Baseball Australia's plan to have a Tasmanian play in America's Major League Baseball

STRONG VOICE: Baseball chief executive Cam Vale talks to the Korean media over ABL expansion that has plans to include a Tasmanian team for 2019-2020. Picture: ABL Images
STRONG VOICE: Baseball chief executive Cam Vale talks to the Korean media over ABL expansion that has plans to include a Tasmanian team for 2019-2020. Picture: ABL Images

A strong desire to produce Tasmania's first professional player is behind Baseball Australia’s plans to have a team play out of the state by the start of the 2019 season.

That push could come as early as this summer, nearly 12 months ahead of the Tasmanian entry in the ABL.

Baseball Australia chief executive Cam Vale hinted bringing a four-game series to Launceston or Hobart to test interest for the sport.

Vale said baseball’s governing body stands by its bullish approach towards Tasmania joining a national competition before doing so in the AFL, NBL or A-League. 

“This is a chance for us to grow baseball in the state of Tasmania where I have said publicly a number of times other sports are missing a golden opportunity to bring a Tasmanian team into their national league,” he said.

“My strong belief is that even for a sport that is not strong like baseball, it’ll connect with the community and we’ll start attracting young players to play the game.

“Most importantly for people who want to support a Tasmanian team. Our commercial model stacks up and we’ve got a forward plan.”

BID WIN: Baseball Australia chief executive Cam Vale joins the Geelong and Korean baseball contingencies after being awarded one of two new licences for next summer. Picture: ABL Images

BID WIN: Baseball Australia chief executive Cam Vale joins the Geelong and Korean baseball contingencies after being awarded one of two new licences for next summer. Picture: ABL Images

Tasmania had missed out earlier this month on one of two spots in the first steps of ABL expansion to new clubs in New Zealand and a Korean side based out of Geelong.

Vale said that outcome would have very little impact on the state joining the ABL becoming a reality.

“We want to look at our next Major League Baseball player and ask why can’t they come out of Tassie?” he said.

“That won’t happen if we don’t have a presence and, for us, it has to start sooner rather than later.

“We’ve got to find a way and find the right group of people, the right entity that would own and run the team.

“We want to help teams set up and get established.”

Vale was open to the idea of a second Asian team playing out of Tasmania.

But the first preference remained the status quo of recruiting rising Australian players topped with American and Asian imports.

“We will balance looking at a team like that from Japan or from Taiwan in our future expansion, along side a traditional Australian team that is similar to the initial six teams,” he said.

A Tasmanian ABL side would differ from the 2018/19 season, with home games across multiple venues including Devonport and Burnie.

But Baseball Australia favours the club’s home base located out of Launceston.

“We also have enough content to spread across the state, so we are not limited or restricted in having just half a dozen games in one city and we’ll manage them across three or four venues,” Vale said.

“We know there will be a lot of temporary-type venues in Tasmania and that’s where we have to start like North Hobart Oval that has a lot of appeal, but obviously playing in Launceston as well.

“The only limiting factor is cricket pitches that makes it difficult, but outside of that we’ve had created solutions in other places of where you play.”