Not Goofing Around in the ABL: Bandits 1B David Sutherland

Sutherland at 1B

Towering over the plate at 6’6, the opposition are duly intimidated.  His name causes an eruption from what seems like his own personal cheer squad who attend every one of his games.  Puzzled looks are exchanged in the crowd; there is nothing ‘Goofy’ about this player’s presence.

Dubbed “one of the quietest players in the ABL with the loudest bat”, Brisbane Bandit’s first baseman and hearty hitter is 26-year-old David ‘Goofy’ Sutherland.

The childhood nickname originated from his first Queensland practice. “I was tall, skinny and uncoordinated. I went to make a throw and my cleat got caught in the loop of the lace on my other boot and I fell. The coach yelled, ‘Whoa, Goofy!’ and it stuck, but I’ve never had a problem with it.”

There is no “typical” Bandit, although if you had to pick a player that embodied the club’s values, Sutherland would be a good choice.  Management paints him as a reserved player with great control, who lets his bat do the talking.

Measuring his words carefully, this quiet achiever is truly humbled by the opportunity to play in the Australian League again, in front of his family and friends to whom he believes he owes his success.

The Brisbane born and bred lefty started out at five years old, “in my brother’s team for Mitchelton, which turned into Pine Hills a few years later. I played for Windsor for five years when Pine Hills didn’t have a grade and have been back at Pine Hills for six seasons.”

At 17, Sutherland was enrolled at the Australian Baseball Academy, which prepared him for the Claxton Shield Competition.  Shortly after, he made the transition to the offshore arena, gaining invaluable experience in the Los Angeles Dodgers organization. “I played across a lot of America and it was a great time in my life,” he says of his four-year stint.

Sutherland returned in 2008 to fight for the Claxon Shield again, in a performance that marked his development over a few short years.

When he isn’t sweating in Bandits black, Sutherland has no qualms running around for one of the Bandit’s major sponsors, Alderly Hire — the same as he has done for the last five years. “They can be long, tough days, but I like being outside and active.”

Sutherland at Bat

“It’s simple,” his co-worker Bob describes him. “He’s big, he’s tall and he can hit a ball.”

On the diamond, Sutherland has proved he is the right man for the job, already adding three home runs to the Bandits 2011–2012 repertoire.  Proving one of the most consistent performers this season, Sutherland currently stands in the ABL’s top ten in hits with 35 and batting average .310.

Additionally, Sutherland has driven in 18 runs and has a slugging percentage of .434 as well as breaking one of the first bats of season; proving nice guys don’t always finish last.

Besides beach-going and the occasional game of cricket, baseball rarely strays far from Sutherland’s mind.  His dedication to the game was highlighted when he sustained an injury against Perth Heath, fouling the ball onto his right leg.  Despite the pain, he quickly dusted himself off and continued.  Back on the field the next day, Sutherland was all smiles sporting a horrific bruise and swollen leg.

At the business end of the season, like most of the Bandits, Sutherland’s sights are set firmly on getting to the top four. “To make the playoffs we will have to play really well. We have to play great defence to back our pitching and hit as a team. Something we did really well against Canberra. If we can win every series, we will make the playoffs.”

If the final decision were in his hands, it will be third time lucky pulling on the Bandits uniform again for the 2012–2013 season.

Thus far he has eclipsed his final figures for the 2010 season in hits (34), homeruns (2), runs batted in (17) and is on pace to beat last season’s batting average (.298) and slugging percentage (.386) totals.  This loyal Bandit undoubtedly has more in store and will battle it out to the very end.  You’ve really got to watch out for the quiet ones.

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