ABL: An Interview With Brett Marshall – Part 4

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

in Australia.

 

Image: Ryan Schembri/SMP

Image: Ryan Schembri/SMP

 

You can read Part 3 of this interview on this link

 

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

option?

 

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

mentality?

 

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

 

 

 

 

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