With his affable personality and eephus pitch, Josh Collmenter was well-liked by Diamondbacks fans.
Released by the D-backs in August 2016, Collmenter bounced around the MLB, but for the last few months, the Homer, Michigan, native has been helping New Zealanders learn about baseball.
In 2018, Collmenter was added to the New Zealand national baseball team U15 development squad as pitching coach. By August, the Arcadia resident became the first player signed by the Auckland Tuatara, an expansion team of the Australian Baseball League for the 2018-19 season.
“It’s been a good mix of guys, not just from Australia and New Zealand, but Japan, Taiwan and China even,” Collmenter says via telephone from New Zealand, affectionately known as “enzed” in the country. “Zed” is another way of pronouncing Z.
“You get perspective from everybody and what they grew up doing and how baseball differs a little bit. Baseball makes it a small world.”
Different, but the same. There’s a language barrier, he admits, but signals and such cross the cultural lines.
“If you throw us all on a baseball diamond, we all work,” he says.
Collmenter, who played with the D-backs when they took on the Dodgers in Australia, found his way to the land of the Kiwis through an Australian Baseball League executive who visited Phoenix.
“He came over here to work with a few Major League teams to see if they wanted to send players,” Collmenter says. “He laid out what they were doing. The season is only 10 weeks, so it was a good fit. It’s nothing too strenuous and it ends right before Spring Training.”
The league had a handful of teams and recently added two, including the Auckland Tuatara, who played three weeks in New Zealand before traveling to Australia. The experience has allowed Collmenter to make his mark overseas and is hoping to parlay this into a return to the Major League.
“It gives me a chance to get ready just in case something happens for Spring Training,” says Collmenter, whose infamous eephus pitch (a very low-speed junk pitch) was captured by YouTube.
“It’s designed that way because it’s their summer. A handful of minor leaguers play in it to tune up for Spring Training, too.”
Collmenter is pleased to hear he’s still a favorite around town.
“I hear that a lot, so that must mean I did something right when I was there,” he says with a laugh. “I’ve enjoyed my time there in Arizona. I’m glad I made an effect on people.”