League?s loss, baseball?s gain
By BRAD GREENSHIELDS
IF junior league club Marist Brothers were able to field a side 10 years ago, Michael Brown might have been lost to baseball forever.
Instead, the Lismore club had Brown as the only player they had signed.
Unable to play football, Brown looked for another sporting outlet to fill his winters.
Baseball was the answer and the 18 year old hasn't looked back.
Having made the State team in his age group for the last five years, Brown now finds himself for the first time in the Australian squad.
Brown's decision to defer his university studies for a year appears to be paying off.
He's currently training three times a week with the NSW Institute,and playing in the Newcastle competition with the White Sox.
But from the start of July, Brown's baseball workload will increase dramatically.
For six weeks, the 43-strong Australian squad will be training eight hours a day, six days a week.
While an Australian team isn't being selected this year to play in Brown's age group, the outfielder is aware that making a national team opens up opportunities to play college baseball in the United States.
Present at the training camp will be scouts from Major League Baseball (MLB) franchises, but this doesn't over awe Brown at all.
"At the nationals, the scouts came out, so it's nothing new to me," he said.
"But I've put in a lot of effort, so getting to the States is definitely within reach."
A consistent hitter with a lot speed between the bases, Brown is going to the squad training thanks to a $10,000 scholarship from Major League Baseball.
"It's pretty good because the six- week camp ends up costing me about only $800."
For Brown, he hopes MLB's investment is the start of something big.
If Brown does manage to go all the way to the top, rugby league can look at one that got away.