By IAN WILSON
The hits just keep coming for Dawson Tweet.
Indeed, they are coming at such a consistent pace that they’ve made the infielder with the Moose Jaw Miller Express a Western Canadian Baseball League (WCBL) record holder.
The native of Russell, Manitoba has been an elite hitter in the WCBL dating back to last season when he produced a .367 batting average for the Miller Express over 35 games and 90 at bats. That included a nine-game hitting streak in July of 2022.
Turns out he wanted to take his Joe DiMaggio impression to the next level, so he did just that this summer. DiMaggio set the bar for hitting safely in consecutive games in 1941, when he recorded base hits in 56-straight games for the New York Yankees. It’s a Major League Baseball (MLB) record that has stood the test of time. Incidentally, any WCBL batter hoping to reach the Yankee Clipper’s mark would have to do so by registering at least one hit in every single game of the summer collegiate league’s 56-game regular season.
“It’s not really something you think about. You try and go one day at a time and see how things work out,” said Tweet at the WCBL All-Star Game in Okotoks.
The WCBL’s hit streak record dates back to 2015, when the league was known as the Western Major Baseball League (WMBL). That year, Brandon Bufton of the Lethbridge Bulls put together a 28-game hit streak. Matt Lloyd of the Okotoks Dawgs came close to reaching it in 2017, when he knocked 44 hits over a 24-game span.
Enter Tweet, who proved a menace to WCBL pitching from the opening weekend of the 2023 season. The 5-foot-10 lefty batter picked up hits in 36 games in a row to smash the previous pace held by Bufton. Dating back to last year, Tweet hit safely in 40 consecutive WCBL games, with 36 of those contests happening this summer between May 26th and July 14th. On July 17th, the Medicine Hat Mavericks kept him off the base paths during five at bats to end the streak and prevail in a 4-2 victory over the Miller Express at Athletic Park.
“I wasn’t really thinking about it and then my dad mentioned it to me and I was like, ‘Whoa, jeez, that’s kind of cool,'” Tweet told Alberta Dugout Stories.
“I just feel like I’m seeing the ball really well. I worked hard on my approach at school. My college coaches worked with me a lot on approach and pitch selection, so I’ve been able to bring it into the summer and just see the ball really well and hit it to all parts of the field.”
In 47 games with William Jewell College in Liberty, Missouri, Tweet posted a .365 batting average in the Great Lakes Valley Conference (GLVC) in 2023. He also had 43 runs, 42 runs batted in (RBI) and six homers during his NCAA Division II season.
Since returning to Moose Jaw, Tweet has led the WCBL in batting average (.443), runs (47), hits (77), doubles (15), triples (5) and on-base percentage (.508) through 42 games and 174 at bats.
Tweet admits it’s been no easy feat to succeed against WCBL pitching this season, even if he makes it look that way.
“These guys are bringing the heat. The Okotoks boys, they’re always throwing the ball hard and they know where to put the ball, and the Sylvan guys, they shove as well. It’s impressive what some of these guys are able to do. It’s fun to be a part of and to see that every day,” said Tweet, who will suit up again for the William Jewell Cardinals this fall.
As a psychology major, Tweet said his academic studies have also helped out at the plate.
“Routines and stuff like that can really affect your psyche,” he said.
“With the hit streak I kind of got in my head a little bit, like I’ve got to tape the right wrist or make sure my batting gloves were in the right pocket, that sort of thing, but I’ve really tried to avoid that and just keep routines as they are and if it gets broken, then just move on from it … trying to keep routines apart from superstitions.”
He’s also benefited from having his younger brother, Wyatt, in the Miller Express lineup.
“It’s a lot of fun. We’re living at grandma and grandpa’s place in Moose Jaw together where my dad grew up, so it’s really awesome. We go to the ballpark together every day, we go to the weight room together every day. It’s really improving our relationship, considering we’re apart during the school year,” said Tweet, adding the two compare notes on opposing pitchers.
“Big time, big communication between the two of us and that’s something that’s matured as we’ve got older, too. We used to bicker at each other a little bit. It’s been good this year, especially both swinging from the left side of the dish, tracking pitchers and how they’re approaching us as hitters. It’s big to build off that and I’m glad that we’re grown up enough and appreciate each other enough to do that. It’s pretty special.”
As far as his goals for the remainder of the WCBL season go, Tweet is focused on team success. The Miller Express currently lead the East Division with a 30-14 record.
“It was an absolutely electric series last summer. The fans here were amazing, the fans in Moose Jaw were incredible, you can’t ask for a better atmosphere than that. You win some, you lose some,” he said of the Miller Express championship series against the Okotoks Dawgs, which Moose Jaw lost in three games.
“We have a very good squad this year, we’ve improved from last year … we’re thinking wins in Moose Jaw. We want that championship run, one series at a time, and we want that dog pile at the end of the year.”