Baseball is a team sport. Nine players on the field and they all have their part to play. But when the chips are down and the stakes are high, all eyes go to the person standing on the mound, ready to pitch that next crucial ball. Most of us shy away from that kind of pressure, but not Josh McDonald. At just nineteen years old, he has his sights firmly set on a career in professional baseball in the US.
I spoke with Josh just days before he was due to fly out, heading for Arizona Western College and a 2-year baseball scholarship. It’s the culmination of more than eight months’ worth of paperwork, including visas, vaccinations, Letters of Intent from the College, and travel exemptions (Josh is one of the few Australians allowed out of the country in this extraordinary time). And paperwork aside, it is in fact the end result of years’ worth of hard work and determination, under the proud and encouraging eye of his father.
Josh came to Police Legacy eight years ago, when his mother Detective Sergeant Gabrielle McDonald died. Already focussed on his baseball career, he didn’t have time to go on the adventure camps on offer, but he does have fond memories of the daytrips he was able to attend, and the sense of camaraderie amongst kids his age with similar life experiences. And there is no doubt he shares a sense of determination that so many of our young legatees have.
Josh pitching at the Qld Schools Competition in early 2020
He came to baseball through cricket, which he played at the local club when the family lived in Newcastle. Then it became “cricket in the summer, baseball in the winter”, and soon it was all baseball all the time. It’s the passion now, and something he sees himself focussed on for the rest of his life – a drive he got from both of his parents, who always encouraged him. There aren’t many Australians in major league baseball, but more than you might think. This year there are “about ten” young Australians heading over to the US like Josh, one of them also from Queensland, also going to Arizona Western. Josh seems pleased to have a mate to share the experience with, but I suspect he’d take the whole thing in his stride regardless.
I almost don’t ask about whether he has other plans for the future, not wanting to dampen his enthusiasm, but there’s no hesitation in his reply. “You want to focus on Plan A, but you gotta have a backup plan in case that doesn’t work out,” he says. He studied business in high school, and that’s what he’s planning to study at College. (We can’t take any credit for Josh’s baseball prowess, but our education grants would have helped him through high school, and he was also awarded the Sean Burns Scholarship for sporting excellence in 2016 & 2017.)
In the meantime, though, Josh has a one-way ticket booked. “I don’t know when I’m coming back,” he tells me cheerily. There’s two years locked in at Arizona Western, then a possible transfer to another college for two years, and then onwards and upwards from there. There are, no doubt, all sorts of big things in this young man’s future, and we know that everyone in the Police Family will be watching with interest as his star rises in the West!