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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Going the Distance with Kinsella

For William Steele, the Kevin Costner baseball movie Field of Dreams offered an introduction to the world of Alberta author William Patrick Kinsella. It was a common entry point for many fans of the Order of Canada recipient. What Steele didn’t know at the time was that he would devote decades of his life to researching and writing about the controversial author and his literature.

The result of Steele’s labour is the recently-released biography Going the Distance: The Life and Works of W.P. Kinsella. The book provides an extensive look at Kinsella’s early life, his adult years working odd jobs, and his ultimate success as an author. It also explores the Edmontonian’s writing – which generally fell into two categories: baseball stories and aboriginal tales – and the response to his somewhat controversial books.

Our own Ian Wilson of Alberta Dugout Stories had an hour-long conversation with Steele about Going the Distance.

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Kinsella at the Bat

Long before author William Patrick Kinsella ever dreamt about baseball in Iowa cornfields, he was a stimulus-starved child growing up in rural Alberta. What he lacked in local events and community activities as a homeschooled farm kid near Darwell – 75 kilometres northwest of Edmonton – Kinsella made up for using his imagination. 

That creativity served him well as a writer, as William Steele notes in his new biography, Going the Distance: The Life and Works of W.P. Kinsella. The book provides a comprehensive look at the man made famous for his 1982 novel Shoeless Joe, which was the basis of the seminal baseball movie Field of Dreams. 

Here is an excerpt from Going the Distance …

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Here’s to you, Mr. Robinson

It’s not quite as iconic as the Brooklyn Dodgers hat that we associate with Jackie Robinson.

But for one night anyway, Robinson was kind enough to trade in his baseball cap for a white cowboy hat.

Just two months after winning his first and only World Series – which was also the first and only title the Brooklyn Dodgers captured – Robinson found himself in Calgary and, well, he was introduced to a folksy Alberta tradition.

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