Little leaguers 'big news', says proud dad
Prime Minister John Key has told United States media his son's team's appearance at an international little league baseball tournament is "big news back home".
Mr Key is at the Senior Little League World Series tournament watching his teenage son Max play at Bangor, Maine.
Mr Key travelled with wife Bronagh to the United States to support Max, an outfielder for the Bayside Westhaven team of Auckland.
His support for his son caught the attention of the local Bangor Daily News. He told the paper his son's team making the tournament was big news back home, and might spur growth in a sport that was already "growing reasonably rapidly".
"I think over time there's a chance baseball might be a much bigger sport relative to softball in New Zealand," he said.
“But competing with big sports like rugby I think is a long way down the road.” About 4000 people are involved in the sport in New Zealand and Baseball New Zealand said it was the "fastest growing summer team sport" in the country.
The Auckland little leaguers became the first New Zealand team to advance to a World Series in baseball by winning an Asia-Pacific qualifying competition in Guam last month.
The team's opening match in the US was delayed by the weather but when the pitches start flying the Kiwi boys are likely to face a tough assignment.
The Asia-Pacific representatives in the 10-team tournament for 13 to 16-year-olds have historically struggled, with a 10-win, 31-loss record.
The Dominion Post