WEBSITE & SOCIAL MEDIA
Twitter handle: @Okotoks_Dawgs
BROADCAST INFO: All games will be live streamed on USTREAM
HOME BALLPARK: Seaman Stadium; opened in 2007; 5,300 capacity
The Dawgs are a crowd-generating juggernaut when it comes to attracting baseball fans in Alberta. More than 100,000 fans – 102,833, to be exact – made their way to Seaman Stadium to watch the Dawgs in 2017.
That was the highest attendance total for any team in the Western Major Baseball League (WMBL) last year, more than double the Edmonton Prospects. A total of 94,397 fans went to 23 regular season home games in Okotoks, followed by a crowd total of 8,436 at three playoff games.
When it came to the team’s per-game attendance, their 2017 regular season average of 4,104 fans ranked third-highest among all summer collegiate teams in North America.
What were you expecting, a cat? Of course, the team mascot is a dog! Diggity underwent a makeover prior to last season and now he looks absolutely fetching. No word on whether the beloved pooch had liposuction or not – some maintain his svelte physique is the result of an improved diet and regular exercise – but Diggity definitely had some work done around the eyes and ears. Whatever he had done, he looks great! You just won’t hear a peep out of him about it.
SAVE THE DATES
- Saturday, June 2 – Home Opener vs. Mavericks
- Sunday, June 10 – Teddy Bear Toss vs. Prospects
- Saturday, June 16 – Little League Day vs. Mavericks
- Sunday, June 17 – Father’s Day vs. Brooks Bombers
- Saturday, June 23 – Jimmy Buffett Day vs. Fort McMurray Giants
- Monday, June 25 – Super Hero Night vs. Fort McMurray Giants
- Thursday, June 28 – Schools Out Night vs. Melville Millionaires
- Friday, June 29 – 80s Night vs. Melville Millionaires
- Sunday, July 1 – Canada Day vs. Regina Red Sox (fireworks after game)
- Friday, July 13 – Western Round Up Night vs. Lethbridge Bulls
- Sunday, July 15 – Diggity’s Birthday vs. Yorkton Cardinals
- Saturday, July 21 – Kentucky Derby Night vs. Edmonton Prospects
- Sunday, July 22 – Breast Cancer Jersey Auction vs. Edmonton Prospects
- Thursday, July 26 – Hometown Heroes Night vs. Medicine Hat Mavericks
- Friday, July 27 – Mascot Mania Night vs. Medicine Hat Mavericks
- Sunday, July 29 – Fan Appreciation Day vs. Lethbridge Bulls
View full schedule here.
PEANUTS & CRACKER JACK
You can always find a good hot dog at the concession stands at Seaman Stadium, but the staff are adding some tasty beverages to the menu this summer, as well.
During two home dates – June 15th and July 23rd – the Dawgs will be selling four custom beers from Six Corners Brew Works. And on July 14th, Flor de Cana Rum is hosting Caribbean Night. Plan accordingly!
Head coach Mitch Schmidt will be a bear among Dawgs this season. Schmidt, whose nickname is Big Bear, will make his Okotoks debut this summer. Coming from the Bellevue University Bruins, a National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) program, Schmidt has been coaching for over two decades. Since he joined Bellevue as an assistant coach in 2005, the Bruins have made four NAIA World Series appearances and 87 of the players he’s coached have signed professional contracts. The Billings, Montana native is already familiar with several players on the 2018 Dawgs roster, including infielders JT Patterson and Riley Baasch, outfielder Brandon Sparks and pitcher Junior Ramirez – all players he coached in Bellevue this year.
Joining Schmidt in the dugout is a familiar face. David Robb, who was the franchise’s first coach and is now the team’s hitting and bench coach, was inducted into the Okotoks Dawgs Hall of Fame in January. His resume includes coaching experience in the Oakland A’s organization, and the Canadian and Italian national teams. But Okotoks Dawgs fans know Robb best from his long-time tenure with the team, including his role in helping the organization win three straight WMBL championships between 2007 and 2009.
Rounding out the coaching staff is infield coach Andy Peterson and pitching coach Joe Sergent. Peterson, who is originally from Anaheim, California, was a Seattle Mariners draft pick who played two seasons in their minor-league system.
Sergent, meanwhile, has worked with Dawgs Academy and summer collegiate players for the last two years. The left-handed pitcher was drafted by the Florida Marlins in 1999 and played for five years in the organization.
It was a tale of two seasons for the Dawgs in 2017. They cruised through the regular season, setting a franchise record for wins, while going 35-13. That put them way atop the Western Division, eight games clear of the Lethbridge Bulls and Medicine Hat Mavericks, who finished the season with identical 27-21 records.
Unfortunately, the playoffs were another story. The euphoria of a triumphant regular season gave way to the heartbreak of a first-round upset at the hands of the Edmonton Prospects in five games.
It really was a great season, but it was ultimately unsatisfying for the Dawgs, who will be seeking redemption in 2018.
The Dawgs have four championships under their belts, including a 2004 title when they were the Calgary Dawgs, and the aforementioned three-peat from 2007-2009. They have also made the WMBL playoffs every season since moving into Seaman Stadium, dating back to 2007.
The summer collegiate squad is also proud to count some major league talent among its alumni, including Tampa Bay Rays right-handed pitcher Andrew Kittredge, who collected his first MLB win this season. Calgary catcher Jordan Procyshen is currently in the Boston Red Sox minor league system and outfielder Tyler Hollick, also a Calgarian, was a San Francisco Giants selection in the 2012 draft. Pitcher Jeff Duda, a core player from the team’s championship years who is now a coach with the Dawgs Academy, went on to play several years of independent league baseball from 2010 to 2013.
EXPECTATIONS FOR THIS SEASON
The Dawgs marked their 10th anniversary in Okotoks last year and were hoping to bring home a championship to celebrate. After failing to do so, the team is now coming up on the 10th anniversary of their last WMBL title (which was in 2009).
The goals for this year are simple, says community relations manager Angie Cox.
“Win the division, get out of the first round and win the WMBL championship,” she said.
Anything less will be a disappointment for the team and its fans.
Reigning WMBL MVP Kody Funderburk and the league’s 2017 Canadian rookie of the year, Matt Lloyd, were the heart of the batting order last season. Both two-way threats are on the roster this summer, but if they do return it won’t be until later in the season.
Lloyd, of Okotoks, is chasing down a Divison 1 NCAA World Series berth with the Indiana Hoosiers, while Funderburk is seeking the same thing with the Dallas Baptist University (DBU) Patriots. If either are successful, they’ll be playing in Omaha, Nebraska at the end of June. Meanwhile, the MLB draft takes place June 4-6 and if either player is selected that could also impact their availability to play in Okotoks this summer.
Even without that dynamic duo, the Dawgs will have a strong batting lineup to start the year. Middle infielder Eddie Sanchez – the winner of the team’s True Grit Award in 2017, and a fan favourite – will be back hustling at shortstop.
Meanwhile, Ryan Humeniuk is coming back from a strong season with Indian Hills Community College to patrol the outfield. Over 59 games with the Falcons, Humeniuk batted .333, with five home runs, 50 RBI and 57 runs.
Right-handed pitcher Chase Dreger, a Junior Dawgs alumni from Oakbluff, Manitoba, is coming off a season at Southeastern University that saw him strike out 19 batters in 22 innings of work, while picking up a win and a save.
Southpaw Jesse Coleman is an intriguing pickup for the Dawgs. Playing for the Webber International University Warriors, Coleman picked up three wins, four losses and seven saves over 36.1 innings pitched. The Auburn, Alabama product also struck out 43 batters, while allowing no home runs and just five extra-base hits. The 5-foot-11 senior can also swing the bat. In 170 plate appearances, he hit .282, belted six home runs and drove in 34 runs.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Third baseman and outfielder William Hollis just put together a stellar campaign for Cisco Community College that saw him launch 15 home runs, post 78 RBI and record a batting average of .447 over 57 games.
Brock Townsend, of Eugene, Oregon, also had a strong season for Linn Benton Community College. During 61 innings on the mound, the right-hander went 7-2, with a 1.62 ERA and 73 strikeouts.
Meanwhile, after batting .333 for the Dawgs in 39 games in 2017, Patterson returns to Okotoks as a player very familiar with the team’s new head coach and one that also had success under him. During 56 games at Bellevue University, Patterson stroked 16 home runs, produced 57 RBI and scored 49 runs.
Many more Dawgs players will have to step up if Okotoks hopes to claim a WMBL championship in 2018. The team’s full roster can be viewed here.
KEY REASONS TO GO TO THE BALLPARK THIS SEASON
Seaman Stadium is all about atmosphere. The team has cultivated a great baseball environment in Okotoks for kids and adults alike, and the Dawgs are likely to win more games than they lose, which always keeps the home crowds happy.
The ballpark itself is also a magical place. There’s a reason baseball is played on diamonds. Like a diamond, baseball – at its best – is a rare combination of beauty and perfection, and when the sun hits both of them at just the right light, they sparkle. You’d be hard-pressed to find a place in Canada where the game shines more brightly than at Seaman Stadium.