Dave Nilsson is widely accepted as a pioneer for Australian baseball. When he made his major league debut in 1992 he was game's first Australian big leaguer in over 90 years. The catcher/first baseman played eight very good seasons in Milwaukee, hitting .284/.356/.461 over 837 games, but his major league career came to an end on this day in 1999 when he became a free agent.
The story was that Nilsson wanted wanted to play for Australia in the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, but couldn't find a major league team that would allow him to leave for the games and instead played for Chunichi in Japan. He struggled mightily in Japan, though, and never again found a major league opportunity in the states.
He did, however, play for Australia again in the 2004 Olympics in Athens as part of their silver medal-winning team.
With help from the B-Ref Play Index, happy birthday today to:
- 2009 Brewer Braden Looper, who turns 38.
- 2002 Brewer Lenny Harris, who turns 48. We covered his birthday in this space last year.
- 1986-91 Brewer Mark Knudson, who turns 52.
- Columbus, Wisconsin native Frank Lange, who would have turned 129. Lange played four major league seasons with the 1910-13 White Sox.