Baseball: Kiwi-Canadian becomes first NZ citizen to play in Major League

A Canadian with Otago links has become the first New Zealand citizen to play in the American Major League.

Scott Richmond (28) made his first start for the Toronto Blue Jays when he pitched against the Tampa Bay Rays in a 3-2 loss in Toronto yesterday.

Richmond is the older brother of George and Stirling Richmond, both of whom studied at the University of Otago and played rugby for the Otago University club five years ago.

Their father, Bob, grew up in Auckland before establishing himself as a chiropractor in Canada.

Scott Richmond's promotion to the major leagues came after he worked for three years as a labourer at the Vancouver shipyards before pursuing his baseball career.

The left-hander pitched 5.1 innings for the Blue Jays, striking out four batters and giving up seven hits and three runs in the loss.

By answering the call-up to the Blue Jays, Richmond had to give up his spot on the Canadian baseball team just a week before the Beijing Olympics.

He had starred for Canada in the Olympic qualifying tournament in Taiwan, going 2-0 (with a 1.35 earned run average) in two appearances.

A pre-game ceremony yesterday honoured his team-mates in the Canadian team.

"It was odd not to be standing there wearing red," Richmond told the Globe and Mail newspaper.

"But when I thought about playing in the majors I always imagined it would be in blue."

Richmond was cheered off the field and his former Olympic team-mates were quick to congratulate him.

"Normally, I'd usually just kind of walk off with my head down," Richmond said.

"I wanted to make sure I soaked it in a bit. I had a lot of family members who sacrificed a lot and Team Canada was there, so it was a big game, for sure."


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