Baseball Australia's Glenn Williams: "Our goal is to propel the ABL to the highest level"

Baseball Australia's Glenn Williams: "Our goal is to propel the ABL to the highest level"
04/11/2021
The Australian Baseball League took the hard decision to cancel the 21/22 season, Glenn Williams, Baseball Australia Chief Executive, explains their vision for the future of baseball in the country.

The Australian Baseball League took the decision to cancel the 21/22 season due to the Covid-19 pandemic, but this cancelation doesn’t affect the long- or mid-term plans of the league to be a key part of the development of the game in Australia.

Glenn Williams, Baseball Australia Chief Executive, answered our questions about the cancellation of the season and their plans for the future.

What are your goals in the mid- and long-term for the ABL?
Long-term, our goal is to propel the Australian Baseball League, and more widely baseball, to the highest level it’s ever been in a highly competitive Australian sporting landscape. To achieve this our short to mid-term goal is to continue to ensure we have a sustainable ABL that can thrive. We’ve made inroads in recent years but like all sports, COVID-19 took its toll on us. As we return to a more normal world, consolidating on expansion and privatization of teams our aim is to continue to develop the ABL into one of the best baseball leagues in the world.

How important is it for the future of baseball in Australia to take a break to build a stronger league?
Firstly, it’s important to make it clear that canceling the 2021/22 season was something we never wanted to do. It was an incredibly difficult decision. But the set of circumstances we found ourselves in, with so much uncertainty, presented a huge risk for the league and its teams. We need financially strong teams to achieve our goal of having a thriving and sustainable ABL into the future. It’s imperative for the future of baseball in Australia that the ABL is thriving and our job is to ensure it does well into the future.

What lessons did you learn from the last season when you dealt with the Covid pandemic?
I took up my current role after the last ABL season so personally experienced it in a different position. But as an organization, we learned the need to be agile during a pandemic. COVID outbreaks and subsequent lockdowns meant we had to adapt on the run a lot, which wasn’t easy. It also reiterated across the league the importance of home content for teams and showed the risks of playing through a COVID world which had an impact when making the decision this year.

Do you have any plan to support players who can't play in your summer since the cancellation of the season?
We are working with ABL teams who are keen to ensure their team takes the field this summer. Outside of that, we have strong state and territory leagues, several of which are already underway, that most of our Aussie stars play in outside of the ABL even in a normal season. Add in returning college players, some that are bound for college in 2022 and a stack of veterans and those leagues are a lot of fun to follow locally.

Since an MLB All-Star like Ronald Acuña played in the ABL in the past, how do you want to present yourself as the better option for the MLB in terms of helping them to develop their top talent?
The relationship between the ABL and its clubs, with Major League Baseball and its organizations, is as strong as it has ever been. During the 2021 MLB season, we saw seven more players with time down under in the ABL make their big league debut. That took the number to 49 players who have made it to MLB via the ABL since 2010. That success, the relationship, and the experience the players have during their time in Australia has us in a strong spot. The MLB organizations sending players down to Australia take it very seriously as an opportunity to develop their top talent on and off the field.

Even with the natural concerns related to the cancellation of a season, the strong plans of Baseball Australia make the future look bright for Baseball in Australia, especially with Brisbane 32 on the horizon.