Long reaches 200-game AFC milestone
Playing 200 games in Auckland’s premier softball league has been a walk in the park for Gerard Long.
The 33-year-old Marist utility infielder became the first player to reach the milestone in the Auckland Fastpitch Championship (AFC) league, when he helped his side defeat Howick 3-2 on November 19.
‘‘The first thing that comes to mind when you mention 200 games is old.
‘‘Bbut to be honest it hasn’t felt like that many games at all,’’ Long says.
‘‘It’s always something to be proud of, to play that many top level games.’’
Long began his softball career at Onehunga Mangere Club before moving to Eden Roskill where he got his first taste of premier ball.
Over the past 11 years, Long has played 173 games for his former club, the Waitakere Bears, and 27 games at Marist.
He’s also featured in several AFC Series and tournament teams, and represented Samoa in the 2013 World Series.
His first international game with Samoa and winning the National Fastpitch Championships last year were his most memorable games, he says.
But there are games which he wishes he could forget.
‘‘I missed a catch that ended up being a home run and cost my team a chance to play in the men’s open club nationals a few years ago.
‘‘I’m sure every player has made mistakes in games they would rather forget but I like to look back on it now and say it’s made me a better player.’’
Long has now set his sights on making the Samoan team for the world series in 2017.
He intends to keep playing softball and remain injury free to enjoy more seasons.
‘‘Representing Samoa means so much to me.
‘‘I’m hoping to get the chance to represent them again so fingers crossed that I’m playing well enough to put on the Samoan jersey again.’’
Going up against some of New Zealand’s best is the reason why Long has stayed in the game so long.
He admits he loves the challenge and the adrenalin rush he gets from the game.
‘‘My motivation is to just keep playing the game I love, I enjoy being around the boys at trainings and competing every week.’’
Gerard Long, right, played for Eden Roskill and the Waitakere Bears before joining Marist.