A TRIO of Tamworth baseballers are about to embark on a dream baseball tour that begins in the Far North and reaches its crescendo in Prague.
Following the long weekend’s June Baseball Carnival at Tamworth, John Warren, Brad Smith and Brock Ridgewell will head to Cairns for the Great Barrier Reef Baseball Carnival before flying to Europe for Prague Baseball Week.
They will represent NSW Country at both events.
Warren has something of a head start over his two younger teammates. It’s the second time for 47-year-old will attend Prague Baseball Week.
“I went over with the Australian Country side in 1997,” he said after pitching for Tamworth against Interport Masters in an A-division clash at the June Baseball Carnival.
“It was great. It’s going to be very tough, though. Most of them play in professional leagues in Europe and all the under-23 teams there are using Prague as a preliminary [competition] for qualifying for the Olympics.”
Warren started his baseball career in Port Macquarie, playing for the Hawks, before he and his family moved to Tamworth. He has been coached by the likes of the late John Carter and James Ardill.
“Jungles [Ardill) was our under-18 coach and was a really good coach,” he said.
Warren’s ability led him to numerous representative teams.
Ridgewell is also an old hand at representative sides, having played for NSW Country from under 14-18. The 19-year-old is currently playing in Newcastle with Mayfield after relocating to the city this year to start university.
“We’re thereabouts,” he said of Mayfield’s season. “[We’re] fourth at the moment but always in contention.”
It will be the pitcher’s first overseas tour and he’s nervously excited about it.
Smith, 29, is a primary school teacher in Armidale at Newling Public School and has been there two years.
He began his baseball on the Central Coast when he was five years old, playing in numerous representative sides and also with the Central Coast Marlins.
A first baseman or third baseman, he is also one of the main stays for the Armidale Outlaws in the Tamworth Baseball Association’s first-grade competition.
He had to take leave without pay to tour with the NSW Country side.
“[It’s the] the first time I’ve been abroad,” he said. “Looking forward to it.”
Ridgewell and Smith played against each other in last season’s Tamworth first-grade cricket competition, with medium-pacer Ridgewell spearheading West Tamworth’s attack and Smith a top-order batsman and captain of City United.