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Gavin Neil Fingleson
- Bats Both, Throws Right
- Height 5' 10", Weight 183 lb.
Gavin Fingleson has played baseball in the USA, Taiwan and Australia. He has been named Australia's top Jewish athlete 3 times by Maccabi Australia.
Fingleson was born in South Africa but moved to Australia when he was 11 years old. He played for Australia's youth and junior national teams. He broke into league play during the 1994-1995 Australian Baseball League with the Canberra Bushrangers but the youngster only hit .167/.213/.279. Fingleson came to the US for college baseball. He hit .367 as a senior to rank 5th in the Southland Conference in 1998.
After college, Fingleson went into the independent leagues. In 1999, he tied for 5th in the Texas-Louisiana League with a .350 average for the Bayou Bullfrogs. In the 1999-2000 International Baseball League of Australia, Gavin hit .386/.426/.432. Had he qualified, he would have led the IBLA in average; he made the All-Star team as the top DH.
In 2000, Fingleson hit .348 for the Catskill Cougars, placing him 4th in the eastern division of the Northern League. The Cougars were loaded with Australians as teammates included Greg Jelks, Adam Burton and Brendan Kingman. In the 2000-2001 IBLA, he batted .314/.337/.404 to finish 4th in average and 3rd in hits (49); only A.J. Zapp, Travis Wilson and Glenn Williams had better batting averages. He struck out in only 9 of 156 AB, the lowest rate in the circuit. He again made the league All-Star team at DH.
The Johannesburg native hit .298 for the 2001 St. Paul Saints. He then came to Taiwan to play for the Chianan Braves, hitting .369/.407/.505 in 26 games. Had he qualified, he would have edged Kun-Han Lin by .001 for the batting crown. In the 2001 Baseball World Cup, Fingleson batted .269/.321/.308 as Australia's primary second baseman. After starting 2002 5 for 41 for Chiayi, he was let go by the Braves. He was on the Australian team that won the 2003 Oceania Championship.
Fingleson went 12 for 29 with 5 doubles, 3 walks, 5 runs and 7 RBI for the New South Wales Patriots in the 2004 Claxton Shield. He tied for the most hits and extra-base hits and made the All-Star team at second base. He then signed with the New Haven County Cutters and hit .299 in 37 games.
Fingleson played for Australia in the 2004 Olympics, batting .351/.385/.432 with 9 RBI in 9 games as their main second baseman. He ranked among the Olympic leaders in hits (13, tied with Brett Roneberg for 5th behind Shinya Miyamoto, Ariel Pestano, Frederich Cepeda and Kenji Johjima) and RBI (tied with Rodney van Buizen and Eriel Sanchez for 3rd behind Pestano and Kosuke Fukudome). As the leadoff man for Australia in the Gold Medal game, he went 2 for 4 with a walk in a 6-2 loss to the Cuban national team, outperforming the Australian major leaguers, Dave Nilsson and Glenn Williams. He tried to start a rally in the 9th with a single off Adiel Palma; Roneberg also singled but Nilsson, Williams and Brendan Kingman came up empty to strand the two runners. Australia's Silver Medal was arguably the biggest highlight of baseball history in the country.
In the 2005 Claxton Shield, the 28-year-old hit .259/.286/.296. Fingleson slumped to .231/.259/.269 as Australia's second sacker in the 2005 Baseball World Cup. During the 2006 Claxton Shield tournament, he batted .391/.481/.435 with six runs in six games.
In the 2006 World Baseball Classic, Fingleson went one for five. In a 10-0 loss to Italy, he pinch-hit for Andrew Graham and grounded out against Riccardo de Santis in his lone at-bat. He also appeared in the 6-4 loss to the Dominican national team. He singled against Daniel Cabrera in the first to set up Australia's first run but Alberto Castillo threw him out stealing later in the inning. Against Cabrera in the third, he ground into a double play to erase Luke Hughes. He reached on a Cabrera error in the 5th and scored on a Brendan Kingman single. Finally, he fanned against Robinson Tejeda in the 8th inning. In the 2006 Intercontinental Cup, Fingleson hit just .172/.294/.207 in 9 games for Australia as a 2B/LF.
The veteran batted .370/.500/.519 with 7 walks in 8 games for New South Wales in the 2007 Claxton Shield. In the 2007 Baseball World Cup, Gavin hit .286/.375/.500 with 5 runs and 5 RBI in 5 games; he played third base (2 games), first base (one game) and pinch-hit (2 games). He helped Australia rally to beat the Dutch national team - down 3-2 in the 9th with one on and none out against Michiel van Kampen, he reached on a Mike Duursma error and later scored on a Trent Oeltjen double for the game-winner. He had 3 doubles and 5 RBI in a 26-0 rout of the Thai national team as Australia set a Baseball World Cup record for runs scored. Fingleson also pitched - with the game well in hand after 3, he tossed the 4th through 6th innings, allowing one run on 4 hits and picking up an unusual win by a position player in a World Cup.
Fingleson hit only .234/.288/.298 in the 2008 Claxton Shield. In the finale, he got New South Wales' lone hit off of Mark Kelly as they went down to defeat.