These are momentous times for Australian baseball, with club competition commencing on Saturday 2 October and a new national league scheduled to start in November of this year......
For Baseball Victoria – the origins of which date back to the late nineteenth century - it shapes as another huge domestic season that will run parallel to the fledgling league. How the new league impacts upon club baseball remains to be seen, although raising of the profile of the sport and presenting potential role models for developing players will almost certainly work as positive forces over time.
Re-branded as “Summer League” - and comprising mainstream men’s, women’s, junior and Masters competitions – Baseball Victoria’s flagship competition will take on a somewhat different appearance for the first pitch on Saturday 2 October.
Under the second year of a competition restructure, Fitzroy and Werribee have been promoted to the twelve-team Division One men’s competition, while Bonbeach and Sunshine go back to a fourteen-team Division Two competition.
Division One will play thirty-three games in its regular season and Division Two twenty-six. Both divisions will play best-of-three finals series that were a remarkable success last season.
Pitching restrictions on imported players for Divisions One and Two have been lifted. While only time will determine the effect of this change, it is expected to give some clubs a competitive edge and may have an ongoing benefit where imports are prepared to impart knowledge and to immerse themselves in club developmental programmes.
Men’s mainstream baseball continues to thrive. Cheltenham will field a staggering ten teams across all senior men’s grades, Waverley eight, St Kilda eight and Blackburn six. Monash University is welcomed into Summer League and will start in Division Four.
While team numbers are marginally down on last season, Women’s League will again offer three divisions of competition.
Masters baseball continues its surge in popularity, with twenty-five teams playing in three divisions of the Monday and Tuesday night competition.
It has been a busy off-season for Baseball Victoria and one of the radical initiatives has been a restructure of junior competitions. State League has been replaced and will be known as Major League. The metro zones have been disbanded and are replaced with a Minor League system using the playing designations of AAA, AA and A.
Clubs have been fully informed of the structural changes that should deliver greater equity and closer games in all junior leagues.
Whatever the level of participation, Baseball Victoria wishes all players the very best for a challenging and rewarding Summer League experience.
Speaking of challenges, we have done our best in presenting a Season Preview that may or may not provide a definitive guide to the prospects of clubs playing at senior level, especially with player lists still being finalised and some imports yet to arrive in town,
Thank you to the clubs and the individuals who have been generous with their time and their sharing of information. If you have club news, story ideas, information or images that you would like to share with the Victorian baseball community, please email email@example.com
or telephone 0488 735297