Boys from Down Under coming up north

The Grand Forks International Baseball Tournament (GFI) will have a distinct Australian flavour this year as the Geelong Baycats will be competing.

Pitcher Ben Knuth and the Geelong Baycats of the Australian Baseball Federation will be taking part in this year’s Grand Forks International Baseball Tournament in late-August and early-September.

The Grand Forks International Baseball Tournament (GFI) is pleased to announce that for the first time in tournament history Australia will be coming.

The Geelong Baycats will be representing the Australian Baseball Federation and their team manager, Nathan Holmes, said,

“The Geelong Baycats are extremely proud to be offered an invitation to this prestigious tournament. Our players are thrilled at the opportunity of representing Australian baseball and the Geelong community on the international stage in Grand Forks.”

Australia will take its place alongside other nations who have previously participated at the GFI. Taiwan, Japan, China, Russia and Mexico have all been here, however, one tournament record will be broken even before play begins on Aug. 31 – this will be the farthest any team has travelled to attend this tournament.

Geelong is a city of almost 200,000 and is in Victoria, the second most populous state in Australia. Melbourne, 75 kilometres from Geelong, is its capital.

The Geelong Baseball Club has been very active in developing the sport in Australia.

This season, the Baycats won their first ever Division One club championship and made their second appearance in the championship series, losing a hotly contested final to the Waverly Wildcats.

They were selected as the Club of the Year and Holmes received Coach of the Year honours and have arguably the best playing facility in Australia.

There are about 25 baseball players from Australia who have made it to the Major Leagues.

The Geelong Baycats organization has long been an excellent breeding ground for young baseball talent and their most recognizable export to the big leagues in the United States is Graeme Lloyd.

Lloyd pitched for 10 years while playing for seven different clubs, which included helping the New York Yankees to World Series titles in 1996 and ’98.

Most fittingly, he also played for both the Toronto Blue Jays and Montreal Expos during his pro career. His birthplace was Geelong, Victoria, Australia and years later, the team from his hometown will participate in Canada’s richest invitational baseball tournament.

In the letter confirming their attendance at the GFI they wrote, “We can’t wait for the umpire to call ‘Play Ball’ on our first game in Grand Forks.“

City of Grand Forks, province of B.C. and yes, even Canada, get ready, plan to be at the GFI Aug. 31 to Sept. 5 because the Aussies are coming.