By Jake Beleski
Wairarapa residents may soon have another diamond-based sport to play thanks to one man’s passion for baseball.
Shane Fawdray of Greytown came up with a plan to try and set up a baseball club in Wairarapa, and that plan has been gathering momentum over the last month.
“I played softball as a kid and played baseball when I was living in Sydney, and I got in contact with Baseball New Zealand to see if there was anything going on in Wairarapa,” he said.
“Their CEO Ryan Flynn came back to me and said ‘no, but if you want to start a club we will support you 100 per cent’.”
The current plan is to get the club off the ground for next summer, and it is hoped it will cater to a host of age groups.
“The goal is to have a tee-ball side and under-11, under-13 and under-16 teams that can start playing in next summer’s competitions.”
Kuranui College and Greytown School came to the party by providing gear to be used, and the first impromptu get-together before Christmas had seen around 20 children turn up.
“Kuranui gave us the gear and I’ve borrowed Greytown School’s gear because they use it for their school sports.
“I’ve had quite a good response to the Facebook page — there’s definitely an appetite for the sport in the area.”
Softball already has a league in Masterton, meaning South Wairarapa could be a suitable location for baseball to set up camp.
“I think it would be really cool to have a couple of diamond-based sports with one in the north and one in the south.
“Ideally we can structure it in a way that kids can play both, as they are in Wellington.
“The aim is not to convert people — it’s about providing opportunity for diamond-based sport.”
One way to generate interest in a sport is to have a star player visit, and that is what will happen when New York Yankees shortstop Didi Gregorius visits New Zealand this month.
Gregorius is set to be in New Zealand from January 9-19, with stops in Wellington and Levin during that time.
There were opportunities for players from New Zealand to learn from Gregorius how to make it to the big leagues in America, Fawdray said.
“There are some quite awesome opportunities for kids that are good — there’s a number of kids coming out of the Auckland leagues that are getting college scholarships, and there are guys that have made it that are playing in the minor leagues.
“I’ve got young children, and if there’s a pathway for education and to possibly make a bit of cash out of it, then that’s why I like it.”
Anyone wanting to try baseball can contact Fawdray via the Wairarapa Baseball Facebook page.