Donald Trump Gives Baseball's First Official Diplomat The Flick

Donald Trump's incoming administration has told US Ambassador to NZ Mark Gilbert - a former White Sox - to leave his post.

by Ben Stanley
12 January 2017, 11:30pm


In the American summer of 1985, a veteran minor league outfielder named Mark Gilbert got called up to the Bigs by the Chicago White Sox.

Gilbert, a former college star at Florida State, had battled away from seven years in the minors before getting his 'cup of coffee' with the Sox. He'd play just seven games, hitting .273 and notching up three RBI before being sent back down.

Four years ago, Gilbert - a donor to President Barack Obama during his 2008 campaign for the White House - was named the United States' ambassador to New Zealand.

He became the first ever former professional baseball player to become an American ambassador. Though it is unlikely to have been crucial in Obama's decision to appoint him, Gilbert played for the president's favourite ball club.

On January 21, the 60-year-old former Florida-based banker will be out of a job.

President-elect Donald Trump's transition team have told around 50 politically-appointed ambassadors around the world to leave their post after his inauguration.

This means all ambassadors directly chosen by Obama, which are usually for the less strategically important nations.

It is not known who, and when, will replace Gilbert as the official American representative to New Zealand. Fairfax New Zealand has reported it "could be a long wait" before someone else takes the job.

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