Digging our Dugout

This time last year, we didn’t have a dugout.

The baselines had not yet been drawn and we had no idea how far back the fences would extend for this hypothetical venture.

At that point, Alberta Dugout Stories was an idea. Just two slo-pitch pals talking about how there’s relatively little media and online attention paid to the great game of baseball in this province.

From there, we went to work and developed a game plan. By April – opening week of the 2017 MLB season – we were ready to leadoff our efforts on social media. We took to Twitter, Facebook and Instagram with no original content, but focused our posts on baseball stories with Alberta connections.

As we built up a following on social media, we prepared our website and in June, we stepped out of the batter’s box and up to the plate with the launch of a new voice for baseball in Wild Rose Country.

Our mandate was – and is – rather broad. We want to write articles about all facets of the game, from Little League umpires, to local prospects, to the WMBL, to the glory days of the Pacific Coast League.

We want to talk about the rich history of baseball in Alberta, what’s going on right now and take a look ahead and try to spot who might be rounding first base.

OFF THE BENCH

Truth be told, we didn’t have a wealth of knowledge or contacts to draw on. We were coming in cold and we just sniffed out stories as we went.

We knew of the void that was left by the exodus of the Pioneer and Pacific Coast leagues. And we also knew that despite that, you could still open your window, tilt your head, and hear the magnificent sound of stitched cowhide pummeling leather after the grass turned from yellow to green each year.

What we didn’t realize was just how large the mitt-and-bat crowd is here. We didn’t fully get how many high-quality academies are teaching young boys and girls the baseball basics and intricacies that will make them scholarship worthy, should they wish to pursue a post-secondary path involving athletics.

We didn’t know that there were just as many baseball nerds as us – fans who either vividly remembered milestone nights at the ballpark, fondly recalled pulling rookie cards out of wax packs, or longingly shared a love of the quirky stories and images that contribute to the fabric of the sport.

And we certainly didn’t know of the generosity of the baseball community in this province … although we probably should have. Complete strangers have been so giving of their time and their knowledge. They have welcomed us into their world and allowed us to tell their stories.

It has been humbling and we feel honoured to be entrusted with your wisdom.

INTO THE GAP

So, what’s next for Alberta Dugout Stories?

In many ways, more of the same. We still plan on offering quality baseball journalism to our followers. We will continue to share compelling stories on social media, whether we created it or not. And we will also keep bringing you feature-length articles and Q&A’s through our website.

But we do have a lot more in store.

Would you like to hear more about Alberta prospects who have a shot at cracking MLB rosters? We’ll be doing more on that early in 2018, including a weekly feature on the best young players from our province.

Do you like podcasts? Well, get ready because we’ll be doing those in 2018. Our resident radio guru Joe McFarland will lead the charge there.

Would you like more video content? This is another medium that we’ll be experimenting with in the new year.

What about prizes? Yes, we’ll still be giving away prizes – and they’ll be even better next year. Stay tuned!

MONEYBALL

On a housekeeping note, we have incurred expenses over the past year in bringing this project to fruition. We will be looking to recoup some of those costs and establish a solid financial foundation, so we can hopefully keep doing this for many years. So, what does that mean to you? For starters, you could start seeing advertising in our articles and our social media feeds. We plan to do this as tastefully as possible and continue to provide a reader-friendly product.

While we have discussed a subscription-based service, this is not something we wish to pursue at this time. Instead, we’d like to just keep providing great stories to you, free of charge. But we may incorporate other online fundraising campaigns, as needed. Again, we hope to do this as tastefully as possible. We’ll encourage you to support us, if possible, but we’d rather be interviewing and writing than fundraising.

No matter what changes you see, we are always open to feedback, so please let us know what you think of what we’re up to.

For now, thank you so much for taking a walk through our dugout.

We appreciate the support and we hope you enjoy the view.

Yours in baseball,

Joe McFarland & Ian Wilson

Co-Founders, Alberta Dugout Stories

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