US baseball manager visits college
To most Kiwis the name Ron Roenicke wouldn’t ring any bells.
To the baseball players at One Tree Hill College it was an honour having him come to visit.
Roenicke is manager of the major league baseball team the Milwaukee Brewers and is travelling around New Zealand helping to entice even more players into one of the fastest growing sports in the country.
‘‘I think it’s exciting to see a country that’s interested in baseball and giving the great athletes you have here an option with what sports they play,’’ Roenicke says.
‘‘There is some talent here, there are some really good athletes with strong, quick, powerful swings.’’
Roenicke had an eight-year playing career with six different teams, the highlight being two appearances for the San Diego Padres in the 1984 World Series.
He then turned to coaching and was part of the Los Angeles Angels coaching staff when that team won the 2002 World Series.
One Tree Hill College has won the national secondary schools baseball title two years in a row and are hoping to make it a three-peat at this year’s tournament.
Coach Cola Yeh says opportunities to get advice from Major League players and coaches don’t come around often.
‘‘It’s very important having people like Ron visit.
‘‘We are not a baseball country. So to have a profes- sional coach come here, it’s great. We talk to the kids and tell them that this is a special moment.’’
Roenicke spoke to the players and watched them in the batting cages, before casting his eye over a game between One Tree Hill players.
‘‘We are incredibly fortunate for this to happen, kids in the United States would never get something like this because the managers are so busy,’’ director of sport Brian Faunt says.
Attracting people like Roenicke is a coup for Baseball New Zealand and shows how far the sport has come in New Zealand.
‘‘Having a major league manager with the pedigree that Ron Roenicke has, is a huge boost for the sport in this country,’’ Baseball New Zealand chief executive Ryan Flynn says.
The crew: The One Tree Hill College diamond sports players with Ron Roenicke, centre.