Peter Moylan on Being from Sports-Mad Australia (Where He’s Not Famous)

Peter Moylan is known for being from Australia as much as anything. That and the tattoos and the fun-loving personality. The fact that he’s a pretty decent relief pitcher tends to get lost in the shuffle. It shouldn’t. The 38-year-old side-winder has just four career saves, but he’s 24-9 with a 3.00 ERA since debuting with the Atlanta Braves in 2006. This past season, he made a league-leading 79 appearances with the Kansas City Royals.

Moylan originally came over in 1996 when the Minnesota Twins signed him at the age of 17. That didn’t pan out. After two tumultuous years of Rookie ball, Moylan found himself back in Australia working day jobs. Unable to cut the mustard as a pitching prospect, he became a laborer, a glass installer, a pharmaceutical salesman. Baseball became more or less a hobby.

He turned the hobby into a second chance. Moylan attracted the attention of Atlanta scouts while pitching in the 2006 World Baseball Classic and was inked to a make-good contract. He did just that. Despite a plethora of surgeries — back, elbow, shoulder — he’s still wearing a big-league uniform a decade later. Does that mean he’s a household name down under? Not so much.


Moylan on making his mark in MLB: “Am I surprised I’m still playing? No, but I feel like I’m playing with house money. In everyone’s eyes, I was never going to be a guy who comes over here and goes very far. I was 27 when I was a rookie. I came out of the World Baseball Classic and it was more of ‘Let’s take a chance on this guy.’ The fact that I’ve turned that chance into an 11-year career… I’m really grateful.

“The first time I came over was kind of the same, but different. I’d been a two-way guy who hadn’t thrown that much — I’d also been a shortstop — and being 17 years old, they were hoping I’d grow into my body, I guess. I sort of did. For my first couple years of Rookie ball, my velocity got higher — I ended up somewhere between 88-91 — but after I went back home, then came over again, I dropped my arm angle down. For some reason, my velocity went way up. Now I’m older and it’s back down a bit.”

On not being famous in Australia: “There’s been publicity. There have been articles about me and I’m on TV every year when I go home. There are certain sports stations that want to interview me, and I’ll go on there and tell my story. But it’s not something people are reminded of on a daily basis. It’s not like over here.

“Am I well known? Not one bit. I can walk anywhere, any street, in any part of Australia, and not get recognized. If I was an Australian Rules football player, I would be. If I played in the NBA, a lot of people would recognize me. If was a good swimmer or played international soccer or even international hockey — not ice hockey, but field hockey — people would know me. Australia is sports mad, but not so much with baseball. That’s OK. I’m happy to just sit back and not be famous.”

On travel and being recognized: “I went to the World Baseball Classic [in Japan] this season, and a lot of reporters wanted to ask me questions. I think that’s because they knew I pitched in the big leagues. I’m not sure they really knew who I was beforehand. I was the guy from the big leagues who was coming over to pitch for Australia.

“I think I would be recognized instantly if I were to go to Japan now, but that’s mostly because of my the tattoos. It rarely happens here in the States. I’m not really recognized anywhere except maybe Atlanta and Kansas City. I’ve played in most of the cities, but just like back home, that doesn’t mean a lot of people know who I am.

“I haven’t played in as many places as you might think. I’ve missed a lot of the European tours. A lot of the Australia teams will go play Honkbal in the Netherlands, but I’m usually here. There’s a chance to play in the World Championships every year, but again, I’m usually over here. The Australian team plays all over the world, but for me it’s just been Mexico, Japan, Taiwan, the U.S., and Australia. Obviously Australia.”

David Laurila grew up in Michigan's Upper Peninsula and now writes about baseball from his home in Cambridge, Mass. He authored the Prospectus Q&A series at Baseball Prospectus from December 2006-May 2011 before being claimed off waivers by FanGraphs. He can be followed on Twitter @DavidLaurilaQA.

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4 years ago

“‘Allo, Blue.”

That’s how you greet an Aussie. Blue is short for true-blue Aussie.

4 years ago
Reply to  Jim

Haha…that is so wrong mate.
We greet people “bluey” if they have red hair…..because we like to laugh at ourselves.
We don’t use Allo…..that’s what the English use….
You can stick with g’day mate……that works.
I’m a season ticket holder of the Sydney blue sox….who play in the national league and we get 800-1000 people to a game in a city with 5 million people…
For some reason baseball just isn’t popular!
Peter Moylan can walk the streets and no one would say boo…