19 Oct 2012

Heathmont Baseball Club Grand Final Success – Adjournment Debate

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Mr SYMON (Deakin) (20 September 2012 11:37): Last year on 19 November I attended the official opening of the AG Lavis Pavilion in the suburb of Heathmont in the electorate of Deakin that I am privileged to represent. As I noted in this place on 16 February this year the opening of a new pavilion was a great turnaround for the sporting clubs that have been using the grounds and facilities. The AG Lavis Pavilion is used by both the Heathmont Baseball Club and the Heathmont Baptist Cricket Club. The baseball club uses the facilities in winter and the cricket club uses them in summer.

I was first contacted by Mark Le Grew from the Heathmont Baseball Club in August 2009 with a request to inspect the state of the facilities. At a meeting that September and during subsequent visits I learnt more about the Heathmont baseball club and saw first-hand the run-down and dilapidated facilities that were on offer. With the valued assistance of Maroondah City councillor Paul McDonald and the support of Shaun Leane MLC for Eastern Metropolitan in Melbourne we were able to put up a case for funding of a new building with Maroondah Council. No substantive work had been done on the building since at least 1981 or maybe even before—it was so long ago that many people could not remember anything happening there—and it certainly showed.

We were able to get an RLCIP funding grant of $246,000 from the federal Labor government towards which the Maroondah City Council put $687,000 to produce a great result that saw the delivery of a brand new facility for the clubs that is a model for future developments of sporting facilities in both Maroondah and other local government areas. With a deck out the front and with huge bifold doors it is a great viewing area, whereas the old playing field viewing area was pretty much a piece of tin over the top of a small brick and concrete building. The new building is also air-conditioned, which is a must for hot summer and cold winter days. On 12 April this year I was invited to throw the first pitch for the season and to mark the first in-season use of the new clubrooms and facilities. I am happy to report that I did get the pitch on line, though it was not very fast. Last weekend, on Saturday, 15 September, the Heathmont Baseball Club won the premiership of the A-grade competition of the Melbourne Winter Baseball League against Research Baseball Club with a score of 10-0. The D2-grade team unfortunately lost by one run, with a score of 6-7, in extra innings to Footscray in their grand final. Overall, though, the club had four of its six senior teams in the finals along with two of its three junior teams, an amazing effort and I think worthy of applause from afar here in Canberra.

The success of the various teams in the finals is a source of great local pride which can only be stoked by the selection of two players, John Kennedy and Matt Wilson, for the Australian under-18 side and the signing of Matt for a March 2013 start with the Baltimore Orioles in the US. In addition, James Brooks was signed to the Washington Nationals in July this year and has successfully completed their minor league season following on from four years in college. Josh Hendricks is another Heathmont player who has found success in a bigger league and who is now in his second year of a contract with Minnesota. Both players, James Brooks and Josh Hendricks, started playing for Heathmont Baseball Club as 13- or 14-year-old players and their success has been a great example to the many young players that are coming through the club now. Over the years, Heathmont Baseball Club has produced many Olympic representatives and 25 Australian representatives and, in addition, has produced Australia’s highest profile baseball player, Atlanta Braves pitcher Peter Moylan, who signed professionally while he was still playing at the club in Heathmont.

I am certain that the success of the club did not come about just by having a new building; it came about through hard work and persistence on the part of the players, coaches, administrators, supporters, parents and all the other people that make a great local club. They deserve all of the recognition that success as the number one winter baseball club in Victoria brings. That they now have brand-new facilities that they are very proud to show off to visiting teams and spectators is merely the icing on the cake. Congratulations to the A-grade team at Heathmont Baseball Club on winning this year’s grand final and congratulations to all the other Heathmont teams that made the finals. I am sure that there are many more to come in the coming years and long may the club’s success continue.

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