How far would you go?
For Breland Brown, a 26-year-old baseball player attempting to get into the Australian Baseball League, the answer seems to be pretty far.
In an effort to try and make it into the league, Brown impersonated players, administrators and agents. He essentially offered himself to the ABL in a package deal with Pirates outfielder Xavier Paul. He
created false documents and identification in an elaborate scheme of deception.
“This is a scam that has touched two leagues and two countries,” ABL national media and communications manager Terry Whitaker said. “It’s not just the ABL here, he’s also believed to have scammed Major League Baseball team officials and agents as well.”
This information came out two weeks into the ABL season when Paul was contacted by the league in an attempt to find out when he would be making his way from his home to the Brisbane Bandits in Australia. This, of course, was news to Paul, who had no plans to travel to Australia.
Brown, a native of Hahnville, La., played two years for Northeast Mississippi CC from 2003-05. He played overseas for at least part of his time after college, including a stint with the Solingen Alligators in Germany, before spending 2009 in the independent leagues, playing for New Hampshire (Can-Am) and Evansville (Frontier). He was signed by the Giants on Jan. 5, 2010, but San Francisco released him at the end of spring training. Brown signed with the Yankees the following December, but was released again in March before the regular season.
Brown finally got his shot when the Diamondbacks signed him on July 18. In 11 games with Rookie-level Yakima (Pioneer League), Brown went 6-for-35 (.171) with two doubles, 13 strikeouts and five walks. The Diamondbacks released him on Aug. 12.
Though disappointed Paul won’t be playing, the ABL sees it as a positive that someone would be so eager to join the league.
“It says something about the league that only in its second year that a player would be this desperate to try and break in . . . Just look at the number of players and the number of major leaguers that have played this year alone,” Whitaker said. “We’ve got nine Aussies who last year played in the majors, which is an Australian record. We’ve got the talent base and if you look at our talent from last year I think it has expanded. We’ve now got players from 11 countries playing in the league.”
While the Brisbane Bandits would have welcomed Paul, the team doesn’t seem to be having any trouble without him. In the second weekend of play, the Bandits won three games in their four-game set against the Sydney Blue Sox, landing them in second place in the league.