Baseball: 'Put an end to turf wars'

By Steve Deane

Beau Jordon Te Wera Bishop. Photo / Natalie Slade
Beau Jordon Te Wera Bishop. Photo / Natalie Slade

Beau Jordon Te Wera Bishop is the Rodney King of the baseball-softball turf war.

Rated New Zealand's best shot at breaking into Major League Baseball, the Boston Red Sox-contracted catcher had never even picked up a baseball 18 months ago.

Trumpeted by baseball as a shining example of what our young men can achieve if they switch to hard ball, the sweet-swinging 19-year-old is the one that got away as far as softball is concerned.

Bishop's message to the divided codes echoes that of the late King, whose beating at the hands of the Los Angeles Police Department sparked race riots in that city 21 years ago - can't we all just get along.

"There is still one side of the fence and the other, we just need to get over that, bust down any walls and try to work together to do the best thing for New Zealand athletes," Bishop says.

As he pursues his big league dream through baseball's gruelling minor league system, the Porirua teenager is contractually barred from playing softball, or any other organised sport.

He will not be playing for the Black Sox in March but that doesn't stop him hanging with his softball buddies and it doesn't stop them hoping his dream becomes a reality.

"Every single one of them is behind me," he says. "All my family, all my friends that I know through softball, they all want me to go as far as I can go. I still go down and watch the games and turn up to the trainings for the Porirua men's team. I'm still in and around softball, but I'm not allowed to play.

"We [he and brother Dave] were born with a softball bat and ball in our hands. I will always love softball and it will be my pastime after I finish baseball."

Having made the jump to baseball for a reported signing fee of US$60,000 ($73,000), Bishop will be a key figure for the Diamond Blacks during the World Baseball Classic qualifiers in Taiwan. He will then report to the Red Sox who will assign him to a minor league team where he can start his climb towards the majors.

"It's turned out pretty well. So many guys are trying to make the conversion to baseball now. It's going to be a sport where we have both sports playing together and, hopefully, one day, working together."

- NZ Herald

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