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BASEBALL HISTORY: Region's leaders rise to glory

Peter Best in action this year in the local Major League competition.
Peter Best in action this year in the local Major League competition. Contributed

MORE than 40 Far North Coast baseball players have made it onto the Australian team in the past 80 years.

There's also been others to lead the way.

In a series that began on Tuesday Northern Star correspondent Rob Baxter looks back at who they are and what they've achieved.

18. Mark Buckley

Buckley followed in his father's footsteps when in 1988 he suited up for Australia in the Under 19 World Championships as an outfielder. After the tournament he was selected in the World All Star team. He went on to play for the Daikyo Dolphins for a number of seasons in the national competition. Buckley was also awarded the 1988 Sportsman of the Year in the FNC region. He made another appearance in the 1992 Australian senior team.

19. Matt Gates

Gates took to the field in 1990 for Australia against Japan. He was a versatile 2nd baseman who was a quality batter. He only narrowly missed the team in 1988 to play in the Olympics alongside Michael Nind.

20. Michael Prosser

Prosser was selected as a pitcher in the Australian U18 team in 1989 which toured the United States. He was a quality pitcher in the local competition and was blessed with speed on the base paths. He made numerous appearances for the Queensland team as a junior.

21. Matt Buckley

Ray and Matt Buckley.
Ray and Matt Buckley. Contributed

Buckley made his first Australian appearance in the Australian Under 19 team in 1991.This was the first of many appearances that he would make.

22. Matt Gahan

Matt Buckley, Dave Youngberry, Peter Gahan and Matt Gahan.
Matt Buckley, Dave Youngberry, Peter Gahan and Matt Gahan. Contributed

Gahan made his Australian selection in 1992 in the Under 19 team. He made many more appearances for Australia in the senior team. After a stint with the New York Mets, Gahan gained national selection. He was an outstanding pitcher turning out for Australia in 2000, 2002 and 2006 playing in 17 games. Gahan also played pro ball in Japan. He dominated in the local FNC competition and in one game recorded a feat which may never be repeated when he struck out 25 of 27 hitters.

23. Scott McClelland, Dion Bryant

In 1995 McClelland and Bryant took to the field for Australia after their inclusion to travel to Brazil to play in the World Under 16 championships.

24. Peter Best

McClelland and Bryant were again selected in the Under 16 Australian team in 1996 along with fellow FNC player, Peter Best. McClelland was prominently a utility player while Bryant as an outfielder and Best as a catcher. All three players were quality power hitters.

25. Mathew Buckley, Adrian Meagher Jnr, Bill O'Sullivan

FNC baseball not only produced talented players but Baseball Australia looked to the FNC ranks for leadership in other areas. In 1997 shortstop Mathew Buckley along with pitching coach Adrian Meagher Jnr and Bill O'Sullivan made an impact on the Australia team.

Buckley followed in his fathers and brothers footsteps in his Australian selection. He already had a stink in the United States with the California Angles minor league team and was considered the best shortstop in Australia. He represented Australia in over 70 games from 1997 through to 2001.

Meagher had the reputation as the best pitcher in Australia in the 80s and 90s and in a natural progression became the Australian pitching coach.

Both Meagher and Buckley became Olympians when they turned out for Australia in the 2000 Olympics in Sydney.

O'Sullivan displayed many managerial skills, not only in the FNC Association, but as Queensland's General Manager in four Claxton Shield campaigns, and had a reputation for 'getting things done'. He moved on to the position of Executive Officer in Australian senior teams between 1997 and 2001, highlighted by his selection as Section Manager for Baseball at the Sydney Olympic Games in 2000.

All three are members of the Queensland Hall of Fame.

Topics:  baseball far north coast history players