One of the FNC teams that played in the Australian Baseball League in the 1980s.
One of the FNC teams that played in the Australian Baseball League in the 1980s. The Northern Star

FNC Baseball goes from strength to strength

The Northern Star’s second instalment covers the period from the 1980s to 1990

IN ANOTHER first for Lismore, Queensland clashed with Victoria in January 1984 in the first ever Claxton Shield game to be held outside of a capital city.

Peter Buttrum and Sonny Roberson were selected in the Australian under 19 team in 1986 and Buttrum became the first and only Far North Coast player to go on to captain an Australian team.

FNC Baseball continued to show its strength when Michael Nind was named the Australian Junior Baseballer of the Year in 1987 after a very successful performance at the national championships.

The major league format saw a change in the 1988 season where the usual one-game grand final was changed to a best-of-three format.

This proved a great success, adding more interest to the finals, and has continued ever since.

As the 1980s drew to a close, FNC Baseball earned the distinction of producing the most state and Australian players in the decade than any other sport in the Northern Rivers area.

With the senior ranks being so strong, FNC teams would take on Australian Baseball League teams and always put in a strong showing.

After a number of successful years the Ballina club disbanded but at the same time Alstonville joined the competition in 1990 with senior and junior teams with their home field based at Hill Park, Wollongbar.

Timberjacks, a friendship carnival for juniors, commenced in 1990 when Geoff Baxter, Steve Kerry and John McKee started the wheels in motion for its formation.

It started as a single-day tournament with four clubs participating from Coffs Harbour, Brisbane (two clubs) and FNC in the age groups of under 12, 14 and 16.

Now it is one of the biggest junior carnivals held outside of a capital city and is run over three days in the July school holidays where up to 34 teams descend on Lismore from Queensland and as far away as Sydney and overseas to compete.

FNC Baseball was described as the number one emerging sport on the North Coast in 1990 and the sport continued to flourish through the decade.

> This article is compiled from The Northern Star archives and with the assistance of Bill O’Sullivan, Bob McClelland, John McKee and Geoff Baxter.

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