What the Lions Baseball Club means to me.....
I love this game of baseball, I know exactly when it hit me and I can recall the places and the faces.
When I was 10 I was playing under 12's for the Lions and my dream of playing in the big leagues ignited. My parents would drive me to the games both to play and to watch, and I remember watching with my dad the first grade Lions team play...wow, was I hooked....I cant tell you how much I wanted to be on that field with those guys. Guys like Penfold and Krahe.....I looked up to those guys more than they knew.
We would watch the games at Matcham, that was the "big boys" field. During the finals I remember going back every weekend , the crowds would get bigger as it would get closer to the grand final, whether it was at Adcock or Matcham and I inevitably would be watching the Lions win for another year.
Something about Matcham reminds me of the movie "Field of Dreams", I use to stare out at rightfield, just knowing some great baseball player was going to magically appear out of those trees, didn’t really matter who it was, all I knew was that they would be wearing a Lions uniform, that was certain. I would go to school dreaming of hitting balls into those trees.....after working my way up through the Lions juniors I remember to this day my first home run on that field, it was a low top spin line drive.....In my dreams it was much bigger, actually in my dreams I think it went over the tops of the trees...but that didn’t matter. I was one of them now and I can’t describe how that felt. The memories of Mr. Walsh and Mr. Birch with their sons, hearing the Lions team song after a grand final win, playing with Wally and Murray, winning grand finals and my parents cheering us on.
The last couple of years in baseball haven’t been easy for me. I have had 12 Surgeries and constant physical rehabilitation on my quest to my Big League dreams. I have to admit, there have been times when I question what it is I'm doing, why am I still working to get back on that baseball field?..... And I
recall all these memories.
So what does the Lions mean to me.................
The opportunity to relive those feelings of dreaming big and stepping out on a baseball field and playing the game at its purest, where anything is still possible.
Lions Juniors - Under10’s to Under 16’s
What lions means to me......
"I was one of those kids who picked up baseball from a very young age. Mum and dad always tell me stories of me wanting to play catch with them in the backyard or just wanting a hit whenever I could. It was something that I loved doing as long as I can remember. Lions we're the winter club that gave me the opportunity to start my career. I have played overseas for almost 10 years now, but always think about how important it is to remember back to where it all started.
They are such a professional club with a lot of history, who taught me a lot about the game in general, from winning, to being professional to friendships etc. They are just such a good club with so much to offer...
under 8's (3 years) 1990,1991,1992
under 10's (2 years)1993,1994
under 12's (2 years)1994,1995
under 14's (2 years)1996,1997
under 16's (2 years)1998,1999
In 1999 I played third grade. In 2000 I played one game of second grade and was promoted to first grade and have played there until 2006 when I left to play in the Belgium National League for the Royal Antwerp Eagles.
“I have been playing with the Lions since I can remember and I have had many coaches during the Juniors who gave me the knowledge and training to improved my skills to such a point that I am now playing overseas. I have never had a club with such loyalty from players and coaches alike. When I was faced with a choice between Lions and another club in the summer season it was no contest as to who I would chose. It was Lions because not only are we a successful baseball club, we are also friends and to me that is an important part of playing the game. If you don’t enjoy it then you shouldn’t play, and at Lions I have always had fun and enjoyed the company of my team mates!”
What Lions means to me ......
“I started playing for the Lions from the age of 8. I am still playing with some of those players that were in that team. To me Lions is not just a club it’s a family I know I wouldn’t have got this far without the support of Lions. I know the mates I have made at Lions will be lifelong and I look forward to many more years.
"For me, Lions was always about playing with your mates. We're a friendly and successful club on and off the field which helped me achieve what I have in baseball.. love playing with the boys on a Saturday arvo at HQ."
as for my playing time.. I have been with Lions ever since. I think I played under 8's.. therefore I was 6 or 7 years old. and I’m now 24.. so I have now played for about 18 years straight (WOW - never thought about it before)..
and I think I was 16 when I first played 1st grade.. this is my 9th year as a 1st grader..
Under 14’s 1992
Well I had a look through my records this evening and my first year for Lions was 1992 in the under 14's Competition. When I first played for Lions juniors we had 3 under 14 teams and all the rep players were split up evenly through these teams.
Lions juniors were an institution back then and continue to be now with a large majority of Central Coast players that have gone onto higher representative honours coming through the Lions ranks. One important thing that Lions have always encouraged is for their players to push themselves to play at a higher level. When we came through in the 14's all the rep players also played in the under 16's competition and then in my second year of 14's I was encouraged to start my grade career in 4th grade. The following year as a 14 year old I played the season in 2nd grade and had the honour of making my 1st grade debut. The following year I played 1st grade and have continued in that grade for the past 12 years. I guess my point is that Lions has always encouraged their junior players to feel part of the senior club and always given them plenty of opportunities to play against the men and extend their abilities to improve their skills. To sum up Lions it is a family. It is where our friends are and where we all feel at home.
U/10s T-ball – Coached by Bruce Main
What Lions meant to me?
“Lions’ success and longevity has been based around their family atmosphere which nurtures their Junior players. The friendliness, fun and encouragement to be the best player you can be to achieve your dreams is what makes Lions so successful. To be a girl in a boys sport I was accepted to play as one of them and therefore this gave me the confidence to play at a higher level.”
I first played for lions in Under14 second year so, I would estimate 1991/92, something like that. I played only 2 years with the Juniors, and was one of the lucky few who was boosted straight into first grade, without ever having played a game in the lower grades at all. I think I am among a very few that have done this.
To be catapulted into first grade at that age, into a team that had just won the previous 2 premierships, was a great honor. To show up and see the support that the Club had, with such great players to play with, was something that you looked forward to all week. The Clubs fans, players and administrators were the best in the League, and it was an honor to play with them. It has always been a pleasure to play with the Lions, and I am grateful that I found the best Club I could imagine. I would do anything for the Club, and this attitude is amongst the majority of the members is why it is unrivalled on the Central Coast.
Lions meant a lot to me growing up as it founded my baseball skills. It was always a good day of baseball with the Lions. I couldn’t wait for the weekend to come so I could get out on the mound and do the best I could for the mighty Lions. I will always look back to those days, playing with my team mates that I had grown up with and the respect the older boys had given us coming up through the grades, they always gave me confidence to be who I wanted to be and no other club has shown me that respect. We had many great victories and it was always good to knock off the Maggie’s. So in saying that the Lions were the club that got me to where I am now (playing professional baseball) and by giving me the opportunities and the support I needed to become the baseball player I have always wanted to be. Good luck to the future Lions and I wish them all the best and much success to the club.
What it means to me to grow up with Lions baseball
I was only 8, and Coach ‘Walshy’ towered over us accusing someone of stealing his lollies, and in the background, Assistant Coach ‘Gooey’ giggled like a girl; he was the naughtiest kid I knew! (Where had he planted the lollies today?) My plastic glove didn’t fit, my cleats didn’t have any, those pants felt too tight and too short and on top of all that I had a bright yellow ‘L’ on my hat. Welcome to the Lions!
Fly balls were scary, my mum screamed too loud; T-ball was hard enough now I’ve got to face pitches. My first stolen base, my first home run, then I’m struck out again and Dad’s goin’ off. Who cares? We won. My first ‘Lion’s Roar’.
You’re kidding, Dad wants to play with the other Dads. I guess that’s what 5ths is for.
Fifteen years on and the Lions is like a family to me. The under 8’s has hardly changed; Dales grew dredies, Ash found girls, Blunden found Beam, Binnsy got a handicap, Ando found baseball, Ricky’s arm’s shot, Walshy’s still a big kid and I told you Gooey was naughty!
I’ve had the privilege of playing ball all around the world but growing up with the Lions means the world to me.
I played for Lions from U/8s through to U/16 so I guess it would have been around 1989-2000.
What Lions has meant to my baseball........playing with Lions Juniors meant being around good people. The coaches were very experienced and knowledgeable, as well as being willing to spend extra hours at training for those of us begging for more swings. The camaraderie among the players and supporters of the Club is fantastic and I think that has been crucial to the success of the Club. But one of the best things about Lions Juniors was having the best players on the Central Coast in our senior ranks, and having the chance to train and eventually play along side them. The older players beginning successful careers in baseball opened my eyes to the opportunities presented by top-level baseball. The influence and encouragement of Lions players was a big factor in me reaching the level of my best baseball years.
What does it mean to you to play for Lions.
Well it means a lot to me / its a good feel.
Lions is such a terrific club, from T- ball right through Jnrs we were encouraged to just have fun and the club will develop our skills along the way. We were never results focused until we reached the last few games of each season and not only did we win a lot of finals games, we were the best dressed kids out there. Moving into senior baseball was easy as there were so many good club men to encourage the young guys into grade. So many friends, so many good times, bloody good club..........
First played u/10 T-ball in year 2000 age 9...........Played every season
I played for Lions in juniors from 1985 as a 6 year old until I finished in 1994 as and under 16.
I did not miss a season through Juniors and Seniors until I went overseas in 2003.
Lions was the first baseball I ever knew from watching dad as a tiny brat out at Matcham in the early 80's on the freezing winter days standing around the fire in the 44 gallon drum and Lions will always be the most important Club I have ever been involved in, wherever I have played around the world.
I would like to take this opportunity to firstly congratulate the Lions Baseball Club in reaching its 50th year and secondly to applaud all the fantastic volunteers and supporters, past and present for making this club one of a kind. I have been fortunate enough to play almost 20 seasons with Lions and have had the pleasure of meeting many interesting characters along the way, some who have become life long friends.
I was asked to put down in a few words what Lions means to me in the context of playing the game and competing at different levels, and as most of you know after a few Sherberts I can blow the wind up my own backside without coersion, but in the context of paying tribute to the Lions Baseball Club I didn't feel it would be appropriate to talk about my achievements but instead concentrate on what I have taken from my Lions journey.
So, what did I learn over the last 20 years?
Here is my top twenty.
1. "Nibby Constantine or Nibby Con" is the spin you put on the ball to bamboozle hitters and impress your club's president when it works.
2. The tables in the back room of The Grange Hotel back in the early 90's were never designed to carry a baseball team.
3. No one in the history of the game strikes out like Wayne Penfold.
4. Premierships = Kegs.
5. Phil Walsh + Super Beer = Trouble.
6. The only Lions player not to play in a premiership winning team is Mick Penfold.
7. If you can't drink em leave em, and if you can't leave em drinkem!
8. Washout = Pub.
9. Bye = Pub.
10. Don't throw your bat or helmet, it's not their fault you can't play. (I never did this)
11. Baseball training is overated.
12. Wally.com is your one stop shop for all Baseball information.
13. Mutley has the best curve on the Coast.
14. Luke Krahe would have been an even better ball player if he didn't suffer from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.
15. The Wolf is not one of the "Big Five Cats".
16. Mutley is a Wolf in Lions clothing.
17. You can buy Port in 20 litre drums if you have the right contacts.
18. Chicks love Home Runs.
19. Paul Oval at Matcham is "The House of Pain" and "The Big Green Monster" all rolled into one.
20. Once a Lion always a Lion!
Thanks for the memories!
PS I think I played 2 seasons at junior level in U/15 1987 and U/16 1988.