Sporting history was made on Sunday when Nelson’s first baseball game was played on the region’s new baseball diamond at Champion Green at Saxton Field.
The code has been introduced to the region by a group of four parents who have come in under the Baseball NZ banner and set up a baseball association.
One of those driving the venture is the region’s softball legend, Black Sox Hall of Fame pitcher Marty Grant, who has been passing on his knowledge to young ball players.
In its inaugural game, Nelson Orange and Nelson Black squared off, with Black prevailing 4-3 with Matt Lowe and Moab Heynekamp taking the mounds for each team. Nelson Black’s Reegan Lawton entered the history books hitting a home run to centre field as the opening batter.
Marty, who is the association’s coaching officer, says the ability amongst the players was high level, especially in the batter’s box.
Taylor Matthews, Ewan Mullett and Levi Chase all stood out at the plate.
In the field, Karlos Chase took the mound for team Orange in the second innings and chalked up his first strike out, while Nelson Black’s Laingdon Blacklock’s speed in the outfield took outs in the infield.
More than 60 million people play baseball worldwide, and it is now gaining momentum here, with Nelson the sixth region to take up the sport, says Nelson Baseball president Tom Kroos.
“We started out as a small group of people with kids who wanted to play baseball, and that was our incentive to set up something in Nelson,” Tom says.
“The response we’ve received has been amazing, not only from kids who want to play, but from companies eager to provide sponsorship and former players who want to coach and assist.”