America’s favourite pastime is attracting a strong Australian following that includes a growing number of retirees.
Baseball has come a long way since its humble 1740s beginnings as a southeast English variation of an even older bat-and-ball game called rounders. Since British immigrants introduced what they called “bass ball” to North America, it has rapidly spread to more than 100 nations.
The game can now be found in Australia, Japan, South Africa, Cuba, the USA, Canada, Taiwan, Italy, Germany, the Netherlands and nearly 20 other European countries. Major League Baseball (MLB) events are broadcast to more than 200 nations worldwide.
Baseball has been in Australia since at least the 1850s when American mine workers introduced the game during the Ballarat gold rush. Within a few decades its popularity inspired competition between Victoria and South Australia at the East Melbourne Cricket Ground, which is now part of Yarra Park. This eventually led to championships between New South Wales, Tasmania and Victoria.
The original Australian Baseball League (ABL) began in 1989 and replaced the Claxton Shield. In the following decade a total of eight teams competed from Adelaide, Brisbane, Canberra, Gold Coast, Melbourne, Newcastle, Perth and Sydney.
The present ABL was formed in 2010 as a joint venture between Baseball Australia and MLB. Teams were based in Adelaide, Brisbane, Canberra, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney at the time of publication.
Life Begins At was invited to view round eight of the 2023-24 ABL season between the Adelaide Giants home team and visiting Canberra Calvary.
Diamond Sports Stadium in West Beach boasts a maximum capacity of 5000 spectators, offering a variety of locations including standing room, home plate grandstand, first base grandstand and outer left field.
From halfway up the home plate grandstand the whole field was clearly visible. Play-by-play announcements, pop music and sound effects were at just the right volume. Food, drinks, merchandise and amenities were all conveniently on ground-level.
The game rarely paused and kept moving long enough to keep spectators’ attention. Action was constant but there were enough breaks between innings to step away for refreshments without missing too much gameplay.
Seniors seemed to be allowed to bring cooler bags filled with their own choice of food, drinks and other items without any issues.
Highlights included glow-in-the-dark stress balls that were gently tossed to spectators, children running across the field, and the odd stray baseball hitting the grandstand roof, or narrowly missing a spectator – take extra care during foul balls. Most viewing areas were fitted with safety nets to reduce the risk of injury.
At the first game the Giants scored four runs in the second inning plus a further two in both the fourth and eighth. The Calvary made one run in the fourth inning, two in the seventh and one in the ninth. Canberra had two errors while Adelaide just one.
The second and third days ended with the Giants (three and 10) defeating Canberra (one and three) respectively. The Calvary only secured one win against the Giants during the fourth game with five versus three runs.