Category Archives: Australian Baseball

Australia Baseball League Returns This Winter

This post first appeared on BaseballDigest.com

During the 2009-2010 off-season, BaseballDigest.com featured several articles covering the 76th annual Claxton Shield. Though not officially recognized as the Australian Baseball League, last seasons Claxton Shield featured several promising young stars. Turns out, last season was just a taste of what was to come. Today Major League Baseball announced that the 2010-2011 season will be the first official ABL season since its disbanding in 1999.

From the MLB press release:

“Major League Baseball is very excited about the opportunity to join the Australian Baseball Federation in bringing professional baseball back to Australia,” MLB senior vice president of international business operations Paul Archey said in a statement. “With the level of talent originating Down Under, it is only natural that a national baseball league returns, both for the players and for the fans.” Click here for the rest of the press release.

During last season’s Claxton Shield, games starting at 5PM in Adelaide, Australia on a Friday evening were watched by fans on the east coast of the United States at roughly 3:30AM on Friday morning. The live internet feeds during the championship series regularly had dozens if not hundreds of viewers from all around the world. A renewed interest from MLB may mean there is even more coverage for baseball down under.

Some of the six teams that will make up the league have already set up websites to spread the word of the new ABL season.

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South Australia Walk Away With A Win

This post first appeared on BaseballDigest.com

Before the semi-finals of the Claxton Shield between South Australia and New South Wales began, the two teams had split their head-to-head matchups with three wins apiece. Four of the six games were decided by three runs or less. The trend continued in the playoffs, as game 1 of the semi-finals featured a pitching duel between Tim Cox and Paul Mildren for seven innings before the NSW Patriots squeaked across a single run that proved to be the game winner. I recapped game 1, which you can read by clicking here. Game 2 had another pitching duel between , for the first four innings anyway, and included a bases-loaded walk that proved to be the difference maker. You can read the full recap of the game by clicking here.

Much like the first game, game 2 featured a number of players with some minor league experience. For example, the starter for New South Wales, Wayne Lundgren, began his professional baseball career with the Boston Red Sox. He played among future every day MLB players like Manny Delcarmen and Jonathan Papelbon as a member of their minor league teams between 2001-2003 teams. He bounced around St. Louis and Cincinnati’s organizations for several seasons before last being seen playing with the Brockton Rox in 2008. Another player is the closer for South Australia, Hayden Beard, who closed out the game 2 win. He was last seen in the minor leagues as a member of the rookie ball St. Lucie Mets.

The semi-finals have so far included some players who last played in college, like South Australia’s Scott Gladstone who led the University of Tennessee-Martin with a .420 average. There are also players in the tournament who are currently on the rise. New South Wales’ roster includes Mitch Dening, a prospect within the Red Sox organization, who had two hits in game 2.

With the semi-finals between South Australia and New South Wales coming to a head tomorrow, it will be interesting to see which players rise to the occasion and push their team to the championship series where they will face the Victoria Aces. Game 3 takes place on Sunday at 3:30AM Eastern Standard Time, which is 7PM in Adelaide, Australia. You can catch live coverage via South Australia’s live feed(click here).

Claxton Shield: New South Wales Rises Above South Australia

This post first appeared on BaseballDigest.com

As I posted earlier this week, the Claxton Shield tournament championship semi-finals kicked off today in Adelaide, Australia.


Despite living in an era of HD TV, multiple camera angles and even replay, a single camera via an online web feed was the only way viewers outside of Australia were able to watch the beginning of the Claxton Shield semi-finals. The 3:30AM EST start for most games may also be to blame for a general lack of interest from baseball fans in the United States. Though the Claxton Shield is flying under the radar, there is great baseball being played down under.


The South Australian baseball team hosted the New South Wales Patriots at Norwood Oval for game 1 of a 3 game set to determine who will go on to face the Victoria Aces in the championship finals. As the teams faced off with identical 14-10 season records, it’s not a surprise that game 1 featured a pitching duel. For the South Australians, Pittsburgh Pirates minor leaguer Paul Mildren took to the mound opposite former Boston Red Sox minor leaguer Tim Cox for New South Wales. The two lefties battled for much of the game, neither allowing a run going into the 7th inning. The Patriots got to Mildren in the 7th when Tim Auty knocked in Pat Maat with an RBI double.


Like Cox and Mildren, Auty and Maat are also players who have put time in with Major League Baseball affiliates. In fact, many players that comprise the teams of the Claxton Shield have at some point played with major league organizations. In game 1 alone, there were at least 8 MLB teams represented by players who played(or currently play) for a team within their organization. The hottest hitter of the tournament, Michael Collins, received an invite to the San Diego Padres Spring Training camp.


The 7th inning RBI by Tim Auty proved to be the only run of the entire game. The only real threat by the South Australians came in the bottom of the 8th with David Washington on first and Jeremy Cresswell at the plate. Cresswell hit a double into shallow center, and Washington slipped rounding second base on his way to third. Washington is known for his speed, and potentially could have made the turn for home if he hadn’t slipped. They were unable to build on having two men in scoring position, as Tim Cox shut out the home team for 8 innings before giving way to Lee Ingram to close out the 9th inning and give the Patriots a 1-0 victory.


The two teams face off again tomorrow morning(or night, if you’re in Australia), with the first pitch around 3:30AM. The South Australian baseball team website is providing the online stream for fans. You can find that stream by clicking here.

Claxton Shield: Baseball Down Under

This post first appeared on BaseballDigest.com

With the Super Bowl and the Caribbean World Series more than a week away, it’s easy to believe that there is currently a lull in championship competition for sports fans to watch. This couldn’t be further from the truth. On Friday, the first round of the Claxton Shield will get underway when the South Australia baseball club faces off against the New South Wales Patriots. The winner of the three game playoff will go on to face the first place finisher, the Victoria Aces. Each of these teams have players on their rosters that have worn the uniforms of minor league teams throughout the MLB and independent minor league systems.

The Claxton Shield is a long running baseball tournament in Australia featuring many young talented ballplayers that have played in minor league parks throughout the United States. While the format and the teams of the Claxton Shield have changed since the tourney started in 1934, the level of competition has remained strong throughout the years. The exception of this being during a ten year hiatus when the Claxton Shield was awarded to the winner of the Australian Baseball League from 1989-1999.

This years tournament was its longest, with 5 teams playing 24 games over 10 rounds. The top three teams meet in the playoffs, with the top team having a bye in the first round. There are plans for expansion to 6 teams next season, thus eliminating the bye week. The development and success of the Claxton Shield will be vital in reestablishing a baseball league in Australia.

The 5 teams that make up the Claxton Shield include many players who have had various success within the minor league system of Major League Baseball. One of the leading hitters in the tournament is Mike Collins, a longtime minor leaguer in the Anaheim Angels and San Diego Padres systems. In each of the last two Claxton Shield tournaments, Collins has dominated with his bat. Similarly, one of the leading pitchers in the tournament spent a few years toiling in the Boston Red Sox minor league system. Though he ‘retired’ from the Boston Red Sox Class A affiliate Lancaster JetHawks in 2007, Tim Cox led this years tournament with 46 strikeouts while sporting a 2.38 ERA. A quick glance at the rosters of all participating teams reveals a long list of players with similar career trajectories of Mike Collins and Tim Cox. With the expected expansion of the tournament and MLB’s involvement, more future prospects may end up playing ball Down Under.

You can attend the championship tournament for just $20 for admission to all three games of the opening round. If you’re not already in Australia, the cost to attend the tourney might rise exponentially due to the airfare! The Claxton Shield championship will not be available on US television, but you can find the results and box scores for all the action on the Claxton Shield website. Click Here for the link.

Due to the time differences between the United States and Australia, it’s worth noting that Game 1 of the semi-finals between South Australia and New South Wales scheduled for 6:35PM on Friday, January 29th in Adelaide, Australia. That means the game takes place 3:00 AM, Eastern Standard Time! Similarly, Game 1 of the finals between the winner of the SA/NSW series will face the Victoria Aces on February 5th at 7:05 PM in Melbourne, Australia or at 3:05 AM, Eastern Standard Time.