Happy Australia Day to Grant Balfour (and the handful of other Aussie MLB-ers)
Happy Australia Day, Grant Balfour!
Two hundred twenty-seven years ago, Governor Arthur Phillip landed on the shores of Australia and raised the Union Jack at Port Jackson. In the more than two and a quarter centuries since then, we've come to know Australia for kangaroos, Russell Crowe, Outback Steakhouse and Rays closer Grant Balfour.
You might be surprised to learn, though, that Balfour isn't the only Australian-born MLB player. Dozens of Aussies have suited up for MLB teams over the years and -- in 1895 and 1899 -- Joe Quinn managed the St. Louis Browns and the Cleveland Spiders, respectively. (He didn't fare so well, compiling a 23-132 record as a skipper.)
On the actual diamond, you're probably best-off starting with the exploits of catcher, outfielder and first baseman Dave Nilsson. Nilsson -- the only Aussie other than Balfour to make an All-Star appearance (1999) -- played eight seasons for the Brewers while maintaining a .284 average and belting 105 home runs.
Graeme Lloyd appeared in 568 games as an MLB pitcher from 1993 to 2003. His resume includes a 4.04 ERA, 30 wins, 17 saves and 175 games finished.
Before the Dodgers and Diamondbacks opened the 2014 season in Sydney, Nilsson and Lloyd threw out ceremonial first pitches:
Happy Australia Day to Balfour, Nilsson, Lloyd and the rest of MLB's Aussie contingency!