By IAN WILSON
We are excited to be partnering with the Western Canadian Baseball League (WCBL) to bring you a series of player profiles this summer.
The new feature – which is called THREE UP, THREE DOWN – allows baseball fans to get to know some of the hitters and pitchers in the WCBL a bit better.
Here’s how it works: we pose six questions to each player. Three of those are somewhat serious baseball-related inquiries, and three are either non-baseball questions or they probe more light-hearted topics.
The first person to toe the rubber for these articles is Sherwood Park’s Scott Gillespie, a right-handed starting pitcher with the Edmonton Prospects. The veteran hurler made his season debut against the Sylvan Lake Gulls recently, logging five innings and yielding one earned run in a no decision.
1. You’ve said that one of your favourite baseball memories was pitching for the Prospects in front of a Canada Day crowd in Edmonton. This year, you’ll get even more of a hometown connection when you play at Sherwood Park. How much are you looking forward to possibly pitching there this summer?
It’s going to be a really cool feeling. I played at that ballpark when I was in U18 and then a couple more times playing Senior AAA. To pitch at that true hometown ballpark in front of a WCBL-size crowd would be really awesome. With eight games there this summer, I would hope one of my start days would fall on one of those days. A start in Sherwood Park would rank right up there with pitching on Canada Day, that is for sure.
2. We’re coming out of a period of limited to no baseball in Alberta over the last year-plus. How much does it mean to you to be stepping between the lines and playing in front of a crowd of people again?
It means everything. Baseball is my life. It’s defined my college years. I get chills just thinking of pitching in front of hundreds or thousands of people. The boost from the Prospects fans will be huge because I know that they are a passionate fan base. Even the crowds when we’re on the road give me energy. Going into a hostile environment just helps get those competitive juices going a bit more. This entire season is going to feel like a playoff game and I’m all about that. Bring it on.
3. What, if any, baseball goals have you set for yourself this WCBL season and what are your expectations for the Prospects this year?
This summer I’m looking to be that ace for the Prospects. I’d like to consistently go out there and give them six or seven innings per start to give us a chance at the win. I know I’m capable of doing those things for the team. On top of that, a big personal goal of mine is to be seen and picked up by an independent league team. I’ve worked extremely hard over the last ten to twelve months to increase my velocity and command to become a pro-level type of pitcher. As for team expectations, they’re the same for any team I’ve ever been on: to win the championship. I play to win, and the coaching staff in Edmonton is the same way.
1. Onto the hard-hitting questions: what is your favourite ballpark food and why?
Oh, easily a hotdog with some mustard and raw onions. It’s the food most synonymous with a ball game for a reason. There’s nothing better.
2. You’ve played baseball for a while now. What’s the best family-friendly, on-field chirp you can recall hearing in person, whether it was directed at you or someone else?
There’s a lot more inappropriate than appropriate, but the ones I’ve heard that are still good for all ages are … if a pitcher has long hair: “Need someone to hold your hair while you’re throwing up?” Or if a passed ball goes through a catcher’s legs it’s always good when someone shouts, “He shoots, he scores!”
3. Tell me you’re a pitcher without telling me you’re a pitcher.
I never leave home without some muscle ointment – like Biofreeze or Voltaren – and a baseball to just grip my pitches while I’m bored.
LISTEN: Scott joined Alberta Dugout Stories: The Podcast in March 2020 to talk about his baseball journey. Check it out now here on Spotify or wherever you get your favourite podcasts.