Baseball Australia boss guarantees future of Australian Baseball League

Baseball Australia chief executive Brett Pickett says the Australian Baseball League will go ahead next season, but admits Major League Baseball is looking to reduce its majority ownership of the competition.

Fans have voiced fears this season could be the last one, with the ABL yet to appoint a new chief executive following Peter Wermuth's sacking before the season started.

Carrying on: The ABL will continue next summer, despite rumours to the contrary.
Carrying on: The ABL will continue next summer, despite rumours to the contrary. Photo: Rohan Thomson

The ABL previously ran from 1989-1999 before folding and being replaced by the International Baseball League of Australia, which only lasted until 2002.

But the ABL was reborn six years ago when the MLB and Baseball Australia joined forces to set up the league.

Pickett said the ABL would have a seventh season in 2016-17.

"There's no indications or signs that it won't. Major League Baseball nor Baseball Australia have said by this date 'we're no longer involved', it's an ongoing relationship into perpetuity and I see no reason why the Australian Baseball League won't exist next year," he told Fairfax Media on Friday.


"The ABL in some form or other will happen next year."

But Pickett said the MLB was looking to reduce its 75 per cent ownership - Baseball Australia owns the other 25 - although they would remain as minority partners.

He said Baseball Australia would look to maintain its involvement and the search was on for other investors to come on board, with parties in North America, Asia and Australia having already been spoken to.

Pickett said there was no time frame for when the MLB wanted to reduce their stake by.

The MLB is not only a financial stakeholder, but it also provides much-needed playing talent.

Its affiliated clubs have sent players to Australia to further their development, with Canberra Cavalry players such as Didi Gregorius (New York Yankees) and Kevin Kiermaier (Tampa Bay Rays) having gone on to play in the Major Leagues.

"It's no secret that Major League Baseball have expressed their interest and desire in remaining involved in the Australian Baseball League, but they want to do so on a minority shareholding level," Pickett said.

"So rather than own 75 per cent of the league, they want to own a smaller sharing of that.

"Baseball Australia's commitment hasn't changed - the ABL is a primary driver of both profile and membership for our sport so it's critical and underpins all our imperatives.

"So Baseball Australia and MLB are in the process of trying to find some fresh capital partners that want to inject both capability and resources into the league to accelerate its growth."

Geoff Hooker has been the acting ABL boss since Wermuth's departure in October.

Pickett said the search for new partners had taken precedence over the search for a chief executive and Hooker would remain in the role until new investors were found.

The Canberra Cavalry will play the third game of their series against the Adelaide Bite at Norwood on Saturday at 7.30pm.