The Pioneers: Medicine Hat A’s

When the Pioneer League looked at expansion in 1975, they began looking at Medicine Hat.

It wouldn’t happen until 1977, but the love affair ended up lasting 25 years.

In the second of our three-part series, we look back at the Medicine Hat A’s and Blue Jays with a man familiar with sports in the city: Bob Ridley.

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The Baseball Brat

There is a little confusion over where T.J. Bennett is really from.

As it turns out, he was born in Lethbridge but didn’t spend a whole lot of time here.

The reason: his father was a baseball coach for a new Pioneer League team in 1992. That background gave us context on how the 26-year-old has lived his baseball life.

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Tokyo Fan Club

It was a contingent of Hall-of-Fame baseball talent that Western Canada had never seen before and hasn’t seen since.

When Major League Baseball (MLB) stars descended upon Alberta in October of 1934 on their way to Vancouver to board a ship for Japan, the group of legendary players included Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Jimmie Foxx, Lefty Gomez, and Moe Berg.

The only thing more compelling than the celebrity aura they brought to each stop was the newspaper ink they generated on their 19-game barnstorming tour of North America, which included 12 contests in Canada, in the lead up to their Asian tour.

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Last Of The Baby Jays

Erik Kratz represents the end of an Alberta era. He is the last active player in Major League Baseball who spent time with the Medicine Hat Blue Jays.

He was part of the last Pioneer League team to come through Athletic Park in 2002.

We caught up with his old manager Rolando Pino to talk about Kratz and his improbable journey to baseball folk hero.

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