The Cavalry bench reacts to Aaron Sloan's home run. Photo: Jay Cronan
For ACT Baseball commissioner Theo Vassalakis the first game of the Australian Baseball League championship series was like "your only child and now it’s starting to grow up’’.
Vassalakis never expected to be watching the ABL championship series at Narrabundah "four or five years ago’’ and loved every minute of Canberra's 6-4 win over Perth in game one at Narrabundah Ballpark on Friday night.
"This has been such a long dream for us and in our wildest dreams in Canberra we’d sell out two games before a ball’s even pitched is just incredible, and looking at the ballpark it’s just amazing,’’ said Vassalakis with a smile almost permanently engraved on his face and tears of joy not far away.
The crowd enjoys Friday's game at The Fort. Photo: Jay Cronan
"As corny as it is, I keep on thinking about Field of Dreams, the movie - 'If you build it they will come' - and that’s how I felt as I was walking up here.
"And I think we’re only 40 per cent of the way to where we want to be. We can double our fan base in four or five years’ time.’’
He said it was especially pleasing since Canberra was never even in the Australian Baseball Federation’s plans for a reborn ABL.
Rumours emerged "eight or nine years ago’’ of the venture, with Geelong and the Gold Coast the preferred cities.
It took hours of work by Vassalakis and his friends to convince the ABF otherwise.
But they did and the 'Let’s Do It Canberra' campaign was born, with pledges needed from fans as the final proof.
"When we had all the naysayers, Australia-wide and even in our own community, and then to be vindicated, our vision and believing in our sport ... seeing this final it’s all worth it,’’ Vassalakis said.
"Money can’t buy this.’’
Now there’s just one thing left – for Canberra to win it.
It was a thought Vassalakis did and didn’t want to have.
"It would just be the icing on the cake,’’ he said.
"I don’t want to want it too bad in case I get disappointed, but I do want it that bad that we win it.
"It would just top it off that within three years we built a championship side. These guys out here deserve it, the way they’ve played all year it would be kind of an injustice if we don’t win it.
"But you never know what happens in sport, Perth’s a great side.’’
Game two starts at Narrabundah Ballpark at 7pm on Saturday. It’s another sell-out.