Shane Tonkin

From BR Bullpen

Shane Tonkin

  • Bats Right, Throws Right
  • Height 6' 4", Weight 209 lb.

Shane Tonkin pitched in three different continents but never made it to the Western Hemisphere, the heart of baseball. Tonkin played for Australia in the Olympics, was active for years in Australia and also pitched in Taiwan and Italy.

1991-1998: Australia and international competitions[edit]

Tonkin debuted in the 1991-1992 Australian Baseball League and was 1-1 with a 6.75 ERA in four starts for the Perth Heat. He improved to 2-2 with two saves and a 3.28 ERA for the 1992-1993 Heat. He joined the Australian national team for the 1993 Asian Championship. He was 1-1 with a 5.23 ERA in the 1993 Intercontinental Cup.

In the 1993-1994 Australian Baseball League, the big right-hander went 7-3 with two saves and a 4.31 ERA as a swingman, finishing sixth in the ABL in wins. He allowed 3 runs in 8 1/3 IP over four appearances in the 1994 Baseball World Cup; only Ross Jones pitched more games for the team. Tonkin fell to 4-3, 6.41 in 1994-1995 with four saves. In the 1995-1996 Australian Baseball League, Tonkin was 2-2 with 3 saves and a 4.18 ERA. He was the top Australian hurler in the 1996 Olympics with a 2.31 ERA. He won a game against South Korea and set up Jeff Williams' victory over Japan; those were the only games the Aussies won that year.

Tonkin was 3-3 with two saves and a 4.25 ERA in the 1996-1997 Australian Baseball League. He entered the final playoff game with a 4-0 deficit in the 4th inning but held the Brisbane Bandits to one run and two hits over the final 5 1/3 IP for the win to give Perth its first title. Brisbane featured Dave Nilsson, Brett Roneberg and Grant McDonald.

Tonkin was 1-0 with a 2.61 ERA in the 1997 Intercontinental Cup to help Australia win Silver.

In 1997-1998, Tonkin was used as a starter primarily but struggled, going 2-6 with a 7.71 ERA. In 56 innings, he allowed 82 hits, 26 walks and 13 homers. He tied for second in the ABL in losses, one behind Craig Anderson. His struggles continued in the 1998 Baseball World Cup, as he was 0-2 with a 9.82 ERA in three relief stints, taking half of the team's losses despite being next-to-last in innings pitched.

1999-2000: Taiwan and Australia[edit]

Tonkin pitched for a 17-28 Perth club in 1998-1999 but still saved 9 games to tie Graham Cassel for the league lead. His 24 appearances tied Cam Cairncross for second behind Cassel, though his 1-7 record meant he tied for second in the league in losses as well. He allowed a league-high 57 runs but his ERA was 5.40 as many were unearned.

In the history of the ABL, Tonkin was 5th in games pitched (127), 4th in saves (22), 6th in losses (27), 16th in wins (22) and fifth in hits allowed (434).

The 28-year-old made his debut outside of Australia in 1999 with the Taipei Suns of the Taiwan Major League and did an excellent job. He was only 7-7 with 4 saves for a 48-33 club that won the regular season, but he only allowed 139 hits in 171 2/3 IP and his 2.73 ERA was second in the TML. Only Hisanobu Watanabe had a lower ERA and Tonkin beat out Ming-Chieh Hsu, the top Taiwan native in the league, as well as former major leaguers like Don August and Mark Ettles.

When the International Baseball League of Australia was formed in 1999-2000, Tonkin was 0-1 with four saves and a 0.87 ERA for the Western Heelers. He led the IBLA in saves and was the second-team All-Star relief pitcher. He was effective in the postseason as the Heelers took the title. In Taiwan in 2000, Shane again finished second in the TML in ERA. He was 3-7 with 15 saves and a 2.31 ERA for Taipei, which claimed the title. Tonkin was second to only Takehiro Ishii om ERA, beating out Watanabe for second-place. He led the Taiwan Major League in saves that season for his second save title in a one-year span. Tonkin was still left off of Australia's roster for the 2000 Olympics.

2001-2003: Italy, Australia, one last World Cup[edit]

In 2001, Tonkin made his final appearance with the Australian national team. He was 0-1 with a 4.32 ERA in the 2001 Baseball World Cup. That year, Shane pitched in Serie A1 in Italy, going 3-2 with a 3.64 ERA for Cantine Ceci Parma.

Tonkin starred in the 2002 Claxton Shield for Western Australia. He saved their first game, then had a 1-0 shutout over New South Wales. Three days later, he started the Grand Final game against Victoria and had the lead for 6 2/3 IP before Victoria rallied to win later in the game. Tonkin was named the Pitcher of the Year for the Claxton Shield that season.

Back in Italy, Tonkin had an Australian catcher, former Dodgers farmhand Gavin Edmonson. Tonkin was 10-8 with a 2.11 ERA, finishing fourth in Serie A1 in ERA and tied for third in wins. He allowed four runs in nine innings in a loss in the playoffs.

In the 2003 Claxton Shield, Tonkin tossed a four-hit complete game win in Western Australia's opener, then notched a save in his next appearance before taking the loss in the semifinals. In his last season in Italy, the right-hander was 5-4 with 5 saves and a 2.97 ERA for Telemarket Rimini to finish 10th in Serie A1 in wins.

2004-2005: Winding down[edit]

The veteran was 0-1 with a 1.42 ERA in the 2004 Claxton Shield, taking a game one loss for Western Australia and followed by going 1-0 with a 2.57 ERA in the 2005 event. Tonkin would have been on pace to pitch in the finale had his club not lost in the semifinals.

Career Statistics[edit]

Tonkin was 18-15 with 5 saves and a 2.65 ERA in 45 games in Serie A1 and 10-14 with 19 saves and a 2.58 ERA in 74 games in the Taiwan Major League. In 143 games in Australian leagues, he was 25-30 with 28 saves and a 4.76 ERA. Through 2007, he ranked fifth in Australian history in games pitched, 6th in innings (418), tied for third in losses, fourth in saves, 13th in wins, 5th in hits allowed (488), 6th in runs allowed (274), 7th in earned runs (221), 5th in homers allowed (54), 9th in walks (132), 14th in strikeouts (223), 4th in wild pitches (22), tied for 12th in hit batsmen (13) and 14th in starts (45).

Post-Playing Career[edit]

As of 2022, he was GM of Commercial and Marketing for Baseball Australia.