EDITORIAL: Five Years Later

By JOE McFARLAND AND IAN WILSON

It all started at the tables of Calgary pubs with conversations about baseball days of yore in Alberta.

The Expos. The Dodgers. The Blue Jays. The Trappers. The Cannons.

Dawson. Kittle. Moseby. Valenzuela. Edgar.

Little did we know, we were setting the table for what would later be known as Alberta Dugout Stories.

It’s hard to believe that five years have passed since we officially launched our social media pages, with the goal of shedding some light on those old teams.

And while we were pining for a return of professional baseball – in some capacity – to our province, we had no idea what this little passion project would turn into.

Within a couple of months, we were quickly tuned into the present state of the game, with the likes of Dawgs Academy and Vauxhall Academy producing top-end collegiate and professional talent.

We started this website in June of 2017, eventually produced a podcast, and have built a legitimate source of news, information and inspiration for players, coaches, volunteers, fans, families, baseball historians and more.

It’s been a ride.

MORE THAN AN IDEA

While it was a collection of discussions that ultimately led to the creation of ADS, there was one particular moment where things hit a fever pitch.

In June 2015, Calgary’s Mike Soroka was taken in the first round of Major League Baseball’s Amateur Draft.

Both of us having media backgrounds (Ian in print and Joe in radio), we were taken aback by the lack of coverage about what we thought was a momentous occasion.

Not since Chris Reitsma had an Alberta-raised player been taken in the first round, so we thought it would garner more than just a few quick mentions in this province and across Canada.

We know we live in a hockey-first country, with football often ranking second in fan interest and everything else falling behind, but this felt like an opportunity.

So … we seized it.

We’ve had the great fortune of getting to know the people who are taking the game to new heights.

We’ve told the stories of players like Erik Sabrowski, Matt Lloyd and Adam Macko being selected in the MLB Draft.

We’ve shared tales of resilience from athletes like Myles Creran and Luxon Glor.

We’ve also been able to take a look back at the history of the game with historical pieces about the greats coming through our province like Satchel Paige, Joe Dimaggio and Andre Dawson. We’ve also been able to tell the lesser-known stories of Billy Hulen, Jimmy Rattlesnake and Dick Brookins.

There have been stories of championships won at many levels, and about one of the most horrendous seasons in professional baseball.

Alberta Dugout Stories has given us the opportunity to entertain and educate, not just you, but us as well. Every day, we’re discovering new stories that capture our imaginations.

ALWAYS LEARNING

One of the things we’ve really enjoyed diving into over the course of the last five years is gaining an understanding of the different levels of college baseball.

It’s incredible to see how many Alberta athletes are playing everything from junior college all the way to NCAA Division 1.

Not only are they playing, they are having major personal and team success, with everything from Academic All-American status to winning College World Series championships.

We’ve also been fortunate to work with the Western Canadian Baseball League, which has helped us further understand how far some of these athletes have come in their baseball lives.

As well, we’ve been able to foster wonderful relationships with Baseball Alberta and Baseball Canada, which has helped us to celebrate the great stories of the women’s game as well.

Alberta has a rich history of producing world-class athletes who have worn the maple leaf with pride, including Nicole Luchanski, Kelsey Lalor and Madison Willan. Every year, a new name seems to be added to the list of athletes who do our province proud.

BEYOND THE SCOREBOARD

Maybe the most eye-opening aspect of the past five years has been the connections we’ve made.

Despite a global pandemic, we’ve been able to create relationships and friendships that will last a lifetime.

We chatted about the history of ADS with Jim Claggett of Armchair Sports.

From the beginning, our goal was to “go beyond the scoreboard” to tell the stories and journeys of baseball in this province, and we’re proud of the work we’ve done over the last five years.

We’ve earned your trust and cemented ourselves as THE place to go for baseball stories in Alberta – and that means the absolute world to us.

As we look ahead to the future, our goal is fairly straight-forward: continue to inform and entertain YOU through our written stories and our podcast episodes while celebrating the game here in Wild Rose Country.

It truly comes back to our mission statement when we first start putting this project together:

“We believe in the beauty of baseball, and the purity of the game. We believe in the history of baseball, and the preservation of it. We believe in the future of baseball, and that Alberta is contributing to it. We believe that as special and perfect as baseball is, it is a game and at the heart of that is having fun. We believe in storytelling and that our role is telling compelling and worthy stories.”

From the bottom of our hearts, thank YOU for stopping by our dugout. We hope you stay a while.

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2 thoughts on “EDITORIAL: Five Years Later

  1. Hello; I mentioned this a few years back. I was a member of the 1975 Lethbridge Expos. Starting pitcher in their 1st game. Loved the city and all the folks in it. Best of luck, Mike G. in Vermont.

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