Almanac Baseball: When Josh Came to Town

 

The arrival of digital TV in Australia allowed all the networks to create new channels that could specialise in certain areas.  Network 10 originally geared their Channel One as an all sport channel. Major League Baseball was one of the sports that came to the attention of many through that arrangement.

 

One morning in 2010, I flicked on the telly, and there before me was one of the world’s great rivalries. The Red Sox were playing the Yankees and I was immediately enthralled. I quickly decided this game was for me and that one of these teams would be my team. To the victor go the spoils, I contemplated. To this day I am so relieved the boys from Fenway won that game. Developing a visceral disdain for the Yankees has been a touchstone of my baseball life.

 

As I started to become familiar with the players, a raky kid caught my eye. He wasn’t one of the league leaders in stats, but he just had something about him that you knew he would pull off something special when you least expected it. That kid was Josh Reddick.

 

Twelve years later and Josh has retired from the majors, but is still plying his trade down under. He will play out this season of the Australian Baseball League and then move on to the next phase of his life. No doubt the Perth beaches played a part in his decision.

 

The Perth Heat came to Melbourne over the weekend for a four-game series against the Aces. Josh was subdued in his first series, so the expectations were high that he would put on a show at the best ballpark in the land.

 

Over the four games, he only got the two hits from 16 at-bats with two walks. One of those hits was a home run and, fortunately, it came on Sunday so I was in the stands to see it. The Saturday night game was delayed due to rain. That game was then completed on Sunday, but it meant an early start.

 

There weren’t many of us there to witness a former major leaguer sending a ball to the train tracks that run behind the ballpark. But then we’ve had the privilege of seeing Delmon Young do it on quite a few occasions in recent years as the Aces established themselves as the benchmark of local stick.

 

It was nice having Josh in town to remind us that the ABL can still attract big names. Although it does feel a little bit hollow at times, a bit like the A-League and their ‘marque players’.

 

Seeing an ex-Red Sox player in the flesh will be a lasting memory. It didn’t work out with Manny Ramirez a few years ago, but it did this time round. Who knows if it will ever happen again, so thanks Josh!

 

 

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About

Grew up playing the rugby codes in suburban Sydney. Moved to Melbourne during the Carey era so becoming a Shinboner was the natural call. Still love the game they play in heaven. Took an interest in MLB a few years back and have become infatuated with America's pastime.

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