Results tagged ‘ Graeme Lloyd ’
By Zach Parolin / Perth Heat
The 66th annual event brought together nearly 50 Yankee greats, including Yogi Berra, Reggie Jackson, Whitey Ford and Lloyd. The Australia native won two World Series with the Yankees in his three years with the team, finishing his 1998 season with an astonishing 1.67 ERA.
Perth Heat Chairman Geoff Hooker and pitcher Dean White were on hand to support their friend and colleague. It was 11 years ago that Lloyd helped win an Australian Baseball Championship for the Perth Heat, well before he launched his 10-year career in the United States.
Lloyd will return to the Heat as pitching coach again this season as the team competes for its third straight ABL championship.
This article was written by Rory Costello. / The Society for American Baseball Research
Long-limbed southpaw Graeme Lloyd became the first Australian to win a World Series ring. The 6’8” reliever joined the New York Yankees bullpen late in the 1996 season and remained with the club for the 1998 championship too. Through the 2011 season, this distinction remained unique among Aussies. Just one other of Lloyd’s countrymen, Grant Balfour, had made it into the World Series (Tampa Bay, 2008).
Lloyd, the third Australian-trained major-leaguer, was also the first pitcher from Down Under to reach the majors (1993). By the end of 2011, 18 more hurlers had followed him.iii None, however, had appeared in more games than Lloyd’s 568. He pitched 533 innings, showing that he was used as a specialist for much of his career, but he did post 17 saves to go with his 30-36 won-lost record and 4.04 ERA. For middle relievers, perhaps the most telling statistic is the percentage of inherited runners allowed to score; over his career, Lloyd’s mark was a respectable 141 out of 447 (32%). He also had a spotless 0.00 ERA in 13 postseason appearances, including a win in Game Four of the 1996 World Series.
Except for an unusual visa issue, Lloyd could have stayed in the majors beyond 2003 – but he was then free to join the Australian national team as they won a silver medal in the 2004 Olympics. In late 2008, he became a coach in his native land.
Graeme John Lloyd was born on April 9, 1967 in Geelong. This small city (pronounced Juh-LONG) is about 60 kilometers southeast of Melbourne, the capital of the state of Victoria. His father, Noel, was a sheep rancher.iv The ranch was in Gnarwarre, a little to the west of Geelong. Noel and his wife Pauline also had three daughters named Deborah, Sherryn, and Jennine.
At the age of 10, Lloyd picked up a baseball for the first time after one sister’s boyfriend convinced him to try the game, which is not in the mainstream of Australian sports.v As the Associated Press reported in 1994, he was hooked. “It was sort of a fluke,” Lloyd recalled. “The first day, I just grabbed the ball and started throwing it, never dreaming what it would lead to. And 17 years later, here I am. What if I hadn’t gone that day? It’s all pretty amazing.”vi
“I had a go at cricket in school and I played Australian Rules Football for a couple of years, but I always came back to baseball. It was what I was best at,” he added.viiThat is significant because Victoria is the stronghold of Aussie rules football, and height is an asset in that game. Yet as a contributor to the Ultimate Mets website wrote in 2003, “I played baseball with Graeme Lloyd for about seven years. When he was ten years old everyone who saw him play knew that he was going to be something special. But apart from his obvious physical talent, ‘Lloydy’ had the one quality that I and none of his Australian contemporaries had: the mental toughness to make it to the top.”
“My first team was the All Stars – they were a team in the Geelong baseball league,” Lloyd recalled in 1989. “I spent two years playing with Essendon in the city [Melbourne], and then back to Geelong again before finally ending up at Sunshine.” At age 19 in 1987, he made his debut in the Claxton Shield tournament, then Australia’s top baseball competition. Amateur teams represented their states, and Lloyd was a utility player for Victoria. When his team faced Queensland in Brisbane, the crowd was rough. Lloyd said, “You watch the British soccer and you think, wow, you never see this in Australia, but I thought they were that close to coming over the fence.”viii
The Toronto Blue Jays signed Lloyd as an amateur free agent in January 1988. As he told the story the next year, “A few talent scouts came out from the American leagues to have a look around and see what talent was here. I think what happened with me was that someone said to one of these guys ‘go and have a look at this guy.’ So they came and had a bit of a look, and they decided to invite me to spring training.”ix In 2012, he said, “It’s a whole different world now. . .The scouts now have the media in the palm of their hands. They see a kid on their iPhone and say ‘wow, he has a great action’ and think about coming to Australia to sign him. And we have a lot of scouts here now.”x
The man who signed Lloyd was the Jays’ director of international scouting, Wayne Morgan. He made an assessment that held true for Lloyd’s pro career. “He doesn’t throw real hard, but he might get a little faster. He’s got good movement, a good delivery and can throw strikes. His curve is not bad and he’s got the start of a pretty nice change-up.”xi A decade later, a Sports Illustrated scouting report ahead of the 1998 World Series described him at his big-league peak. “With his long arms LH Graeme Lloyd is tough on lefties: ‘Wraparound’ breaking ball gets them to flinch.”xii
The former Brisbane Bandit left his mark on baseball, both in Australia and with the Milwaukee Brewers
By Alexis Brudnicki
Don’t judge a book by its cover.
Unless, of course, it’s the book of Australian baseball and David Nilsson happens to be on the cover.
In that case, judge away.
The native of Brisbane spent eight years in the major leagues with the Milwaukee Brewers, leaving only to represent his home country at the Olympic Games. Nilsson’s career slash line with the Brewers reads .284/.356/.461 with 105 home runs and 470 runs driven in.
Nilsson has been a pioneer for baseball in Australia, representing both the Brewers and the land down under as the only Aussie to participate in a Major League Baseball All-Star Game. The catcher played for Team Australia when they took home gold from the Intercontinental Cup in 1999, and he represented his country twice in the Olympics, earning a silver medal in 2004.
Leaving an Aussie stamp on the game of baseball is something that the former Brewer takes great pride in, and thinks about often.
“It’s at the front of my mind,” Nilsson said. “It’s what I am and it’s what I do. I didn’t really have a choice in that and I’ve always tried to embrace that. I don’t think people realize probably how I’ve tried to help. So most definitely, I’ve always tried to embrace that role and I think that’s always going to be a part of who I am and what I do.”
Not only has Nilsson garnered numerous personal accolades in baseball on his own, but he joined forces with current Perth Heat pitching coach Graeme Lloyd in Milwaukee to become the first, and so far only, all-Australian battery in the big leagues.
“In 1993, he and I were the first pitcher-catcher duo in the big leagues, the only one at this moment,” Lloyd said. “It was a great three-and-a-half years that I spent with him playing with the Milwaukee Brewers, and to have another Aussie on the team was really cool. We’ll be lifelong friends for the things that we’ve gone through back in those days.”
Taking his place behind the dish when Lloyd was on the mound was extremely special for Nilsson, who felt the magnitude of the moment when it happened for the first time.
“It was larger than life,” the All-Star backstop said. “Really, we were in the heat of the moment, obviously Graeme’s trying to perform and I was trying to perform, but there was no getting around the enormity of what we were doing. I think that’s part of the bond that we have, part of that special relationship we have.
“It’s definitely not the sort of thing where you play and then five years later you look back at it. No, it was intense, we were in the middle of it, and we tried to embrace it without it sort of defining who we were as baseball players. Obviously we were trying to be good baseball players, but we couldn’t get around that.”
The relationship between the two former Australian Baseball League players is extremely unique.
“I don’t think anyone can take away or really even comprehend the relationship that Graeme and I have had,” Nilsson said. “Obviously now in the minor leagues there are a lot more Australians, so now Australians get to play against each other and some are on the same teams now, more so than before.
“But for Graeme and I to have the experience of playing together on a major league team 20 years ago, it’s really special. I think there’s a bit of a special bond where we got to go through stuff and experience stuff together that no one else was. So I just have an enormous amount of respect for him with his achievements and what he’s done and some of the obstacles we’ve overcome.”
“I think it’s a relationship of mutual respect and understanding that we really did something together than not many people did.”
While the pair is most famous for appearing side-by-side in Milwaukee uniforms, they also donned green-and-gold jerseys together to represent Australia internationally.
“It was very different playing in the Olympics,” Lloyd said. “When you play over in the MLB you play for Milwaukee or New York or whoever it is, but when you’re playing for your country with all your countrymen there’s a certain part of pride in that flag and everything that you play for and there’s a lot of passion with that.”
Both Nilsson and Lloyd continue to support baseball down under, though they both spend a significant amount of time overseas. Both played in the old ABL and Nilsson was the manager of the Brisbane Bandits in the inaugural season of the new ABL while Lloyd is still the Heat’s pitching coach. They both know just how much the league has to offer.
“You’re going to see the stars of tomorrow in the big leagues and also great Australian athletes doing their thing out on the field,” said Graeme Lloyd, 10-year major league veteran and current pitching coach for the Perth Heat. “Coming to a baseball game, hopefully people are going to see the amount of skill that’s involved, when someone hits a triple and guys are cutting the ball off and throwing the ball, trying to get him out at third base.
“There are guys throwing the ball 350 feet, guys hitting the ball 450 feet, we’ve got guys from Australia who are throwing 95 miles an hour off the mound and all these things lead to great entertainment in sport. It’s a great product and a great game and I might be a little biased but that’s the way I feel. And I hope the Australian public will think the same thing.”
Nilsson believes in both baseball and the Australian athlete, and that the sport will continue to develop down under.
“Australians in general are good at sport, they’re committed to sport and they’re passionate about sport,” Nilsson said. “If baseball’s going to be one of their sports, they’re going to be good at it.”