Sunday, June 12, 2011
Dave Nilsson (pictured above) was a true baseball trailblazer for Australia, playing eight seasons of Major League Baseball with the Milwaukee Brewers, and to date he is the only Aussie All-Star. He is frequently regarded as the best catcher in Brewers history, and Australia's greatest baseball player. The question of who will be the next Dave Nilsson should always take into consideration the factors that made him the player he was, and his high achievements. Nilsson hit 105 home runs during his career, and he had two seasons where he hit 20 or more home runs. Considering that he mostly played as a catcher and had a career .284 batting average is further proof of his special talent. But Nilsson's pedigree can be attributed somewhat to his nature and nurture. To begin with, Nilsson came from an Aussie baseball family. His older brothers Bob and Gary both played some Minor League Baseball. Standing at 192 centimetres tall and 83 to 90 kilograms in weight during his playing days, Dave had the physique of a high performance athlete. When you combine Dave's family influence and his physical attributes, this set the foundations for a talented player. But it is important to remember that Australian athletes with similar physical attributes to Dave, often choose other sports ahead of baseball. Rugby league, rugby union, and Australian Rules Football are the sporting pathways that many athletes take in Australia. So with baseball behind these sports in terms of participation, baseball was lucky to secure an athlete of Dave's prowess. Therefore the question of who will be the next Dave Nilsson is difficult to answer. This is in-part due to the fact that it is rare in Australia to have a family that has such a strong disposition towards baseball. Also, through years of hard work Nilsson established himself as a genuine power hitter, and whilst Luke Hughes and Trent Oeltjen are both currently proving themselves as capable Major League hitters, Nilsson reached a higher hitting echelon than any other Aussie player has to date. With the new Australian Baseball League entering its second season and a continuous flow of Aussies in professional baseball leagues overseas, there is certainly potential for another player of Dave Nilsson's calibre. Yet I predict that such a talent can only come once every 20 or so years, as baseball in Australia is in the shadow of so many other sports, but its capacity to grow is certainly encouraging. Dave Nilsson is frequently mentioned in my book Boomerang Baseball. To purchase a copy of any of my baseball themed books please refer to these links: Boomerang Baseball cheapest seller and The American Dream: From Perth to Sacramento cheapest seller.