Baseball in New Zealand!

Baseball in New Zealand 045 We had a great afternoon playing baseball in a scenic town called Russell, New Zealand, on NZ’s North Island.  Our point people were Ric and Kitty Martini, who moved to New Zealand 3 1/2 years ago from Hawaii.  Their son P.K. is an excellent player (barely missing an out-of-the-park homer!), and more than twenty kids in total turned out for a fabulous Sunday afternoon practice game.

Baseball in New Zealand 031 The team practices on a nice grass field in Russell that is used for all sorts of sports, including football, soccer, and — believe it or not — a golf driving range.  They don’t have fixed bases, a pitcher’s mound, or a backstop.  But the grass is very well kept and quite smooth, and the field sits nicely on one end.  The program was started by the Martini’s three years ago, and until this year, less than ten kids would play regularly.  However, they’re doing a great job with the program, the enthusiasm for baseball is spreading, and now well over twenty players participate, and they’ll be able to field two full teams for a tournament in three weeks!

Baseball in New Zealand 058 The age range of the children was roughly 10 through 14, with a mix of boys and girls.  The coach brings a great, positive attitude to the field, and combines terrific advice with lots of encouragement.  And the kids are very athletic, so I can see why the interest in the program is growing so fast. 

Baseball in New Zealand 039 Gibson got to pitch and play third base during the game, which was a close contest between the Expos and the Marlins.  We brought them Red Sox hats, and they looked great in them.  They said that the only baseball hat that the local sporting goods’ store carries is for some second-tier U.S. team called the Yankees (I think I’ve heard of them, but seem to recall they folded the franchise a few years back) :-) .  

Baseball in New Zealand 064 My wife got a chance to catch up with several of the parents while I was on the sidelines of the game, watching and occasionally helping to retrieve foul balls.  And I had a particularly interesting conversation with a woman whose family had moved to NZ from the Netherlands, and another New Zealander who settled there after sailing around the world with her husband for eleven years!!  (And we thought ten months was a long time :-) ).  My wife and I concluded that life in Russell, New Zealand, is amazingly great.  The weather is gorgeous allBaseball in New Zealand 076 year long, the scenery in the area is spectacular, the people are super, and the schools are good, but flexible to readily accommodate families that are away for months at a time (often sailing).   Plus, the people of New Zealand just seem to have their heads screwed on right when it comes to what’s important in life.   Such a great combination, and now it’s emerging as a center of baseball excellence!!

Feel free to check out our photos from this great baseball day.

2 Responses to “Baseball in New Zealand!”

  1. Richard Hover Says:

    Ah, yes–the Yankees… Hockey team? No, no–I remember! But didn’t they change their name to the Devil Rays, and retire to St. Pete? I’m sure they did…

    Lovely pictures, of a lovely place! Ted, the folks with whom you spoke, Ric & Kitty, are my nephew and niece-in-law (?). Amazing people, as you have ascertained for yourself, I’m sure! PK is their son, and good ‘un he is, too.

    As for New Zealanders, they are in a class by themselves! More British than the Brits, but friendly as the Aussies, and as helpful as anyone could hope for. And the Bay-of-Isles is about as picture-perfect a place as you’re likely to see, anywhere in the world!

  2. Will Says:

    I came across this blog while idly searching google image for pictures of New Zealand. I spent a semester in Auckland in the (Northern Hemisphere) Fall of 2006, met my girlfriend there, and truly love the country. My experience there was absolutely fantastic, and I think your characterization of the kiwis is spot on.

    I was attracted to your blog in particular because, aside from my interest in New Zealand, I am an avid baseball fan and am very interested in its foothold in NZ. While I live in Boston now, I will always be a fan of my home team, the Atlanta Braves. Either way, nothing could be better than a blog regarding New Zealand, baseball, and a knock at that lowly AAA team, the Yankees.

    I really enjoyed it!

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