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American pitcher making waves in Australia

AAP logoAAP 8/12/2016 Melissa Woods

Unusual by name and by nature, American pitcher Mark Hamburger is making an impression on the Australian Baseball League.

The 29-year-old, who played in the Major League Baseball for the Texas Rangers, has been key to the Melbourne Aces' rise to the top of the ABL ladder.

Melbourne coach Jon Deeble, who also oversees the Australian team and has worked in professional baseball locally and in the US for 25 years, says he hasn't seen anyone like him.

And it's not just his pitching skills that have raised eyebrows.

"Number one he can play; he's an outstanding pitcher," Deeble said.

"But it's what he brings to our team just in culture - he's great to be around and he's always upbeat and happy - he's just a real cool dude."

Last weekend, Hamburger declined to ride the team bus to and from their Brisbane team hotel, preferring to ride his skateboard the five kilometres to the ball-park.

"He arrived in a lather of sweat with his John Lennon sunglasses on and his long hair all over the place and says, 'Hey boss, I'm ready to go'.

"And then he threw the game of his life - it's as good as I've seen in this league."

Deeble said the next morning Hamburger jumped in the swimming pool for their recovery session wearing his hotel dressing gown.

"He's a funny guy who keeps everyone loose and he's always out working with kids and signing autographs - he's the ultimate guy you want on your team."

Deeble said Hamburger could easily still be playing in the Triple A league, which is only a rung below the Major League.

The Los Angeles Dodgers, who Deeble also works for, were interested when he finished his Australian stint.

Originally from Minnesota, Hamburger said he hadn't thought too much about his playing future.

He had a trial last year with the World Championship-winning Chicago Cubs, which didn't come off and then he turned down a deal with Miami.

At the moment he said he was happy to split his time between baseball and surfing at Bells Beach.

"Do I see myself being in the Major League again, I do, but I don't know when that will be or in what circumstances," Hamburger said.

"I'm trying to live presently so I'd like to say that will be a future goal but I never know which way life is going to lead.

"I'm being given the opportunity to get better at my job and also experience a beautiful country and to live life.

"Baseball just gives me the opportunity to do so many other things."

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