James hits home run
By TONY WHITE
GRAFTON teenage baseball star James Linger has been selected for the Australian Under-17 baseball team to contest the World Series in Mexico later this month.
The 14-year-old Year 9 McAuley College student has spent the past fortnight at the American Major League Baseball sponsored, Australian Baseball Academy based at Palm Meadows in Queensland.
Linger is the youngest member of the 28-man Australian Under-17 squad housed at the Academy preparing for the World Series in Mexico. The team departs on Monday.
At the Academy the young players were also under the scrutiny of American talent scouts seeking future stars to join the elite and lucrative American League.
"James was the youngest at the Academy and one boy was offered US$278,000 to sign with the Atlanta Braves," Linger's father Mark said. "They train fulltime from 8am to 4.30pm then do schoolwork from 4.30pm until 8.30 pm.
"It's pretty full on.
"It's been a hectic couple of weeks for James. He's really excited but a bit nervous.
"I don't think all this has sunk in yet. It should be a wonderful experience."
Contesting the World Series against the world's best nations is by invitation only.
"Australia come in at number three or four. We're ranked highly in junior baseball," Linger said.
Playing for Queensland James, a batter, won selection in the Australian squad after leading the national Under-16 averages in batting following the Australian Titles in Lismore during January.
Mark Linger, a former Australian national player, is understandably proud of his son James and 17-year-older brother Matt's achievements.
Matt, who plays first grade baseball with Norths in Lismore, is also a member of the Queensland Under-18 squad heading to the Australian titles in Geelong, Victoria, later this year.
"James has done very well for himself, particularly for a country boy from Grafton," Mark Linger said. "We don't have the facilities available here that other players have being members of Academies in West Australia, South Australian and Queensland.
"We just train in the local park."
James long hours of travelling and training, his dedication and burgeoning ability could one day lead to every baseballer's dream and the ultimate home run a contract with an American Major League Baseball franchise.