Gilmore inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame

STEVE Gilmore had much to be proud of after being inducted into the Queensland Baseball Hall of Fame in Brisbane last Saturday night.

The Florida-born man coached Australia to a bronze medal at the under-19 World Championships in Canada, and almost qualified the senior team for the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, against all odds.

After having to fight their way through the difficult Asian route, the Aussies upset Japan, before losing a 14-inning thriller against Chinese Taipei (Taiwan).

After his successful coaching career at international level, he is now highly respected throughout Queensland's relatively small baseball community.

That is because Gilmore, now the chairman of Queensland Schools Baseball, has also worked tirelessly to develop the state's best young talent.

But it all could have been so different if it wasn't for a chance trip he made to the West Indies in 1974.

Working on a sailboat at the time and travelling on a 100-foot schooner, he met natives of Sydney and Auckland.

His interest perked, Gilmore decided to visit Australia in 1981.

He bought a motorcycle in Sydney, and then drove north to the Great Barrier Reef, where, to his surprise, he found out baseball was played at a reasonably high standard.

Gilmore, who was fond of an adventure back in his younger days, was soon offered a job coaching in Brisbane, and hasn't looked back since.

Despite all his achievements, Gilmore treasures the contribution he has made at junior level.

He beamed with pride at the under-18 Queensland Schools Baseball Championships in Hendra last weekend, when talking about the Darling Downs' long-awaited re-inclusion in the tournament.

"It's such a pleasure to have them here," he said.

"There's been a lack of numbers and coordination. They play baseball in Toowoomba, but there are quite a few softball players they were able to entice to switch over and play baseball.

"We're fortunate we have a deputy principal there at Stanthorpe High School whose son plays baseball.

"So she's able to get it off the ground."

Gilmore, who has also worked as a talent scout with the Detroit Tigers and Tampa Bay Rays, said baseball has given him more than he has given it.

"I've been fortunate to travel to Cuba, Nicaragua, Canada, the USA, and China with Australian teams," he said.

"I've been really blessed.

"It's been really fantastic. The people I've been working with have been so wonderful. Baseball's given me a lot more than I've given it."

Also inducted last Saturday night, alongside Gilmore and former Major League pitcher Phil Stockman, was Brisbane All Stars champion John Bartorillo.

Bartorillo started playing the game way back in 1966, when "no one knew about baseball".

He played at A-grade level from 1978 to 2002, and at Masters level played alongside former Australian Test captain

Ian Chappell, who was a two-time All Australian, before Chappell turned his focus to cricket.

"Ian was very, very good. Because he was a cricketer and not a baseballer he'd cop a lot of stick," Bartorillo said.

"The guys would give it to him on the fence and he loved it, because he could finally just be one of the boys.

Bartorillo grew up close to the Nilsson family, and said he would "change (Australia's first MLB All Star) David Nilsson's nappies".

"And we're all still mates now. It's like we're all family, and we all catch up at least once a year," he added.

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