In 2012, Tanner Leighton, the #4 ranked NAIA prospect in the country from The Masters College in California, was one of many players in the independent ball system who had been in contact with scouts during his college tenure, yet had no luck come June. After a season of Independent ball, playing with both the Washington Wild Things and London Rippers, Leighton went to play winter ball in Australia for the Melville Braves of Perth. Tanner then spent the 2013 summer season playing with the Solingen Alligators of the German Bundesliga before signing again to play a second season in Australia. However, Tanner was pulled aside by Australian customs officials upon his return and spent two days in a detention centre as he did not have the proper visa to return for a second year. The end result was a three year ban from Australia which left Tanner without an baseball option for the next three winters.
Tanner returned to Germany for a second season with the Alligators, this time leading them to a German Championship. While in Germany, he spoke to another import in Germany who also had been through the same experience in Australia when also entering without a proper visa. This is when he learned of South Africa as a good winter option and he soon found himself in touch with the Durbanville Villains of Cape Town, a club that is known for importing players out of the German Bundesliga.
This interview took place in the during the 2015-2016 South African season, Tanner’s second season with the Villians. Tanner tells his story and also answers a lot of questions about baseball in South Africa.