Survival wasn’t the goal this year finally

Posted August 2, 2012


Survival wasn’t the goal this year finally

In 2009 I made a crazy decision to move back to the Edmonton area with my wife. Baseball was something I missed. Down in Nebraska, the men’s teams were generally filled with current or very recent college players. Guys like me played slo-pitch.

So when I was looking at where I would play, it was a pretty easy decision. Clark Banack seemed surprised for some reason. The 1-14 Royals with almost no one left that I knew? Of course. It’s the place that made me love baseball again.

A former teammate told my wife, I had chosen “the wrong team.” One that played on a crappy field with crappy players who were too young, he inferred.

But a few of us returned. We had a good season, but lost some critical games that kept us out of the playoffs. The next couple years, every time we added a better player, we would lose one or two others for work or other reasons. The last two years were challenging, but I was having just as much, if not more fun playing than ever before.

This season, it started to come together.

Seeing the improvement and confidence of young men transform over three or four years made me love this game even more. Some nights, we learned the hard way. Some nights, we were world beaters. That’s how teams grow.

We went into the playoffs happy to finally be in after some help and a couple late wins. We won the first round with a little bit of luck some would say. Yeah we had Boettger. He was our horse. Yeah, so we had our haters for that. We play every season with the “1-14” Royals attached to us. No one lost to us. They always beat themselves.

Every night we had to gain back a bit of respect we had lost the last few years.

Another former teammate told me we would never be any good because we don’t get ringers and play everybody equally for the most part, and give local guys we have, too much playing time.

We almost proved him wrong this year. I wish we had. And ironically, it was our local guys and guys who went in halfway through games that got us in the final. Little Brendan Kudrowich for example, ripping that seventh inning single. Landon Miller’s bounce back efforts in the final. Adam Johnson and Kyle Ellis (Hay Lakers) are leaders of the team. Ian and Zenan Sherbaniuk, if they were my age, would have been Armenans from birth like Clark Banack.

Yeah, we lost a close one to a very good team. A team that made the plays and cashed key hits when needed. But we didn’t lose our pride. We kept our heads up for five years. We worked to get the field back to a decent place to play again. 

The Royals won’t have their name in PBL lore like we did in 1984 and 2002, but this one will be remembered. Everyone stepped up throughout the season and were key contributors. We won as a team, and we lost as a team. 

Although I was sipping beer from a can, rather than a cup, I was proud. Proud to have gone back to Armena. Proud of the new Royals. Proud of how far we’d come. Every year is a grind to get back to where we left off so this may be short lived, we know.

But once summer turns to fall, hopefully the guys can look back and remember the positives. The funny moments. The big comeback. The fact baseball in Armena, is fun. And we can win a few games while we’re at it.

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