement in our great game, Fielders Choice is at the forefront of its retail field. Fortunately for us, it jumped at the opportunity to assist Australian Baseball Alumni with the generous provision of equipment vouchers to be redeemed by alumni members.
We look forward to a long and productive association with Fielders Choice and we encourage our members to provide reciprocal support to the company, a great Australian success story.