In The Cards: 2018 Medicine Hat Mavericks

By IAN WILSON

The Medicine Hat Mavericks were the last champions of the Western Major Baseball League (WMBL) in 2018. The league has since become the Western Canadian Baseball League (WCBL) and last year it ushered in a new reigning champ in the Okotoks Dawgs.

During this edition of In The Cards, we take a closer look at that title-winning Mavs team, which posted a 38-9 regular-season record. Offensively, Medicine Hat led the league in runs, hits, runs batted in (RBI), on-base percentage, walks and batting average. They also placed close to the top of the WMBL in several pitching categories.

This sharp-looking set of cards includes a range of action shots on the front – there’s a great one of outfielder Jaxson Hooge making a barehanded grab and a not-so-great bunting image of a faceless Jordan Dray. The back includes mug shots of the players and coaches, as well as biographical information and sponsorship ads.

Let’s take a closer look …

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You can file Nolan Rattai (top left) in the “local kid makes good” folder. The third baseman, a three-time WCBL All Star, was named the head coach and assistant general manager of the Mavericks last year, before COVID-19 wiped out the 2020 season. Rattai, who trained at Vauxhall Baseball Academy, has had some good tutelage along the way, including that of Andrew Murphy (top right). Murphy was named WMBL Coach of the Year in 2018.
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Shortstop Carson Johnson (middle) was named the WMBL playoff MVP after batting .333 with 15 RBI, 11 runs, four doubles and a triple through 13 games. Meanwhile, pitcher Barry Caine (bottom left) and Jordan Dray (bottom right) passed up a trip to Japan with the University of British Columbia (UBC) Thunderbirds to see their WMBL championship playoff run to the end.
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Pitcher Tyler Shumpert (middle) served as the team’s closer in 2018, picking up six regular-season saves and another three in the postseason. Over 29 innings, the Texan struck out 30 batters and posted a 2-1 record with a 3.10 ERA.
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New Yorker Junior Pimentel (bottom centre) was a versatile pitcher for the Mavs for two summers. Over the 2018 and 2019 campaigns, Pimentel pitched 73.1 innings and appeared in 27 games for Medicine Hat, including six starts. In that time, he went 5-5 with three saves, a 3.19 ERA and 70 Ks.
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Catcher Colton Wright (bottom left) was a formidable force for Medicine Hat during three summers of action. The B.C. product played a total of 165 games for the Mavs between 2017 and 2019. In that span, he batted .304 while smacking 21 long balls and producing 124 RBI. Meanwhile, first baseman Sal Rodriguez (top middle) was a popular player at Athletic Park. He played two seasons in Medicine Hat, hitting .306 with 79 RBI and 75 runs in 108 regular and postseason contests.
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Saskatoon pitcher Jared Libke (top right) took the mound in 2018 and 2019 for the Mavericks. The righthander went 11-7 during 148.2 innings pitched, posting a 3.87 ERA and 110 strikeouts. Libke returned to the team as a pitching coach after Kyle Swannack (middle left) vacated that position to start up Swanny’s Baseball & Training Facility in Medicine Hat.
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Zack Gray played 53 games for the Mavs in 2018 and was a steady offensive performer. He hit .301 with 51 RBI, 46 runs and seven home runs, including three in the playoffs. The Ohio native also interned under team owner Greg Morrison to learn more about the business side of running a franchise.
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Alex Dafoe (top left) made 10 starts for Medicine Hat – seven in the regular season and three in the postseason – and was never tagged with a loss. The Arizona hurler went 8-0 with a 3.42 ERA and 44 Ks through 55.1 innings of work on the mound.
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Team photo of the Medicine Hat Mavericks from the 2018 set of baseball cards.

We are hoping to create an online digital archive of Alberta baseball card sets with our In The Cards series. If you have baseball cards you’d like to donate – or lend – to our cause, please email us at AlbertaDugoutStories@gmail.com with more information and to make arrangements.

This is currently the only set of WMBL/WCBL baseball cards we have in our collection, so please let us know if you can be of assistance.

As always, feel free to leave a note about the cards, or the players and coaches, in our comments section below.

 

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