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Victorian Baseball's Historical Timeline

19th Century

1857 Americans play first baseball game in Australia at Exhibition Gardens in Melbourne.

1867 Pickup baseball game in Melbourne before Aussie Rules match.

1879 St Kilda Baseball Club established  to play 'Georgia Minstrels' tour of Melbourne.

1888 American sporting entrepreneur, Albert G. Spalding, organises a baseball tour of Australia. Baseball gains notoriety in Australia and cricketers take it up for keeping fit in the winter. Harry Simpson of New Jersey stays behind as Spalding representative to promote baseball in Melbourne and then later in Sydney.

1889 First intercolonial championship between Victoria and South Australia at East Melbourne Cricket Ground, won by SA, 2 matches to 1.

1890 The Victorian Baseball League (VBL) was established by J.C. Williamson, Harry Rickards, Harry Musgrove, J.S. Milford and Major Ben Wardill (the longtime secretary of the Melbourne Cricket Club). J. C. Williamson was the first President. The teams in the inaugural season of the Victorian Baseball League were Fitzroy, Carlton, Ferguson & Mitchell, Geelong, Kew, M.C.C., Melbourne (to be renamed Metropolitans), Richmond, Richmond C.C., the “Age” and Victoria.

1898 First major baseball competitions in Australia, including the intercolonial game between Victoria and South Australia at East Melbourne Cricket Ground, won by SA.

20th Century

1914 First Australian carnival in Sydney including Victoria, South Australia and New South Wales. The carnival was won by NSW.

1915 The Victorian Baseball Union (VBU) is established.

1920 The Victorian Baseball Council (VBC) is established.

1922 The Victorian Baseball Association (VBA) is established.

1925 The VBA is relaunched as the unified peak body for baseball in Victoria, joining the VBL, VBU, VBC and the old VBA.

1934 The first Claxton Shield was played, which was won by SA.

1938 The Victorian Provincial Baseball League (VPBL) is inaugurated to serve and support the regionally based associations in Victoria.

1947 Victoria wins its first Claxton Shield.

1948 Victoria wins the Claxton Shield.

1949 Victoria wins the Claxton Shield.

1954 Victoria wins the Claxton Shield.

1956 Victoria wins the Claxton Shield.

1958 Victoria wins the Claxton Shield.

1962 Victoria wins the Claxton Shield.

1965 Victoria wins the Claxton Shield. Graeme Deany wins the Helms Awards for the best player in the Claxton Shield tournament.

1968 Victoria wins the Claxton Shield. John Swanson wins the Helms Award.

1971 Ron McIvor wins the Helms Awards.

1972 Victoria wins the Claxton Shield.

1973 Victoria wins the Claxton Shield.

1974 Victoria wins the Claxton Shield. Neil Buszard wins the Helms Award.

1977 Ron Owen wins the Helms Awards.

1979 Brian Wonnacott wins the Helms Award.

1981 Victoria wins the Claxton Shield. John Hodges wins the Helms Award.

1984 Victoria wins the Claxton Shield. Brett Ward wins the Helms Award.

1986 Victoria wins the Claxton Shield. Lindsay Orford wins the Helms Award.

1987 Crown land on Merton Street in Altona Meadows was selected as the site for construction of the new State Baseball Softball Centre.

1989 Construction of the new State Baseball Softball Centre was completed, costing $3.9m. The Australian Baseball League replaces the Claxton Shield as Australia's premier national baseball competition. Victoria is represented by the Melbourne Monarchs (owned by the VBA) and the Waverley Reds (owned by the Waverley Baseball Club). Both teams play off in the inaugural finals series, which was won by the Waverley Reds, 2 games to 1.

1990 The State Baseball Softball Centre is officially opened on 26th January. A game between the Australian Senior Team and a touring Japanese Industrial League team was played to mark the occasion. The Melbourne Bushrangers (owned by the Greenhills/Montmorency Baseball Club) joins the ABL at the expense of the Melbourne Monarchs.

1992 The Melbourne Monarchs is reinstated into the ABL under the ownership of the Footscray Football Club. The Melbourne Monarchs win their first championship.

1993 Graeme Lloyd debuts in the Major Leagues for the Milwaukee Brewers on the 11th April.

21st Century

2002 The Claxton Shield is reinstated as Australia's premier national baseball competition. Victoria wins the championship at the State Baseball Centre, Altona.

2003 Micheal Nakamura debuts in the Major Leagues for the Minnesota Twins on the 7th June.

2004 Travis Blackley debuts in the Major Leagues for the Seattle Mariners on the 1st July.

2005 Justin Huber debuts in the Major Leagues for the Kansas City Royals on the 21st June.

2006 Peter Moylan debuts in the Major Leagues for the Atlanta Braves on the 12th April.

2007 Talks commenced to unify the VBA and VPBL. Brad Harman debuts in the Major Leagues for the Philadelphia Phillies on the 22nd April.

2008 Baseball Victoria Incorporated was created as a result of the unification of the VBA and the VPBL. Victoria wins the Claxton Shield, the Under 16 and Under 14 National Youth Championships as well as the Invitational Under 23 Tournament.

2010 Baseball Victoria launch the 'Summer League' brand for the traditional VBA competition and the Kangaroos Touring Teams for the Under 12 and Under 14 age groups. The Australian Baseball League (mark II) is also launched, featuring six teams from Perth, Adelaide, Canberra, Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne. The Melbourne Aces are also officially launched and announce the Melbourne Showgrounds as the venue from which they will play their home games.

2011 Major studies into participation and baseball facilities development were launched, with completion in 2012. Waverley won the Summer League Division 1 Premiership and Springvale the Women's Division 1 title. Dandenong won the Division 1 Senior State Winter Championship and Sunraysia the Division 2 title. The Melbourne Aces ended the inaugural new ABL season in fourth place after being defeated by Adelaide Bite in the minor semi final series. To start the second ABL season, Jet Couriers was announced as the Melbourne Aces' naming sponsor, and the Aces continued to play their home games on the Main Arena at the Melbourne Showgrounds. Josh Spence and Shane Lindsay both debut in the Major Leagues - Spence for the San Diego Padres on the 24th June and Lindsay with the Chicago White Sox on 2nd September.

2012 Essendon won the Summer League Division 1 Premiership and Doncaster the Women's Division 1 title. Ringwood won the Division 1 Senior State Winter Championship and Sunraysia the Division 2 title. The 'Jet Couriers' Melbourne Aces were defeated in an epic ABL Championship Series 2 games to one by the Perth Heat, which was shown live on pay TV (Fox Sports in Australia, ESPN in Asia and MLB Network in USA). Simone Wearne is named into the Baseball Australia Hall of Fame as the first female. Victorian participates in the first National Under 15 Girls Championships with one team, ending the tournament as the runner-up behind the champions, New South Wales. 'Jet Couriers' Melbourne Aces move their home from the Melbourne Showgrounds to the State Baseball Centre (trading and branded as Melbourne Ballpark, Laverton) for the start of the ABL's third season. Melbourne Ballpark undergoes renovations to the artificial grass infield, home run fence, dugouts, bullpens, corporate facilities and general spectator areas, worth approx $300,000. Melbourne hosted the second annual ABL All-Star Game at Melbourne Ballpark - a game played between Team Australia and an ABL World All-Star Team. It was the first time in four years that Team Australia played in Victoria.

2013 Essendon won the VSBL Division 1 championship and Springvale won the VSBL Women’s Division 1 title.

2014 Essendon continued to dominate, winning another VSBL Division 1 championship while Springvale came away with the VSBL Women’s Division 1 title once more.

2015 Essendon won a fourth straight VSBL Division 1 championship and Springvale took out the VSBL Women’s Division 1 title for the third year in a row.

2016 Essendon's reign continued with a fifth consecutive VSBL Division 1 championship and Springvale secured another VSBL Women’s Division 1 title.

James Beresford made his Major League Baseball debut for the Minnesota Twins on 10 September 2016.

2017  Melbourne Aces finish the ABL season as runners-up of the Claxton Shield against the Brisbane Bandits, going down in two games of the ABLCS.

Essendon won a sixth straight VSBL Division 1 championship and Springvale's reign in VSBL Women's Division 1. 

2018 Melbourne Aces finish in fourth place in the eighth season of the reinstated Australian Baseball League. They lost a semi-final against Brisbane Bandits.

Geelong broke Essendon's streak, winning the VSBL Division 1 championship while Springvale's VSBL Women's Division 1 dominance continued. 

Geelong-Korea was named as one of two new Australian Baseball League (ABL) teams to enter into the 2018/19 season. The team would be based at Geelong Baseball Centre and feature a roster made of Korea Baseball Organisation (KBO) players.

2019 The Melbourne Aces finish in fifth place of the ninth season of the reinstated Australian Baseball League. They lost the wildcard game against Canberra Cavalry.

Blackburn won the VSBL Division 1 championship and Essendon surprised Springvale with a huge upset to take out the VSBL Women’s Division 1 title.

Lewis Thorpe made his Major League Baseball debut for the Minnesota Twins on 30 June. 

The Melbourne Aces licence was transferred to a group of investors, long-time baseball supporters Brett and Shaun Ralph.

Geelong-Korea announced Graeme Lloyd as Head Manager heading into their second season in the ABL.

2020 Blackburn won back-to-back VSBL Division 1 premierships, narrowly beating Sunshine in a three-game series. Malvern captured the VSBL Division 2 premiership to earn promotion to VSBL Division 1, while Ormond Glenhuntly won the VSBL Division 3 Firsts and Reserves grand finals. 

The Lions won their seventh VSBL Women's Division 1 premiership in eight years as Springvale dominated throughout the season.

Acknowledgements

  • Victorian Baseball Association. 1935. Annual Report.
  • Trumble, Tom. 2012. "A History of Melbourne Cricket Club Baseball Section." Melbourne Baseball Club Website.
  • Victorian Provincial Baseball League. 2004. Annual Report.
  • Clark, Joe. 2003. "A History of Australian Baseball - Time and Game." University of Nebraska Press.
  • Victorian Baseball Association. 2009. Annual Report.
  • Collins, Kingsley. 2010. "Aces unfold in City Square." Baseball Victoria Website.
  • Collins, Kingsley. 2012. "Ballpark treated to major makeover." Baseball Victoria Website.
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