17 July 2019

Grening's pitch to diversify baseball in Canberra

| Lachlan Roberts
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Brian Grening is teaching kids the skills he learnt throughout his storied career. Photos: George Tsotsos.

Canberra Cavalry legend Brian Grening admits that the moments he missed the most once he retired were the ones when he was able to connect with members of the community.

He missed it more than pitching, more than winning the Claxton Shield, more than the highest individual honour.

So just weeks after he hung up his glove, he launched Diverse Baseball Canberra, volunteering his time to teach baseball to all multicultural, minority, women’s and diverse communities in Canberra.

“When you are playing, you can throw your jersey on and walk into any school, hospital, or a sponsored event and everyone welcomes you,” Grening shared.

“I played all over the world and I saw this across every economic level. Baseball gave me that platform to really help people and really connect with them. If the jersey is on the right person, it can make a huge impact and do a lot of good in the world.

“So I wanted to create this organisation so I could continue to do things in the community and maybe give some chances to kids that don’t normally get picked first in the sport.

“It allows me to stay connected to the game in a positive way but also give back to a community. This is my new platform to do that.”

The boy from Oregon changing the lives of kids in Canberra.

Hailing from Portland, Oregon and schooled in California, then playing for nine different professional teams in five different countries, Grening now calls Canberra his home and is dedicated to growing the sport in his adopted home town.

“It is just a great opportunity to give back to the community that welcomed me literally from day one when I come here,” he said. “When I first arrived here, the community welcomed me and encouraged me to come back year after year.

“Whenever I think about my career, I think the Canberra Cavalry first and then everything else. My wife is also from here and it’s a great place to raise a family.

“It gives me a chance to do something good in this community, off the mound.”

Diverse Baseball Canberra’s specific focus is around engaging Indigenous and disabled youth.

Speaking after he ran a free baseball clinic at MIT Ballpark on Wednesday (7 July), Grening said his goal is to engage groups from all cultures, genders, and abilities through the sport of baseball, a sentiment further reinforced by news of the Cav’s bid for a women’s ABL team.

“We are really targeting the female side of baseball because the ABL is pushing for a female league next year,” he said. “This is a huge priority for me and the Canberra Cavalry.

“We also want to get a people with disability league going in Canberra. Another area where we haven’t branched out to as much as we would like is the Indigenous community and giving them a chance to play the game.

“It is a game that can be easily modified so it’s a great game for people in all walks of life. We are targetting everyone who hasn’t been exposed to the game before and we don’t want to exclude anyone and welcome everyone, just liked they welcomed me.”

Canberra basketball legend Cal Bruton (left) was a special guest at Wednesday’s clinic.

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