The history of baseball in Australia is one which stems back very far into the world of sports. Way back when, when the American miners came to the Victorian goldfields, they brought the game which they love to play along. Baseball was introduced onto Australian soil.
Ian Chappel loves to tell a story dating back to the Depression-era. A famous catcher for the Chicago Cubs was approached by a man in some formal wear, just outside of a hotel. The man wanted to know whether he knew who he was and the catcher by the name of Gabby Hartnett looked at him and then stated that he doesn’t remember his name but knows that he was unable to hit the ball high and outside. Chappell, who captained the Aussie cricket team from 1971 to 1975 said, that is a catcher. Chappel himself was involved in baseball, playing catcher at the state level when he was still at school in South Australia. This was the days before he switched over to cricket. He is convinced that his past positively influenced the way he performed as a cricketer as a baseball catcher.
Migrants and Miners
During the 1850s, the gold rush hit Australia, and many Americans flocked to the country down under to share in the riches. During these times, Sunday afternoon would be the designated time for men of all ages to partake in games of both cricket and baseball, often offending those who considered themselves of a higher moral and religious ground. Even much later in the late 19th century, there are still records indicating that the game of baseball was played regularly in both Sydney and Melbourne.
World War II
Later on, after World War II, many American men who served in the war married Australian ladies and migrated to the country. They started various teams and leagues. To allow players to be involved in both baseball as well as cricket, cricket was played as a summer sport and baseball during the winter months. This gave those playing cricket and not keen on getting involved in the physical impact of football, the opportunity to be involved with a different winter sport.
Dave Nilsson, the Australian who played catcher for the Milwaukee Brewers, an MLB team, from 1992 to 1999, said that he agrees with Chappell. He noted that the commonality between captaincy in cricket and catching in baseball is uncanny. With both, you continuously need to analyze the swing of your opponent and decided from that how to attack. The success which Craig McDermott achieved in cricket as a fast bowler, can be contributed to the training which he received from his fellow Queenslander, Nilsson, on how to bowl using a technique stemming off form baseball’s knuckleballs. This kind of bowling is referred to as a spider.