Questions and answers with American Tyler Maun (pictured above) who is a Marketing and Communications Coordinator with the Australian Baseball League. He is a Denver, Colorado local but Australia has become part of his DNA having spent the 2010-11 summer "Down Under"
1. (NH) What were the circumstances which brought you to Australia and when did you first set foot on Aussie soil?
(TM) Back in 2009-10, I was the radio voice of the Myrtle Beach Pelicans, then the Class A Advanced affiliates of the Atlanta Braves. At the beginning of '09 and for the entirety of 2010, I worked with Perth catcher Matt Kennelly, and sometime during the 2009 season, MLB made the official announcement that they'd be restarting the ABL in conjunction with the ABF. In February of 2010, on a whim, I sent an email to the head of MLB International which got passed through a few levels until landing with league CEO Peter Wermuth. After an interview with him and subsequent interviews with Sydney's inaugural season GM Eddie Bray, I was offered with a position and headed over in October 2010
2. (NH) What were your expectations of what Australia would be like and how did this compare to your actual experiences?
(TM) I really wasn't entirely sure what to expect, to be totally honest. I had never been to Australia before, though I did know a decent amount about the baseball culture there from getting to know Matt. I knew that the transition wouldn't be too bad in terms of culture shock thanks to the language and a similar pace of society. I had no idea that I would fall in love with Australia the way I did, though. The people, the land, the food, the beaches. Everything about it really was a dream. I had an awesome host family that helped my transition who I still keep in close touch with, and I made a lot of lifelong friends there. Sometimes I still have to remind myself that it's all happened, and that's a good thing
3. (NH) What were your expectations of the newly established Australian Baseball League and how did this compare based on the ABL season you saw?
(TM) Working in Minor League Baseball prepares you for a lot of things in a hectic environment. MiLB clubs are often understaffed, and the work there is long and daunting. For home stands, for example, MiLB employees generally get to the ballpark at 8 or 9 am and don't leave until 11 pm or later. In some leagues, that can go on for eight or 10 or 12 days at a time. I had a feeling the ABL would be similar, which it was on game days, but the thing that really fascinated me from the beginning was getting to be a part of starting a league from the ground up. I remember the night before Opening Night in 2010, we were still hanging banners on the outfield wall and making sure everything was perfect for the Blue Sox to host the Cavalry. We've all learned such an immense amount along the way, and being there since the beginning, I feel the ABL is a major part of who I am now, and I hope I've been able to be a small fraction of what the league is building, as well.
4. (NH) What were some ABL highlights for you during the 2010-11 inaugural season?
(TM) In terms of on-field memories, Dave Welch's no-hitter for the Sox against Adelaide during the 2011 second round probably stands out most. That was the first no-hitter I had seen in person at any level, even as a spectator, and the energy at Blacktown that night was incredible. I still remember announcing over the PA system, "Fans, you've just witnessed ABL history" or something to that effect, and Peter Wermuth walked down the stairs in front of the announcer's box and gave me a big smile and thumbs up. That was one of the best I've ever watched. Interviewing Welchy and Glenn Williams after the game was amazing. Welchy could still barely put things into words. To be involved in that moment is something I'll never forget.
I also was fortunate enough to go to Perth in February of 2011 and coordinate the first-ever television coverage of the new ABL with Fox Sports. I was the ground announcer for that series and got to watch three amazing games of baseball between the Heat and Bite. Watching the Heat celebrate the league's first Claxton Shield since its resurrection was awesome. It was even cooler for me getting to see Matt - a guy I'd ridden buses with for hundreds of hours in the Carolina League to places like Kinston, North Carolina and Wilmington, Delaware, Woodbridge, Virginia - celebrate at the apex of the sport in his country. That was pretty cool.
5. (NH) What were some Australian travel highlights for you?
(TM) During the Christmas holiday break that season, my mom came down from the States, and we got to take a pretty good tour of a bunch of places. We flew to Melbourne and spent a few days there, going to see the penguins at Phillip Island and the 12 Apostles. Then we headed up to Cairns and spent some time there. I went snorkelling for the first time in my life, and it was at the Great Barrier Reef. I use that as a trump card for people who tell me about their snorkelling trips in Florida or Mexico over here. I also got to travel with the Sox on a couple of road trips to Adelaide and Canberra. The only ABL city I have yet to make it to is Brisbane. (Sorry, Bandits fans...I'll make it someday!) The Great Barrier Reef probably stands out as the most amazing thing I was able to visit, but the days when I'd take the CityRail train over the Harbour Bridge and look out at the crystal blue water and the Opera House and the CBD in Sydney...those days rank as high as just about anywhere I've been in the world. When I get back someday (hopefully for the Opening Series), Uluru, Tazzy, and New Zealand are top of my list.
6. (NH) You continue to support all things Australian Baseball with articles you write and interviews you undertake so what is the fuel which drives this great Aussie passion?
(TM) Over the last four years, the ABL has really become part of my identity, and I want to contribute to the league's success in any way I can. The way I was embraced by players and coaches and fans in Sydney and really all over the ABL map is something that I truly didn't expect when I made the decision to join the league. In fact, long before I set foot in Australia in 2010, I was worried somewhat about how I'd be received as "the American guy" travelling down to lend a hand with the league. Immediately, though, I felt like I was adopted into the warmest baseball family I could imagine, and I still feel that way to this day. That's what's kept me on. Getting texts and tweets and emails from fans all across the league on a regular basis and seeing how much everyone wants to pitch in to do their part and help this thing become a success, that's a feeling that I've never experienced on quite the same level that I do with the Australian baseball community. Even over here in the States, when I sit down with a guy like Travis Blackley or James Beresford or the Kennellys or whoever it may be, the common refrain from them is always, "Thanks for everything you guys (the ABL staff) do. We want this thing to be around for a long, long time. Keep pushing on." It makes it easy to keep wanting to do my part.
To keep up to date with Tyler Maun follow him on Twitter and his blog ABLogging
For all my baseball themed books please refer to these links:
Aussies World Baseball Classic Experiences from 2006 to 2017 and also available from United States Amazon
Aussie Baseball Musings and also available from United States Amazon
Aussies in the Majors and also available from United States Amazon
Boomerang Baseball and also available from United States Amazon
The American Dream: From Perth to Sacramento and also available from United States Amazon