You could call it glove at first sight.
Western Canadian baseball fans may not have realized it at the time, but they were watching the best defensive shortstop since Ozzie Smith take the field.
That summer of 2009, a scrawny 19-year-old kid from the Dutch Caribbean island of Curacao made his way to the city of 15,000 people in Saskatchewan to suit up for the Yorkton Cardinals at Jubilee Park.
Majestic moonshots were not his calling card, and if you skipped batting practice you could still witness something special from Andrelton Simmons.
Read More Short Stop in Saskatchewan
From Saskatchewan to Seattle, Marco Gonzales always managed to take his game to the next level.
The 28-year-old is one of the more notable alumni of the Western Canadian Baseball League (WCBL), and after signing a four-year, $30-million contract extension with the Mariners in 2020, the reliable left-handed pitcher should be memorable to those who follow the summer collegiate circuit.
Read More Tooning Up For the Big Leagues
The Medicine Hat Mavericks were the last champions of the Western Major Baseball League (WMBL) in 2018. The league has since become the Western Canadian Baseball League (WCBL) and last year it ushered in a new reigning champ in the Okotoks Dawgs.
During this edition of In The Cards, we take a closer look at that title-winning Mavs team, which posted a 38-9 regular-season record. Offensively, Medicine Hat led the league in runs, hits, runs batted in (RBI), on-base percentage, walks and batting average. They also placed close to the top of the WMBL in several pitching categories.
Read More In The Cards: 2018 Medicine Hat Mavericks
“You win it.”
Visitors to Seaman Stadium may have become familiar with this phrase over the last two summers. Those seated close enough to the home dugout could hear Mitch Schmidt, the head coach of the Okotoks Dawgs, bark this motto to his charges dozens of times each game.
The spirited slogan was often used as encouragement to achieve a seemingly small task – you win an at bat, you win by stealing a bag on the base paths, you win by getting a bunt down, you win by inducing a ground ball, you win by punching through a third strike, you win by making a routine defensive play in the field.
After piling up all those little victories over the course of the 2019 Western Canadian Baseball League (WCBL) season, the Dawgs claimed the Harry Hallis Memorial Trophy with an 8-6 victory over the Regina Red Sox on Aug. 16th and will enter next year as the defending champions.
Read More Let the Big Dawg Eat
Eric Sim may just be the hero that baseball deserves, even if the sport doesn’t need him any longer.
A self-professed “washed up” catcher and pitcher, Sim has found happiness as a bar manager and in baseball exile at his bat cave, where he still trains like a pro but professes a hate of the game he spent seven minor-league seasons playing.
Both outspoken and entertaining, Sim isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. If his unfiltered talk doesn’t send people to the exits, his unabashed opinions might.
Yet, the same in-your-face expression that turns off many baseball fans is also what makes the former Western Canadian Baseball League (WCBL) Canadian Rookie of the Year a cult favourite and a voice for the minor league experience.
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