Overseas imports can carry an element of risk for Melbourne’s baseball clubs. The highlights on YouTube may look good, the player manager might give a glowing character appraisal, and the player may sound keen, but when they arrive in town, it doesn’t always work out.
Werribee Giants went down the import path in the Baseball Victoria division 2 this summer, but there was little to no risk involved here.
The Giants’ first-year coach Charles Thompson only needed to look at his phone contacts for the perfect fit for that import spot.
Thompson played with the club’s new recruit Trent Evins at Lassen Community College eight years ago, so he knew what the Giants would be getting without having to rely on the internet or a manager.
And when Evins heard Thompson on the line, he was delighted to have a chat, but didn’t know it would lead him all the way from his tiny farming community of La Grande, Oregon, in the United States, to baseball Down Under.
“We played college baseball together back in 2007-08,” Evins said. “He gave me a phone call and asked if I was still playing ball, and I told him I’d be interested in playing.
“The next thing you know, I’m out here.”
Even for an import, there is a certain degree of risk attached to joining a club in a foreign land. You have to leave your family on the other side of the world, there’s the possibility of homesickness, and there is no way to determine if the culture at the club is right for you – and that’s after you have your visa sorted.
With Thompson on the inside at Werribee, Evins trusted his recommendation to join the Giants, and it has been a win-win for club and player so far.
“He understands that I know the game and that I am willing to help out and try and make the club better,” Evins said. “He could see that when we were playing together.
“It’s been awesome, the opportunity to come and play ball out here. I just try and give my all each time I go out there.
“The Werribee Giants have really brought me in and taken care of me.”
There is always pressure on the import to perform. That pressure is apparent both on the field as the Giants’ starting pitcher – and off it.
“It is a big responsibility,” Evins said. “There is a lot of pressure being the import player, and they kind of expect a little bit more from you.”
Evins, 29, has delivered everything expected of him … and more. He loves the game and is happy to be a role model for younger players.
No job is too big or small, be it playing a key role on the mound or teaching young tee-ball players the basics of the game.
“When they find out that I am American, they tend to ask questions, so it’s good,” he said.
Evins’ transition to Werribee has been made easier by Phil and Janet Box, who are hosting his stay. They are the parents of Giants’ catcher Oliver Box, who has built a nice synergy with Evins on the field.
“It’s been great having a guy that has played professionally in affiliated ball as a catcher,” Evins said.
Evins has been pleased with Werribee’s performances in the first half of the season. The Giants are on top of the ladder with a 10-2 record, after edging Doncaster 5-4 at President’s Park on Saturday.
“Right now we’re doing a good job of staying consistent,” Evins said.
Meanwhile, Werribee went down 10-7 to Doncaster in the women’s division 2.
The Giants have had just one win in eight games, and their struggles continue.