Softball: Wilson's loss is nation's gain

Travis Wilson says his return to the New Zealand softball team after close to a decade is a nice feeling "in one regard".

Canterbury's Wilson was named as an infielder in a Black Sox spring training squad of 25.

While his availability was good news for Black Sox head coach Eddie Kohlhase, it signalled an end to his dream of being the first New Zealander to play major league baseball in North America.

Signed by the Atlanta Braves organisation as a 19-year-old, Wilson spent eight years trying to break into baseball's major leagues, playing three years of Triple-A ball and going frustratingly close to being part of "The Show".

In 2001 he was the last player cut for the Braves' 25-man roster after recording a batting average of .415 at spring training.

Overall he played 841 games of regular season pro ball and had more than 3000 at-bats.

"It was pretty much writing on the wall for my baseball last year when I didn't get a job [after problems getting an international visa]," he said.

"I don't really have much choice. I mean, obviously my first preference would to still be playing baseball, but that's not possible.

So ... get back into the softball."

Wilson, 28, has just returned home after a northern summer playing softball for New York club team Patsy's.

The former Canterbury captain last played for the Black Sox when they won the 1996 world series in Midland, Michigan.

"It doesn't seem like that long ago," he said. "But once I got back and played softball again this off-season in the States it was like riding a bike again which was good."

Kohlhase said the Black Sox were keen to make use of all Wilson's experience and knowledge.

"Travis is a seasoned professional and he has been involved in professional sport for nearly a decade."

- NZPA

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