PERTH pitching coach Graeme Lloyd has achieved plenty as a player and coach, but he wants more titles at the Heat. SMP Images.
PERTH pitching coach Graeme Lloyd has achieved plenty as a player and coach, but he wants more titles at the Heat. SMP Images.

Graeme Lloyd hungry for more success at Perth Heat

GRAEME Lloyd has done it all in the sport of baseball.

The former pitcher won two World Series with the biggest team in the Big Show - the New York Yankees.

He was a key pillar in one of the biggest fairytale stories of the Olympics - Team Australia - winning a silver medal at Athens in 2004.

And he and David Nilsson are the only two baseball players to be inducted into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame.

Lloyd has also been the Heat's pitching coach in all three of its Australian Baseball League-era title victories.

Despite all this success, at 47, the legendary Aussie baseball pioneer who appeared in 568 Major League games, with an earned run average of 4.04, is hungrier than ever to lead the Heat to more silverware.

Here, Lloyd looks back at his amazing career ...

Making the Australian Sport Hall of Fame in 2013 - how much of an honour was that for you?

"It was huge. It's the biggest honour in Australian sport, not just baseball.

"Dave Nilsson gave me the medal on the stage which was really cool. It was a great honour.

"Dawn Fraser gave me a different medal. To be inducted into that was a tremendous experience."

Being part of an Australian team that won silver at the 2004 Athens Olympics and shocked the baseball world - what was that like?

"That was right up there with winning a World Series. It was a different and great experience doing it with Australian players."

Those two World Series you won were alongside Yankees legends Mariano Rivera and Derek Jeter?

"Yeah. I say one of my biggest claims to fame was I relieved Mariano in game four of the World Series.

"I don't know too many people who have relieved him.

"He and Derek were there from '96 onwards. It was great to play with those guys - they are true professionals and even better human beings."

Being a part of the biggest team in baseball and winning two World Series with them - do you still pinch yourself even now?

"I still get chills thinking about the times I had there. To be there when we won championships was amazing. It's the pinnacle of sport.

"To do it in New York, I don't think there's a better place to do it."

You've been back to play Old Timers games at the Yankees with greats like Yogi Berra on hand ...

"Yeah, I've been back there the past four or five years with all the old timers.

"I get to pitch to a couple of guys. I actually hit Johnny Damon in the back this year.

"They all laughed and he said 'what was that for?' and I said, 'well you used to play for Boston'.

"He had a good laugh about it and stayed in there, then he hit the ball off the wall for a double.

"It's all fun and games, and it happens before a real game.

"Goose Gossage and Tino Martinez were also inducted into the Hall of Fame beforehand and they had plaques put up in Yankee Stadium, so it was a really big experience."

To be known as an Aussie baseball pioneer and to be honoured during the MLB Opening Series in Sydney last year must have been another massive thrill ...

"That was just tremendous. Words don't even get close to describing how I felt there.

"To be with the other Aussies that made the big leagues, and seeing a video of every one of us playing in the big leagues, it was just tremendous to see all the Aussie guys that have pioneered playing baseball in America."

To play so many MLB games - what were the keys to your longevity?

"You have to stay healthy. I still had my surgeries here and there, but also doing the work you need to do to stay fit.

"One year I think I was in 84 games, so just getting ready for the games is a big part of it."

How strong is the belief among the Heat that you guys can defend your title this season?

"We've been fighting so hard this season. We try to get better every series, and we're starting to see some very positive things come out of this team.

"We just need to try and stay consistent."

The number of Aussie guys at this club seem to always contribute well ...

"Absolutely. We have Luke Hughes who played in the big leagues and Warwick Saupold played AA last year, and all the Kennelly brothers have been stalwarts of the Heat team for many, many years, and will be in the years to come I'm sure.

"There's still Josh and Sam coming through too. It's great to see the Aussie players contributing so well."

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