You can see from the photo that Karl was quite excited about this. Karl and a friend went to a baseball game last night which was the first of a 3 game series that determines the champion of the highest level of competition in organised baseball in Australia -The Claxton Shield Grand Final. The Perth Heat are playing the New South Wales (Sydney) Patriots. Perth finished the regular season at the top of the ladder and is hosting the series this weekend. About 2,000-3,000 people will be attending each game. All 3 of the boys and I will be going to tonight's game 2.
Karl got the autograph of Luke Hughes after the game last night (Perth lost 5-3). Luke is on the current Minnesota Twins 40-man major league roster and is hoping to have a shot at the third base position in spring training this year. Luke is a Perth native who attended the Western Australia Institute of Sports which has produced 26 major and minor league baseball players in the last 10 years. (Unfortunately, WAIS is dropping its support of baseball since it's no longer an Olympic sport.) He was drafted by the Twins in 2002 and has since been playing up through their farm system. Luke reached AAA level last year having a sort of break-out season in Rochester. In November and December he had a very good winter season playing in the Venezuelan League. He joined in on the Claxton Shield season down here just at the beginning of January playing for our Perth team. The West Australian newspaper ran a story on Luke this past December.
Luke is a good friend of one of our staff members at the college, Patrick Moore, who himself played minor league baseball in the Tampa organisation for several years. Patrick has been looking for a chance to introduce us to Luke, but Karl found his own way last night.
The game 1 starting pitcher for Perth last night was another player from the Twins' system - Liam Hendricks.
One of the Perth coaches is Graeme Lloyd, former two-time World Series pitcher for the New York Yankees.
Australia is gearing up for their entry in the World Baseball Classic which starts in March. The Twins have been very active in scouting Australia as the Australian entry in the WBC includes 7 players currently playing in the Twins system - including Luke Hughes.
Just a note about Australian baseball vocabulary that you may have detected in my writing. League schedules (of course, pronounced "shedules") and tournaments are called "competitions" or "comps" for short. A "shield" is the large plaque or trophy that is awarded to the winners of a competition. In our college office, there are a number of shields hung on the wall that are annually awarded for various sports comps - with metal plates added each year for winners. They don't call the list of team records in a comp a "standings" here, but rather a "ladder". (Perth Heat finished at the top of the ladder.) The championship game of almost every sport in Australia at every level down to the youngest kids is called "The Grand Final". Coming from a cricket-playing culture, they often say "innings" for the singular "inning" in baseball (as in, "The blokes played a great innings in the 3rd."). Rather than calling "Balls in" when the warm-up tosses are complete before an inning begins, coaches call "Balls out". After the final out of a game, the umpire declares "Time of Game", which is the sign to me, the scorekeeper, to finish the book with "Time of Game" written across it and noting the current time. And sometime I can write on and on about the ridiculous scoring method used at all levels of Australian baseball that makes keeping the scorebook an incredibly complicated task.