By MATT BETTS
Canada has a growing list of recognizable baseball families.
The Quantrills. Father-son pitching duo Paul and Cal are the pride of Port Hope.
The Naylors. Cleveland Guardians outfielder Josh, Guardians catching prospect Bo, and current Ontario Blue Jays infielder and Texas Tech commit Myles of Mississauga.
The Pompeys. Current free agent and former Toronto Blue Jays outfielder Dalton from Mississauga, and brother Tristan, a Marlins outfield farmhand who was born in New Westminster, BC.
The Toros. Smooth-swinging Seattle Mariners infielder Abraham of Longueuil, Quebec and brother Douglas, a former Quebec Capitales utility man.
Looking to join the list are the Vulcano brothers of Cloverdale, BC. — infielders John and Liam, as well as catcher/outfielder Aaron, and infielder/outfielder Adam.
Baseball is a family affair for the Vulcanos, and it always has been.
“Growing up with competitive brothers was the best thing for us as a family,” John said. “We were always in the backyard playing for hours. Although we pushed each other a lot growing up, nobody pushed us like our dad did. He knew the kind of potential that we had as baseball players and young boys. He was always trying to make us the best people and baseball players that we possibly could be.”
As is the case with many brothers, sports were fun and competitive, but also sometimes involved heated altercations. It was all part of wanting to be the best.
“We had a large backyard where we would spend endless hours fooling around,” Liam recalls. “Most of the time it would get pretty competitive and end in arguments. All in all, I firmly believe that the fooling around we did growing up in the backyard is what really solidified our fundamental skills in the game of baseball. Not realizing at the time that this was the case.”
Aaron recalls a similar childhood.
“Although my older brothers were already playing before I was, I was a part of the game my whole life,” he said. “I would say it was my dad who initially introduced me to baseball. He was my coach from as early as I can remember and pretty much everything I know about baseball came from him. I fell in love with the game simply because of how big a part of my life it was.”
The Vulcanos also travel well. Born in Cloverdale before heading to Vauxhall, Alta.
The sons played for Les McTavish’s Jets, while mom Lisa and dad Jimmy are the residence managers for the program. While the memories of Jimmy hitting ground balls, fly balls, and throwing batting practice are etched into the minds of John, Liam, and Aaron, it was the support of Lisa that’s fueled the families success.
“For those that don’t know our family, there are actually a total of nine of us in the family,” John said. “Six boys and one girl. Although I give a lot of credit to my dad for helping mold the baseball player that I am today, our family would fall apart if it wasn’t for our mom. My mom was the foundation that kept our family together. She would always make sure that we had everything that we needed to play and that we were always fed even if it was really hard. I’d like to think that I have the best mom in the whole world.”
It’s something that both Liam and Aaron echo. That kind of unwavering support was needed during the next step in their baseball journeys.
Liam was the first off the board, committing to the University of British Columbia during the 2017/2018 year. But after playing just one season in three years due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it was time for a change of scenery. And with his brother’s John and Aaron already at Colby, he saw a natural fit.
“I spent three years at UBC but had only played my freshman year due to COVID,” Liam said. “The last two seasons were canceled and I was given eligibility back so I’m still a sophomore. After realizing I was still eligible to go to a junior college I contacted the head coach of Colby Community College, Ryan Carter, to see if there was a chance I could join the team. Coach Carter was actually the first college coach I ever spoke to while in high school so I still had his contact. There was interest from him and I was fortunate to join the team for this season.”
But it was John that was the first to give off a good impression of the school.
“The main attraction for me when I came to Colby was head coach Ryan Carter,” John said. “I talked to a few other junior colleges in high school, but I had a really good feeling about the head coach and it turned out to be true.”
For Aaron, the family connection to the school always kept the Trojans at the top of his list.
“I had always had Colby in my sights because John was here while I was in high school,” he recalls. “John would tell me things about the school and I became more and more interested. After I committed, I knew it was the right place to go. The recruiting process fell into place well. John was attending the school, which opened my eyes and Coach Carter’s eyes, and then after my commitment, Liam needed a place to go so the fact that John and I were going to be here helped him decide.”
Oh, and don’t forget about younger brother Adam, who committed to the Trojans this past fall. Carter’s road from Colby to the Vulcano household should have its own express lane.
Then, on Feb. 20, the three brothers made history in a game against Seminole State College. For the first time ever in the NJCAA, three brothers were in the starting lineup for the same team. John made the start at third, with Liam at second, and Aaron in left field. John hit a home run and finished the game with two walks and two RBIs. Liam chipped in a hit and a walk, and Aaron also left the yard for a solo shot in a 19-6 victory.
John is hitting .278 with two doubles, four homers, 14 RBIs and a 1.053 OPS, through 11 games. Aaron owns a .182 average with a solo homer and a .705 OPS after four games and Liam is hitting .125 with three RBIs and a .489 OPS.
So where do the Vulcanos hope to go from here? They agree in the short term.
“Grand Junction,” John said, referencing the home of the Junior College World Series. “It would be the first time in Colby Community College history that the baseball team has made it to the national championship. And to do it with two of my brothers on the same team would be a crazy experience.”
Long term? Well, they agree on that, too.
“To play the sport I love for as long as I can.” Liam said.
Time will tell if the Vulcanos make that list of Canadian big league families.
But there’s no doubt they’ve already made quite the impact on the game in this country.