The Men's World Softball Championships has been a special one for the Mount Albert Ramblers. The Auckland based side have players representing four other countries at the tournament, which is the most for any club in the world.
Warren Freer Park is a long way from Whitehorse Canada where the Ramblers flag is flying high.
Former Black Sock and now Hall of Famer Steve Jackson turned out to the Mount Albert based club to witness his former team taking on Australia in the final.
“The boys have gone really well. It's not a surprise, they are quality people and quality players,” says Jackson.
As well as the Black Socks, the Ramblers players have turned out for Denmark, Great Britain, Japan, and today's opponents Australia. Former New Zealand representatives Dion and Israel Nukunuku – brothers to captain Nathan Nukunuku - swapped the black and white for the red of the Danish.
The benefits of having international players are huge according to Premier player Rhys Evans, whose brother Cole plays as a shortstop, “Us young guys down at Ramblers, we get to learn off all the best players in the world, and from around the world as well.”
Evans also believes that knowledge of Ramblers Japanese pitcher Kento Okazaki proved beneficial for New Zealand in their round robin match with the Asian powerhouse.
“I think they boys have had a look at Kento, and they knew a lot about what he throws.”
The Ramblers supporters had a foot in both camps, with Australian representative Andrew Kirkpatrick out on first base. Kirkpatrick has helped many of the young players like 15-year old Brock Evans.
“I look up to him, he's one of the first national players I got to see.
“He's a top athlete, but a top guy off the field. He's just got so much because he's been around for such a long time.” Says Rhys Evans.
Today's result was never in doubt, with many of the club's faithful correctly predicting the outcome.
“New Zealand all the way! But, having said that you never know,” says Jackson
The Ramblers can be proud that their club has contributed to a number of teams at this year’s World Championships.
Photo Courtesy of Christine Nukunuku