Tom Chapman - 6 October 2013
The Essendon Golddiggers are one of a few teams that have been competing at the Australian Masters Games since they began.
The baseball team was founded by 63-year-old John Pate, and with the assistance of David Patton (54), it has gone from strength to strength since its inception.
Pate began the Golddiggers as a one-off team back in 1991 but they turned out to be much more successful than they anticipated. But as Patton explains, the club would not have got where it is today if it were not for Pate.
“John’s been involved with the Essendon baseball club for about 55 years now, ever since he emigrated from Japan,” Patton said.
“He founded the Golddiggers, and from one team it turned in to two teams, then two divisions and it just kept on growing. The current team is a group of about 20 blokes who come in and out depending on their availability, but essentially it’s been the same team since we started.
“The great thing with the Games is we might not see each other for six months or even a year, but as soon as it comes time to play baseball again, everyone just gels.”
Patton credited the friendly environment of the Games as a whole for their continual presence in the competition - one in which they’ve been quite dominant, including winning the baseball tournament in last edition in Adelaide.
“There are no pretences at the Games,” Patton said.
“We’ve all learnt we aren’t as young as we once were, so the running between bases is a bit slower and the runs come less frequently, but we all have so much fun it doesn’t matter.
“And it doesn’t matter if we turn up a bit groggy on some mornings so we make sure we enjoy all the events the Games have to offer.”
Patton also said it wasn’t just catching up with old friends from his own sport, but seeing familiar faces year after year from other sports.
The Australian Masters Games will be staged until Saturday 12 October and is one of Australia’s largest multi sporting events.
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