By Dylan Moran
How would it feel to sign a contract with one of the biggest sports franchises in the world despite never playing their game?
Te Wera ‘Beau’ Bishop is one person who could tell you – though he’s still a little lost for words, so can’t really elaborate.
“It feels cool, it’s exciting, great,” he says.
The 17-year-old has today signed a seven year, six figure contract with the Boston Red Sox. Without ever playing a game of baseball.
He’s grown up with softball though, and says the transition is made easier as both sports have similarities.
Beau grew up in Porirua, and went to Aotea College, but in exactly three weeks he’ll be jetting off to Florida to meet up with his new team mates and coaches.
It’s impossible to overstate how excited he is, every time he’s reminded he’s now on the roster of the Red Sox, or heading to the US, he smiles. But when you remind him that he’s the first New Zealander signed to the team, he puffs out his chest and you can feel the pride emanate from him.
“To be the first New Zealander, ah New Zealand Maori, is a real honour for me, it’s a real privilege,” he says.
Bishop was noticed by Red Sox scouting co-ordinator Jon Deeble – who just happens to be the Australian national coach – while his little brother was playing at the recent Under-16 champs.
“The scouts seen me play softball, and I just happened to be up watching my little brother play for the NZ Under-16 baseball team, they were playing Australia and Jon Deebles the scout just happened to walk by and he saw me playing throws and he asked who I was and that’s where it started from there,” Bishop says.
“It was just a coincidence really, that he ended up seeing me, and now he’s giving me the opportunity to play.”
Deeble doesn’t deny this series of events, but says he’d been researching Bishop for a while beforehand – so it wasn’t so much a coincidence as destiny.
“I knew who he was and I’d read a lot about him, I’d seen video of him, and I wanted to see him while he was over here,” Deeble says.
And he knows how to scout players – as the Pacific coordinator of scouting for the Red Sox he’s signed Hideki Okajima and Daisuke Matsuzaka, pitchers who’ve remained a staple of the franchise since 2007.
Beau can kiss goodbye to the easy life – once he gets to Florida it will be baseball, baseball, baseball, with no end in sight. He’ll wake up to baseball, play baseball all day, then go to sleep analysing baseball.
“He’ll join up with the Maori kids we got from Newcastle, he’ll fly over with them, they’ll look after him, he’ll stay there, Spring training will finish April, he’ll stay there for what we call extended spring training, and he’ll come home here in June for probably two or three weeks, then he’ll come to the Australian Academy, hopefully we’ll get him forty games in there, and then he will, depending on his progress is whether we’ll take him back to Boston,” says Deeble.
Not a bad alternative though, considering before Deeble came along Beau was looking at becoming a builder.
Now he’s looking to smash home runs, and build the sport in NZ.