Forno Honours Father


Canadian Baseball Network

Let’s see … for this year alone Pablo Forno has made uniforms for the Okotoks Dawgs summer college team.

And for Dawgs Academy teams for 18U Black, 18U Red, 16U, 15U Black, 15U Red and 13U. That’s 140 sets of uniforms this season alone.

Thousands and thousands of uniforms Forno has made for the Dawgs at his Grand Slam Sports store on Fisher Street going back in the 28-history of the organization.

Going back the yearly uniform total goes like this :

For the first six years, one travel team, there were roughly 12 sets. For next 23 years, college team has had maybe 52 sets and for the academy team (seven or eight teams another 23 (276).

So the total number of sets of uniforms … roughly 250-to-400.

Pablo’s proudest of the current Dawgs uniform which displays ‘OKO” with a Maple Leaf on the front.

“That was John Ircandia’s idea,” Pablo said.

Pablo’s favourite number tonight at Seaman Stadium will be on display when the annual Western Canada Baseball League All-Star Game takes place.

That’s because his son Brody Forno (Okotoks, Alta.) will wear it … just as Pablo wore it when he was a coach with the Okotoks Dawgs college team. The summer collegiate league based in Saskatchewan and Alberta dates back to 1931.

Yet, we doubt few men have put as much darn yarn into one organization and will stand watching with as much pride as Pablo watching Brody tonight.

* * *

Pablo grew up in Plano, Tex. He was a middle infielder playing ball in high school and then his family moved to Calgary when he was 18 for a better opportunity. He then graduated from the University of Calgary working in logistics for the shipping company Schenker International for 11 years.

Pablo’s first son Dallas played ball for Our Lady of the Lake University Saints in San Antonio Tex. and then transferred to the Tabor College Blue Jays. Pablo intially worked for a shipping company when he arrived in Alberta and wanted to be around sports, so he began with a Grand Slam Sports outlet.

Pablo (Okotoks, Alta.) joined the Dawgs when the summer collegiate club first took the field at Burns Stadium in Calgary. When the Dawgs moved to Okotoks in 2006, so did Pablo and his entire family. As owner of Grand Slam, he has been the Dawgs exclusive merchandiser for 23 years and continues to operate the Dawgs General Store. Pablo has served as a director, operations manager.

In 2022, Pablo was inducted into the Dawgs Hall of Fame along with Jim Amy and Jim Wildeman as “super volunteers.” Besides Brody, sons of Dawgs Hall of Famers to wear Pablo’s Dawgs uniform include:

Jeff Johnson, son of Don Johnson (class of 2017), Cam McLeod, son of Don McLeod (2017), Will Gardner, Jr. son of the William Gardner, also known as the golden throated warbler (2017), Brendan and Aidan Rose, son of Mike Rose (2019) plus Vince Ircandia, son of John Ircandia (2015), founding and managing director of the Dawgs.

“What John has done with the Dawgs is pretty amazing,” said Brody, from Brooks, Alta. after Okotoks scored a 9-7 win over the Bombers.

“John Ircandia has put his head out for the Dawgs and he’s done a ton for a lot of players for a long, long time.”

And of course James Henderson, the first Dawg to make the majors as the Milwaukee Brewers reliever.

* * *

This season Brody is 4-0 with a 1.90 ERA in 10 games — four starts — walking nine and fanning 28 in 23 2/3 innings for the Dawgs.

Brody returned home after a dog-pile of a spring pitching for the Williston State Tetons. He recorded the final four outs — striking out two — as Williston edged the Miles Pioneers 9-7 to close out the Region XIII tournament championship at Miles City, Mont.

“My catcher Zack Stark and I kind of wound up between third base and shortstop and I was near the bottom of the pile,” Brody said.

Williston State opened the tourney with a loss to Miles and then the Tetons went on a four-game winning streak in elimination games. They beat Dakota County 9-8, Bismarck State 9-1, Miles 9-6 and the revenge rematch for the fourth time title in school history.

Stark (Medicine Hat, Alta.) went 3-for-5 with a homer and two RBIs.

Kody Butt (St. John’s, Newfoundland & Labrador) also pitched four innings giving up two runs and fanning five. Rylan Penner (Blumenort, Man.) pitched 1 1/3 scoreless innings to get to Brody.

If that Butt surname sounds familiar it should be. His father Gerald Butt was part of the gold medal Junior National Team which won the World Cup in 1991. It was Canada’s first ever gold medal, a team managed by Canadian Hall of Famer John Haar.

After the Region tournament championship, the Tetons took on Southeastern Community College in the Northern Plains district championship. The Tetons took the first game 3-1 behind another great pitching performance from Brody (five innings, one run, six strikeouts) and Penner (four scoreless) for his seventh save.

The Tetons dropped Game 2, 6-1. Williston lost the deciding game — to settle who advanced to the JUCO World Series — 3-2 as Butt had an outstanding game (six innings, two runs).

* * *

While he did not have a favourite player as a five-year-old — his first memories of going to Dawgs games — Brody’s first fave was LHP Graham Brunner (Sherwood Park, Alta.), 23.

“And now I’m playing with him,” said Brody, 20.

And in the TV league he likes the way ex-Blue Jay Marcus Stroman goes about his business on the mound.

“He just puts his head down and pitches, he competes every game,” Brody said.

* * *

Zach Stark finished with a .327 average with 12 doubles, four homers, 32 RBIs and a .938 OPS in 50 games.

On the mound for Williston … Butt was 4-2 with a save and a 1.80 ERA as he walked 23 and struck out 53 in 45 innings in 14 games … Penner was 5-1 with seven saves and a 3.93 ERA, as he walked 20 and struck out 43 in 34 1/3 innings … Cedric Lagasse (St. Adolphe, Man.) was 0-1 with a 5.29 ERA with 12 walks and 10 strikeouts in 17 innings … Jorge Maza-Leon (Toronto, Ont.) was 2-3 with two saves and a 5.65 ERA in eight games walking 26 and striking out 34 in 28 2/3 innings.

At the plate … Shane Cowan (Fall River, N.S.) batted .276 with two doubles, two homers, 11 RBIs and a .795 OPS in 34 games … James Pinchin (Winnipeg, Man.) finished with a .246 average, two doubles, five RBIs and a.717 OPS in 26 games … Zach Evanochko (Winnipeg, Man.) hit .217, with a double a homer, 10 RBIs and a .724 OPS in 14 games.

* * *

Wow, that’s a lot of numbers.

“My favorite number out of all the uniforms? No. 4 of course,” says Pablo.

Brody will wear No. 4 tonight.

(This article was originally published on the Canadian Baseball Network on July 15, 2023 and has been used here with the author’s consent.)


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