First Dunedin club may become part of explosion

New Zealand Baseball coaching development manager Kris Richards giving some pointers to Kyal...
New Zealand Baseball coaching development manager Kris Richards giving some pointers to Kyal McKean (16) at the Edgar Centre yesterday. PHOTOS: GREGOR RICHARDSON
Dunedin will soon have a baseball club.

The University of Otago is establishing a club and yesterday Baseball New Zealand coaching development manager Kris Richards made his way through snow to give the first of two coaching seminars.

The Auckland Tuatara player was in Invercargill on Monday to network and connect with people interested in getting the game up and running.

About 15 people turned out for the meeting and Richards was expecting a similar number in Dunedin yesterday evening.

"As of right, now we are just trying to get the news out there and to see who wants to jump on board and be part of the movement," Richards said.

Auckland Tuatara development player Mitch Finnie, who is from Dunedin, is also behind the push to generate more interest in the South.

Other figures to come out of the Otago region are New Zealand under-18 wider squad member Arana Kelly and ex-New Zealand Diamond Blacks representative Daniel Bradley.

"There are plenty of stories like that throughout the country. It is just the issue they are not playing baseball.

"They need [to be playing] to give themselves a chance."

Kris Richards in action.
Kris Richards in action.

The advent of the Auckland Tuatara, which plays in the Australian baseball league, has increased the profile of the sport in New Zealand.

It has given baseball a toehold which Richards hopes will grow into more of a stronghold during the next decade.

Nationwide, there are about 2500 people playing but most of them are in Auckland. Richards, who hails from North Carolina, is predicting that number will explode.

"It is a sport that has had a lot of resistance in the past just because this is softball country.

"But now with the Tuatara being on TV, two Kiwis playing professional baseball in the States and 22 kids playing college baseball, people are going to see other people starting to play and more and more kids will come across.

"I bet 10 years from now, if we look back at this moment, we are going to have quadrupled our numbers.

"There are going to be a lot of people playing baseball throughout the country."

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