Everyone loves to cheer for the hometown kid.
Here at Alberta Dugout Stories, we had a lot of fun being able to profile and chat with some of the province’s best young talents as they made their way through their respective American college seasons.
Many of them have come back home to play summer ball in the Western Major Baseball League (WMBL), which gives us an opportunity to continue profiling them, but we want to do it in a different way.
So we have stepped away from our weekly Friday Futures features and are replacing it with “1 Thru 9.” Think of it as a “Getting To Know…” but in baseball terms. We’ve put nine questions to ball players across the WMBL and during the season, we will share some of the answers. The response was so great that we will have at least two every week!
We will start things off with someone who has traveled all over Alberta to play baseball. Red Deer’s Mike Ozga (@m_ozga13 on Twitter) spent the spring with the University of Calgary Dinos and is now manning the infield for the Edmonton Prospects. Not only is he involved in the game as a player, but the 5-foot-11, 215-pound left-hander stays involved in the game as an umpire. He was named the 2017 Junior Umpire of the Year by Baseball Alberta.
1. What is your walk-up/warm-up tune?
“I Did Something Bad” by Taylor Swift.
2. What is the best pre-game meal?
My normal pre-game meal is chicken fettuccini alfredo with a Caesar salad.
3. Your family sends you a care package. What’s in it?
Definitely some baking, either cookies or puffed wheat squares. I’ll also probably get some frozen food like lasagna and then a couple of gift cards.
4. What is your favourite stadium to watch or play baseball in?
It would have to be Norbrock Stadium in Kamloops or my home park growing up, which is Great Chief Park in Red Deer.
5. Who has had the biggest influence on you as a baseball player and why?
Darcy Warawa. He worked with me a tonne growing up, taught me how to play the game the right way. At times, we’d be out late hitting and my mom would have to turn the headlights on so we could still see.
6. Who was the best teammate you’ve ever had and why?
The best teammate I’ve had is Myles Creran. He started with the University of Calgary the same year I did, so we’ve been playing together three seasons. He works extremely hard everyday, and is the most positive teammate I’ve ever had. He’s the definition of a “team guy.” You’ll never see him without a smile on his face. To see how passionate he is about the game of baseball is something we can all learn from him. He’s the first one out of the dugout to congratulate anyone, and just plays the game the right way. It’s been an honour to play with him the past three years.
7. What is the best thing about playing baseball in the WMBL?
The best thing would be knowing I get to go to the field everyday and play ball without having the stress of school weighing on you. I just get to focus on playing ball all summer!
8. What is your favourite baseball memory?
I will have to go back to bantam, where my Red Deer team won the Dawgs Canada Day Tournament. We beat a couple of really good teams along the way. Getting the final out on the mound was a really cool experience.
9. What is the best piece of baseball advice you’ve ever received?
Someone told me to play the game hard and play the game the right way. If you’re mentally in the game at all times, and never take a play off, good things will happen.