It's with a very heavy heart the ABL can confirm Greg Jelks has passed away on Friday, January 6th 2017 at the age of 55.
Born in Centre, Alabama on August 16th 1961, Greg's Baseball talent was evident from a young age. In 1981 the Philadelphia Phillies signed Jelks and on August 20th 1987, "Jelksy" made his MLB debut for the Phillies.
As many Baseball players do, Jelks decided to see the world and play the game he loved.
That love for the game saw Jelks sign with the Perth Heat and for both Jelks and Perth it was a match made in heaven.
Baseball WA CEO Lachy Dale remembers Jelks fondly.
"Greg Jelks changed the game of Baseball in WA and put it on the map," Dale said.
"He was integral to the success of the Perth Heat and WA Baseball over the past 23 years and many people will still remember the days of watching the famous 44 play at Parry Field during the 90's. A true gentleman of the game, Greg will be sadly missed by the Baseball community but his legacy will forever live on."
Jelks immediately became a household name and was the hero baseball needed to continue to grow. Those storied nights at Parry Field became even more legendary once number 44 joined the Heat.
Jelks wowed the large Perth crowds with his booming bat and almost effortless talent on the field. He made the game seem easy, fun and gave everyone a reason to come out to the ballpark.
The love Greg received from Perth he paid back by deciding this city was the place for him to call home.
Baseball Australia Chairman David Hynes played against Jelks, and was always impressed with his character and skill.
"I played against Greg and he was an amazing player and a true gentleman."
"Greg was hugely influential in baseball in Australia, particularly on the West Coast, and he has left us way too soon. On behalf of everyone involved in Australian Baseball, our thoughts are with Greg's family and friends. We have lost an amazing person today. We celebrate the great bloke that he was and the legacy that he leaves our game."
Greg Jelks became a dual citizen and went on to represent Australia in numerous prestigious international tournaments including the 2000 Sydney Olympics.
During his time in the ABL Jelks put up numbers that remain in only the most elite of company.
Greg Jelks Career Stats
ABL Games: 264 Perth Heat (249) Melbourne Reds (15)
Career Batting Average: .334 - Highest season average .379 in 1998/99.
Career Home Runs: 63
Career RBI's: 198
Career Slugging %: .615
When his playing days were over, Jelks gave back to the game through coaching. He spent time with the Perth Heat, Team Australia, Carine as well as in the States; most recently with the Washington Wild Things.
Anybody who has anything to do with baseball in Perth knew and loved Greg Jelks.
Baseball will never be the same without seeing your smiling face at the Ballpark Jelksy.
You will be forever missed #44.