Slow start didn't stop Phil making it to the Hall of Fame
FORMER Major League relieving pitcher and Australian representative Phil Stockman didn't make his first Queensland team until he was 17.
But the floodgates opened for him almost straight after that, signing his first professional contract six months later.
Stockman went on to play 10 Major League games for the Atlanta Braves, and he was honoured for that on Saturday night, after being inducted into the Queensland Baseball Hall of Fame in Brisbane.
Originally signed by the Arizona Diamondbacks, Stockman was a Texas League All-Star in 2003, while working as a starting pitcher for the El Paso Diablos.
The towering 2.03m hurler signed with the Braves as a six-year minor league free agent in 2006, and earned a mid-season promotion to the majors.
But in 2009 he was released due to injuries you wouldn't normally associate with pitchers - hamstring setbacks.
"When I was in the Major League I tore the hamstring off my pelvis. I did that twice. The second time, that was it," Stockman told APN.
"It was my landing leg, so all the pressure built up in one spot and just exploded. It was a weird one for a pitcher, especially seeing I never had any arm problems."
Despite having his top-league career cruelly cut short by injury, the Beenleigh State High School graduate has plenty to be proud about.
"It's crazy to think the first Queensland team I made I was 17 years old, and now here I am (in the Hall of Fame)," he said.
"It took me eight years in the minor leagues before I even cracked the major leagues. I had heaps of hurdles in between."
Stockman also excelled for the Australian team, part of the squad that won a famous silver medal at the 2004 Athens Olympics.
"I never made a Queensland team from under-14s to under-16s, for four straight years," he said.
"So it was a hard road, then I finally got some success, and then I made the Australian team. That was a big six to 12-month period for me.
"Seeing my mates doing well and I was sitting at home, that gave me the fire to do well and set goals."
Stockman, also a former Brisbane Bandits star, now wants to resume his involvement in that organisation as a pitching coach.
"I was lucky enough to be the pitching coach for the under-18 Queensland team that went away to the national championships in Canberra, in January, and we won the title," he said.
"It was great to be a part of that again. I was away from the game for three years, just to give myself a break.
"I helped out with the Bandits a bit as well, so it was good just getting my feet back in, and hopefully this year I can have a bigger role with them."