By Jordie Lindley
Big 12 Campus Correspondent
Baseball has always been America’s sport. But at Oklahoma State, South Australian Tyrone Hambly has given the sport something new.
Hambly, a senior third basemen, grew up in Adelaida, South Australia and started playing baseball when he was seven-years-old.
Growing up playing baseball in Australia is different than baseball in America according to Hambly.
Children in Australia start by playing T-ball on Sunday mornings.
“We played T-ball when we were like 5 or 6 years old but it was more of a get out of the house Sunday morning activity than anything else,” Hambly said. “Then you played for a club or you didn’t play at all. We had state leagues that would last for two weeks and have a state tournament.”
The club league that Hambly participated in was also different from most leagues in America because they were open leagues with no age restrictions.
“It was more of a social league, and it was open for the most part so I started playing when I was 16 and the oldest guy on the team was 40-years-old,” Hambly said. “The first thing we would do after we finished a game is go to the clubhouse and get a beer which is different from here.”
“It’s a little more professional over here, but it definitely gave me a taste of wanting to succeed in baseball, which is the main thing.”
Baseball isn’t the only difference that Hambly has noticed between Australia and Stillwater, Okla.
“I live on the beach back home so when I came here it was a lot different because I couldn’t go out to a beach whenever I wanted,” said Hambly, who was on the surfing team in high school. “In winter it gets a little tough because it can get pretty cold here.”
Hambly had never considered playing college baseball, let alone travel to the U.S. to do it. Then one day he received a random phone call.
“(Oklahoma State assistant coach) Greg Evans found me,” Hambly said. “He called me out of the blue one day. I didn’t know the difference between OSU and a junior college in Texas so I had to do a little bit of research myself.”
Hambly spent the 2006 and 2007 seasons at Grayson County (Texas) Community College before transferring to Oklahoma State before his junior season.
Evans made several phone calls over a few months to convince Hambly to take the plunge. Hambly's research on Oklahoma State helped convince him to leave his homeland for a trans-Pacific Ocean adventure.
“I liked the size of the school, the size of the baseball program, and it wasn’t hard to find out that the Big 12 was the place to be sports wise and baseball wise,” Hambly said. "It's probably the best decision I've made."
And when Hambly read about the Bedlam Series rivalry with Oklahoma, he was hooked.
“I heard that I would be playing in a Bedlam game in front of 16,000 people and that kind of grabbed my attention since I had only played in front of a couple hundred people,” Hambly said.
Coming to America, though, still can have its challenges.
“The hardest thing is getting a visa to get into the country,” Hambly said. Since (9-11) it has been a lot harder to get in. It wasn’t the toughest thing for me coming from Australia, but it is still a hectic process for anyone coming into the states.”
Hambly knew it would be hard to be so far away from home, but he quickly found a support system with the team.
“It’s a group of guys that you get to see everyday and you have no choice but to get to know them which is a good thing,” Hambly said. “You go through highs and you go through lows, but at the end of the day everyone is still together on the same team. You get good friends here.”
Along with the baseball team, Hambly also discovered the International Students program at OSU and quickly felt at home.
“It’s easy to get comfortable here,” Hambly said. “There is a pretty big international program here and it’s easy to fit in.”
Although he has a good support system, Hambly still misses home from time to time.
“I see my parents once a year if I go home for Christmas or summer,” Hambly said. “If we do get a couple of days off I see other guys get to go home for a couple of days and that is kind of hard because I know that I can’t.”
As a junior, Hambly started 53 of 58 games. He opened the season as the Cowboys' second baseman before moving to third base. This season, Hambly is hitting .330 with seven home runs and 34 RBI through Oklahoma State's first 48 games.
As his college career winds down, Hambly is excited about something new. For the first time in his career here at OSU, his parents are planning on coming to see him play if OSU makes it to the NCAA regionals.