James Matthew Buckley (some American sources list him as Mathew)
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 6' 1", Weight 190 lb.
Shortstop Mat Buckley played three years in the minor leagues, four years in Taiwan, 11 seasons in Australia and also appeared in several events for the Australian national team, including the 2000 Olympics. His brother Mark Buckley played in Australia as well.
Buckley debuted with the Daikyo Dolphins in the 1991-1992 Australian Baseball League, going just 4 for 25. In 1992-1993, he hit .232/.284/.305 for the Gold Coast Dolphins. Matthew then signed with the California Angels. In 1993, he hit .214/~.333/.214 in 19 games, scoring 9 runs for the Boise Hawks.
Buckley hit .203/.333/.237 for the East Coast Cougars in the 1993-1994 ABL. Returning to the US, he struggled with Boise (3 for 38, 3 BB, 2B in 19 games) and went 0 for 2 for the Lake Elsinore Storm to conclude his Organized Baseball career with a .156 average.
Buckley improved significantly in 1994-1995, hitting .302/.375/.380 but fielded .918. In 1995-1996, he batted .316/.364/.468 for the Gold Coast Cougars and fielded .931; he made second-team All-Star SS in the ABL behind Steve Hinton.
During the 1996-1997 Australian Baseball League, the Blacktown native batted .313/.374/.559 and fielded .922. He scored 52 runs, second in the circuit behind Rich Butler, and was named the All-Star shortstop for the campaign. In the 1997 Intercontinental Cup, Mat hit .370/.433/.593 as Australia's shortstop. The team won Bronze. Buckley failed to make the All-Tournament team at short as legendary Omar Linares of Cuba got the nod instead.
In the 1997-1998 Australian Baseball League, Buckley continued to improve, with a batting line of .351/.397/.644 while he fielded .924. He led the league with 208 AB, was third in hits (73, behind Hinton and Brendan Kingman), tied for 4th in extra-base hits (35) and led in doubles (21). He failed to make the All-Star team as Hinton and Ben Utting were chosen as the top two shortstops.
He was less impressive in the 1998 Baseball World Cup, hitting .240/.389/.379 with 8 runs in 8 games and fielding .925 at short for the Aussies. In the 1998-1999 ABL, Buckley joined the Sydney Storm and produced at a .323/.377/.449 rate while fielding .932. He finished 4th in the circuit in average and his 54 hits were one behind leader Adam Burton. He was chosen as the first-team All-Star shortstop again. Unfortunately, he made five errors in the deciding game of the championship series as Sydney fell to Gold Coast.
Buckley came to the Taiwan Major League in 1999 to play for the Chianan Luka. He hit .336/.419/.478 and was 5th in average, trailing Brad Strauss, Rod Brewer, Tim Howard and Chu-Ming Lee. Matthew was with Australia for the 1999 Intercontinental Cup and batted .357/.379/.429 as their starting shortstop, fielding .919. It was the first major international tourney in which Australia would win Gold. Buckley was not a key presence in the Gold Medal game - he played all 11 innings at short and hit 9th, going 1 for 4 and handling four assists without a miscue - but his overall performance for the tournament had been of assistance in their taking home the Gold Medal.
Buckley hit .353 in limited time in the 1999-2000 International Baseball League of Australia, playing for the Queensland Rams. In the 2000 Olympics, Matthew batted .235/.350/.235 as the starting shortstop for the host country. He handled 29 chances at short without an error and turned 3 double plays. Like Olympic teammate Dave Nilsson, Buckley spent most of the summer playing ball in Asia. Back with Chianan, Mat hit .277/.353/.408 and stole 13 bases.
Buckley hit .263/.311/.316 and fielded .926 as a veteran contributor for the Australian team in the 2000-2001 International Baseball League of Australia. He split the summer of 2001 between Chianan (.277/.366/.450 in 25 games) and the Solano Steelheads (.305/?/.402 in 43 games in his first US playing time in 7 years).
Mat concluded his Australian career by hitting .280/.400/.360 in the 2002 Claxton Shield. He only hit .206/.325/.265 in 10 contests for Chianan that year to wrap up his career in baseball.
Buckley had hit .302/.380/.435 in 4 seasons in Taiwan and .302/?/.458 in 11 seasons in Australia. He was one of two shortstops in Australian Baseball League history to top .300 for their careers - Hinton was the other.
Through 2006/2007, Buckley tied Ronny Johnson for 16th in Australian league history in average, was 16th in games (371), 14th in at-bats (1,176), 13th in hits (356), tied with Hinton for 5th in doubles (82), tied with Andrew Scott for 6th in triples (9), 18th in total bases (540) and 2nd in times hit by pitch (19).