John Curnow’s veteran presence has been important for the promotion-hunting Werribee Giants in Baseball Victoria’s division 2 this season.
Not only is Curnow’s leadership priceless, his all-round game has helped propel the Giants to the top of the ladder.
Curnow is the heart and soul of the Giants, having played all but three seasons with the club, so he would love nothing more than to bring a premiership to Presidents Park.
“It’s basically my second home,” Curnow says with a laugh. “I played all my juniors at Werribee and most of my seniors’ seasons, both winter and summer.
“I went away to play for Newport for three years because they were in division 1 at the time and Werribee in division 3. I was able to gain more experience and bring that back to the club.” Even Curnow admits surprise that his body is still coping with the rigours of baseball at the age of 35.
It’s no bit-part role either, with Curnow top three in the team for plate appearances and with the second-highest pitch count.
His numbers are impressive: hitting .357 with an on-base percentage of .493 and holding an 8-1 record on the mound with a 2.37 ERA.
“I’m pretty happy with how I’m playing this year,” Curnow says. “I’m not your dominant, over-powering pitcher, so being able to do alright with my pitching at my age, not throwing as hard any more, is good.
“I rely a lot on my field to make the plays and the hitters to get themselves out half the time.
“I’ve worked on my hitting a bit more and trying to concentrate more at the plate. Rather than trying the big swings. I’m putting the ball more in play.” Curnow has relished playing under first-year coach Charles Thompson.
Thompson’s enthusiasm for the game has rubbed off on his players in the short time he has been at the club. “He brings out the best in us,” Curnow says. “You can talk to him about anything and he knows a lot about the game. He has a heap of knowledge to pass on. He’s done it himself before so he knows exactly what he’s doing and is able to teach us.”
After two promotion near misses, Werribee is hoping it will be third time lucky this summer. The Giants couldn’t have given themselves a better start than occupying top spot at the mid-season break.
“The past two years we’ve been very close and just haven’t been able to get the runs on the board in the finals,” Curnow says. “Everyone is developing each year, but you’re coming up against clubs that are doing the same thing.”
Werribee’s blockbuster clash with second- placed Doncaster at Deep Creek Reserve this Saturday could have a major impact on the prized automatic promotion spot.