Ross Straw

ROSS STRAW (VIC)

Ross Straw

  • 1942-43 Victoria wartime team.
  • 1946-47, 1949-51, 1955, 1957, 1959-63 and 1965-69 Victoria State team.
  • 5 time Essendon Premiership Player, 55,56,61,65,66
  • 1948, 1952-53, 1956, 1962 and 1968-69 Australia team.
  • 1956 Australian Olympic team Captain / Coach.
  • 1957 Victoria State team Captain.
  • 1963 Victoria State team Captain / Coach.
  • 1968 Australian team Manager
  • 1968 Australia vs Japan first modern international tournament

(The ABF wishes to thank Joe Clarke, NSW Baseball Historian, for providing the above information.)

“For the Love of the Game”
Written by Don Knapp
Researched by John Anderson, Peter Dihm and Baseball Victoria
Spoken by Trevor Jarrett

Although a great admirer of Ross Straw the Baseball coach, player and administrator, I could not say I personally knew the man well until we had the opportunity to share quality time in Sydney prior to the 2000 Olympics.  The ABF organised a weekend reunion for the 1956 Olympic Baseball team that Ross had captained / coached.  All up, I managed to grab about four hours of the great man’s time in Sydney over dinner.

Never one to tell you about his achievements (he always remained sort of transfixed and in awe of the wonder of the game itself), it struck me as remarkable that much of what Australian Baseball is achieving today, in relation to elite youth development, professional player success and international competitiveness, mirrors the visions of Ross Straw back in the 1960s and 70s.  In his typically humble way, later in life Ross was simply chuffed to see the sport had come so far; he showed no desire to discuss his personal contributions whatsoever.

It was not until his passing that it brought me back into contact with former ABF and Victorian President John Anderson (who knew Ross so well) that I have been able to truly piece together a perspective about the massive contribution to our sport Ross Straw made in his lifetime.  In a sense, one can’t help but feel that to a significant degree, in the current era of baseball development we all ride on the coat-tails of much of Ross’ early work – a snapshot of which appears below:

  • A lifetime of contribution to Victorian club baseball coaching, playing and administration (Essendon – home club).
  • Represented Victorian State teams as a player or coach from 1946-69.
  • One of the first players (RHP) scouted and offered a contract by a US Major League Baseball Club, the Red Sox.
  • First Australian born professional scout.
  • Australian coach / captain 1956 Olympic Games.
  • First Australian coach to visit US Major League Baseball clubs for coach education in the 1960s.
  • Was the catalyst for the development of Ross Straw Field in Royal Park, Melbourne – the first dedicated ball field in Australia.
  • Was the Australian coach when Australia hosted its first Japanese team in Melbourne in 1968 (also played in Adelaide and Sydney).
  • Lead the way for Australia’s first invitation to participate in the highly competitive Baseball Federation of Asia tournaments.
  • First appointed national coaching director (appointed by what was then the Australian Baseball Council, now the ABF) in 1975 and formed Australia’s first ever national elite coaching committee.
  • Coordinated the famous Bob Shaw coaching / lecture tour of Australia in 1975.
  • Coordinated Australia’s first ever overseas AAA (18 and under) national team tour in 1976.

Ross established Australia’s first ever youth training and competition support networks in Florida with Major League Baseball clubs, high schools and colleges.  Many of these networks are still in place today, including the Georgia Southern University connection.

He secured the first ever Federation sports funding grant for youth baseball from the new formed Australian Department of Sport in 1976/77.

The collection of personal awards and honours that Ross was bestowed in his lifetime is too exhaustive to itemise herewith; to highlight them would also not be in keeping with Ross’ great humility and respect for the sport.  He did it all for the love of the game.

Please join us in thanking and acknowledging Ross Straw’s lifetime commitment and dedication to Australian Baseball and the people, young and old, who were fortunate enough to have known this wonderful man.

Elected to EBC Hall of Fame in 2013