Fiasco Sports spoke with Assistant General Manager of the Adelaide Bite, Brett
Marshall about himself, his outlook on the upcoming ABL season and the state of baseball
The ABL has seen some talent over the years such as Vernon Wells in 1999 and Kevin
Millwood in 1997, with US prospects such as Didi Gregorious, Brandon Maurer and
Brandon Barnes having played a season in Australia. Is it a goal to bring over players to
help expand the league and for players internationally to look at playing here as a viable
Absolutely, I mean that’s number one, our players are our biggest selling point. I mean, I
can’t be out there on the field selling the game, they’re the ones out there every day, day in,
day out putting the effort in on the field.
This year we have prospects from the LA Dodgers which is huge, and obviously I’m sure
we’ll talk about it later but with the MLB Opening Series in March. That correlation from
getting the best talent here and to see our players go back to the States and see that
success and translate into making the big leagues. Having the well-known coverage on
ESPN, and having ESPN talk about our players making it to the big leagues and have them
say “Oh, he played in Australia”, Didi Gregorious, Brandon Barnes, obviously these are
pretty well known names amongst the baseball supporters and community and people
know them and like them.
Seeing that talent come here, it’s only going to help the league and help the ABL grow and
I think MLB, obviously is seeing that and that’s why you’re seeing more and more baseball
clubs who haven’t sent players over in the past. For instance, this is the first time the
Dodgers have sent players over to play in the ABL, they’re sending five. So to go from zero
to five in one year, that’s obviously saying something.
That just shows there are those people that will support us and that really love the game of
baseball, or that there will be people who have never been to a game and just want to
check it out and see the league grow.
Baseball has been around in Australia since the 1850’s, with Australian Rules Football
dating back to 1859. Why do you think there was this shift where the AFL took prominence
and baseball is only now starting again to gain traction?
I think obviously when the ABL was around from 89-99; there was then a ten year gap
where the ABL was basically non-existent. Back in the day, the Adelaide Giants would get
10,000+ people on a Wednesday night, which is absolutely massive.
But obviously with the (Adelaide) Crows coming in during the 90’s, that was right around
when baseball and the original ABL disintegrated. It was privately funded by local owners,
so now it has more traction with Major League Baseball having a financial stake in the
league. We’re seeing it stick a little more, so I think maybe when that league went away,
with AFL clubs coming into Adelaide especially, that was the shift in popularity.
With the coverage we’re getting now through media with us in the last couple of days,
being on Channel 7, Channel 9 and Fox, our imports coming in, that’s huge. I mean any
exposure for us, we’re glad to have it.
I think you’ll slowly see a shift and hopefully we might be able to turn some AFL fans or
even cricket fans due to the similarities with Twenty20 matches, with the sixes in cricket
and home runs in baseball. Everybody loves those big hitters, good defence and tightly
contested matches. Hopefully we can turn some of them into ABL fans.
Here in Adelaide, the baseball community is a very tight knit group, do you believe that the
relative popularity compared to other sports has helped accentuate this inclusive
Exactly, I mean the clubs are pretty much the backbone to our feeder system; we do have
a few guys on last year’s roster and this year’s that have been training with local clubs. I
was just out at one of our first scrimmage matches against Goodwood last Saturday and
players from Goodwood, Woodville, Southern Districts, Golden Grove, were out there.
I mean we’ve got a lot of players with a lot of talent training with us, you’re seeing a lot of
local people getting behind those players and really want them to take their talent to the
next level, and they’re looking at it as where they can have this pride, saying “Look, this guy
is from our club and he’s playing for the Bite”, for almost the state team, we are the South
Australian state team within the ABL.
So, I think for them it’s only going to help increase their numbers. I mean for these clubs to
succeed financially and take their talent on its like that funnel system, the more players you
have, the more chance you have to build up high quality players. They’re hopefully going to
see the effects of it with more and more players and people wanting to get involved at the
club level. They also obviously are the biggest advocates of us, we want to see more and
more of these kids that are playing at the club and grass roots level out at ABL games and
obviously they’re playing it, why not enjoy it in their downtime?
Written by Fraser Fyfe