New Zealand talent Brings Hope to a Struggling Team

First Baseman Scott Drinkwater, originally from New Zealand, played in the Baseball New Zealand Under-18 Youth Nationals 2012 Championship, and in Australia’s National Under-23 Baseball Championship. He is now playing for City College. Photo by Michael Long/Flickr

By Ivan Huang

The Guardsman


Losing season after losing season, City College baseball has been one of the most disappointing sports programs in the athletics department.

At the end of last season, they ranked last in the Coast Conference’s Golden Gate Division.

With an overall record of 29-81-1 (.263) and a conference record of 15-57 (.208) in the past three seasons, the Rams are looking to make a change in their recruitment by reaching out overseas for some of their talent.

Over the off season, head coach John Vanoncini reached out to a contact in Auckland, New Zealand—roughly 6543 miles overseas—and found 18-year-old freshman first baseman Scott Drinkwater.

“My baseball coach in New Zealand sent out a video to a few of his contacts that he met while playing professionally in America, and from there I was given a few offers from some other colleges around the country,” Drinkwater said. “But City College seemed to stand out, because it was in such a great city, and I knew that the Rams played in a very tough division, which would provide the perfect competition for me to improve as a player.”

From one coach to the next, a video was all it took for Vanoncini to be convinced that Drinkwater would fit right in with their squad.

“He contacted me via email [and] sent a video. I looked at the video and I contacted him back,” Vanoncini said.

As the start of the season approaches, Vanoncini is thrilled to have such a talented player as Drinkwater on this year’s team. Drinkwater is a player of international caliber who is merging his experience and skills with American baseball’s manner of play and philosophy.

“He’s doing very well, he has a lot of power,” Vanoncini said. “He’s adapting to the American game, which is a little faster for him, but he’s getting better at it and he’ll be a solid player for us.”

Six-foot-three and with 250 pounds of pure pop in his swing, the New Zealander’s love for baseball didn’t start in the country that is abundant in its exports of sheep, wool and lamb.

“I discovered baseball from my older brother when I was five,” Drinkwater said, “when my family moved to New Jersey for two years for my dad’s work. My brother started playing baseball and I used to go to every one of his games. From there I started watching the Yankees play and I just got hooked.”

What the power hitting first baseman brings to the table is his international experience.

“I have represented New Zealand in the under-13, under-15, under-16, under-18 and under-23 age group teams,” Drinkwater said. “I have traveled the world to places such as Taiwan, Hong Kong, Japan, America and Australia with the New Zealand teams.”

Drinkwater’s road to America was not an easy one. With finances being one of the problems heading into a new country, Drinkwater worked full time from the day after his high school graduation in order to pay his way to San Francisco.

“I worked for a transport company unloading trucks by hand and on a forklift from 5 a.m. till 2:30 p.m.,” Drinkwater said. “It was probably one of the hardest things I have ever done at the start because I was probably a lot lazier than I realized, and also training every day after work was difficult.”

While known for his great raw power on the field, Drinkwater is also known for his gentle side off the field.

“Scott is a great teammate, offers so much and asks for little in return,”  freshman catcher Ben Ladner said, and then jokingly added that it “must be the upbringing around sheep that makes him so caring.”

Those around Drinkwater are optimistic about the upcoming season.

“A lot of guys are working hard. We think we’re just one player or two players away,” City College Athletic Director Dan Hayes said.

Scott Drinkwater might just be that one player.

Follow Ivan on Twitter: @ivanreports

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