Te Wera Bishop is one of the more experienced hands at the Tuatara. Since signing with the Boston Red Sox seven years ago he has been playing overseas. With the chance to play on the first NZ professional roster he's happy to be playing at home.
He never imagined that baseball would one day be a professional sport in New Zealand, and it's an experience that still has Te Wera Bishop amazed. "I love it, to play professional baseball at home. I've had to go overseas, so this is amazing. This is awesome," Bishop said at McLeod Park ahead of the final home game of their inaugural Australian Baseball League season.
Bishop is one of the Māori players who has picked up spots on the inaugural Auckland Tuatara roster this year. The Te Whānau a Apanui product, says "I wanted to help head this team, and help guide Baseball New Zealand to where we want to be."
Work commitments as a carpenter have seen Bishop commute weekly from Adelaide where he lives with his family. With the Tuatara wrapping up their final home series of the season against the Sydney Blue Sox on Sunday, Bishop will be joining his teammates in Australia for the rest of the season.
The Porirua raised Bishop was 17 when he signed with Major League franchise Boston Red Sox, before being released two years later. He has been with the Milwaukee Brewers since then, and has played for the Adelaide Bite in the ABL. Now 25 years old, Bishop is happy playing baseball at 'home' in Auckland, "I've had a long while playing pro-ball and I enjoyed, I loved it but now that I've got my whānau and I've got my little girl it's sort of, you need some roots you know," he says, "I gotta hold it down for them as well as try to play a bit of baseball as well which is awesome."
He is one of a number of young baseball players who have made the switch from softball, he is predicting that many will follow in the future, "I think there is going to be a lot of cross over, and I hope there is, you know we want the best athletes to play the best sports in New Zealand."
The home games have finished for this season, losing their series against Sydney but picking up wins against defending champions Brisbane Bandits and Canberra Cavalry. Bishop and the Tuatara will be looking forward to getting back in front of their home crowd next season.