Baseball: Andrew 'Pinky' Marck's Tuatara stint a lifetime in the making

For Auckland Tuatara first baseman Andrew Marck, professional baseball in New Zealand has been a lifetime in the making.

Marck was only five years old the first time he put on a mitt and immediately fell in love with a game that would become a big part of his life.

The 29-year-old owns and runs 'The Fieldhouse' batting cage in Pakuranga Heights in east Auckland - a location where the next generation of aspiring Kiwi baseballers can learn their trade.

Marck never thought he would see the birth of a professional club in New Zealand, but he is enjoying every moment.

"I started playing baseball when I was five and there would have only been about 100 of us at that stage," Marck told Newshub.

"I have seen the sport grow from nothing into what it is now. If you had asked me 10 years ago if this was possible, I would have said no, so it's truly incredible what is happening here."

But 'Pinky', as he is known by his teammates, had to make a career-changing decision just to make the Tuatara's inaugural roster.

A three-time New Zealand national club championship MVP, Marck made his name as a hard-throwing right-arm pitcher.

The Aucklander even had a stint with the Brisbane Bandits as a reliever in 2011.

Marck was a key part of New Zealand's World Baseball Classic squads in 2012 and 2016, but with his body starting to fail and his fitness admittedly not where it needed to be, a professional career in the Australian Baseball League was a distant dream.

With the Tuatara, Marck re-invented himself as a hard-hitting first baseman, lost 30kg, and impressed coach Steve Mintz and his staff enough during the September trails to earn a spot in the squad.

Marck told Newshub that his day job aided that transition.

"I have always played baseball locally in the domestic competition," he said. "I was just looking for a new challenge within baseball and as soon as this ABL opportunity came up, I knew I wanted to be a part of it.

"I tried throwing again, but the shoulder didn't really allow it, so the only other option was hitting.

"I have a batting cage I can train in every day and I've got my swing to a point where I am doing pretty good."

Marck has already produced key hits during the first month of the season, proving the Tuatara coaching staff made the right decision in giving him an opportunity.

But he's also found an elite-level sounding board within his own family.

Former All Whites striker Brian Turner represented New Zealand at the 1982 Football World Cup and remains one of the country's leading all-time goalscorers [21].

Turner is Marck's father-in-law, but more importantly, he's also his toughest critic.

"He was a bit rough on me early on, but he is a really good role model for me. He talks to me about how to be professional, and, yeah, we enjoy a nice little beverage after each game and have a debrief."

With two young children, Marck believes he may just hold the key to the game's future success right under his nose.

"They have everything they need," Marck joked. "My oldest, Xavier, he already has one of the prettiest swings you will ever see.

"He could be a bit of a Youtube sensation, but we are keeping that under wraps for now," he joked. "He could be the next big thing in New Zealand baseball."

Given Pinky's passion, dedication and love for baseball, only a brave person would bet against another Marck making waves in the next 25 years.