PBL Profile: Steven Pahl
Posted September 1, 2020
We finally return to our Powerline Baseball League Profile series after a non-existent 2020 season due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Our first profile back is on a key person in the Leduc Milleteers dynasty that resulted in back to back to back to back to back PBL Championships from 2009 - 2013 and who was instrumental in bringing the league up to expectations during his time as the PBL President.
Today’s feature is on Steven Pahl of the Leduc Milleteers as he discusses a lengthy, successful and colourful baseball career that has ranged from the fields of Wetaskiwin to Grant McEwen to the PBL from 2008 until 2019. The Milleteers were a championship team on the field in the PBL and one of the better area tournament teams who would venture around the north central Alberta area to play in small town tournaments all the way up to the last remaining money tournaments.
On the field Pahl was the anchor of a strong Milleteers pitching rotation that would sit either at the top or near the top of the team standings for the fewest runs allowed during the teams five PBL Championships in a row. When he wasn’t on the mound he was contributing with his bat in the middle of a solid Milleteers offence that always was able to put together big innings and timely scoring. In the board room Pahl was instrumental in bringing the PBL into modern times by working with the teams to institute policies more acceptable in a more modern baseball league.
What was your baseball background prior to playing in the PBL?
Played minor ball in Millet until midget, then a year in Wetaskiwin AA, then Sherwood Park AAA. After minor ball played a year at Grant McEwan College before the program folded then played in the Sunburst league with the Red Deer Stags for few years. Then moved to Lloydminster and played with the Border City Blue Jays, which is where I heard about the Powerline League as the team played in the Tofield Canada Day Tournament one year.
When did you start playing the Powerline Baseball League? How did you get involved with that team?
2008 to present with the Leduc Milleteers, founded the team.
Do you remember your first game in the Powerline Baseball League?
2008 in Ryley vs the Brewers. Didn’t know what to expect as most of the team hadn’t played in a few years and nobody had ever heard of Ryley before. Our jerseys hadn’t come in yet so we scrounged up some old zone 4 bantam Alberta Summer Games uniforms laying around in my parent’s basement and got the team to squeeze into them. They were the worst looking jerseys I’ve ever seen, all white with white letters and numbers, made no sense. Turned out half the Brewers were in sweat pants and T shirts anyways, so at least we had jerseys. Hit a bomb in first PBL at bat, stopped at second as I didn’t think I hit it very good, but with aluminum bats and 340ft fence I guess you don’t have swing very hard. Of course I didn’t hit another one for the rest of the year. Game ended early as we mercied the Brewersin five.
What was that first year of Powerline Baseball League baseball like for you?
Early on the big surprise was how unorganized it seemed with the weird roster and line up rules, fans base umping, etc. Then you get to the playoffs and the ball tightens right up and gets serious, our squad was unprepared for the intensity shift and lost out in good series to the eventual champs from Bardo.
How did the Powerline Baseball League change during your years in the league?
Change to wood bats was a big difference, really put an emphasis on pitching and defense. Organization and tightening up the rules made it more professional, especially having real umpire crews. Competition seems more even as well, used to be a huge gap from top players on a team to the bottom of roster made up of slow pitch players, most rosters today are filled with actual baseball players.
Is there a specific game that comes to mind as being memorable for you during your time in the Powerline Baseball League?
2009 game 1 semi final against the Ryley Rebels. The Rebels were a good team with tons of power hitters and power pitching, while we limped into the playoffs having had no offense the last half of the season. We were down 2-0 going into the 7th. I led off and worked Solberg to a 3-1 count, then he threw a splitter in the dirt off the plate and the ump called it a strike. I calmly disagreed and got a quick toss, so I blew up on him and kicked some dirt, might of yelled at the crowd as well. Then Shawn Brinkworth came into replace me and ripped a single, the flood gates opened and we won 3-2 and didn’t look back for five seasons.
Was there a pitcher in the Powerline Baseball League that you perhaps dreaded facing or just had your number for some reason?
Didn’t like hitting against Kirk Smith when he was with Beaumont, too over powering, couldn’t even bunt off him some games.
Liked hitting off of Curt Stensrud for some reason, we always seemed to light him up despite his good stuff.
Was there a particular hitter that you had a tough time getting out?
Craig Koughan, for some reason he always seems to hit the ball hard off me no matter what I throw.
How would you describe the difference between the regular season and those best of three series in the playoffs?
Used to be night and day, I think with the parity now you see a better quality regular season games, especially when there are playoff races. When I first joined it seemed that teams often just coasted in the regular season since a .500 record was usually good enough. Then playoffs would come, they would put their best lineups out there and ratchet up the intensity and it would be a whole new game.
What was the most memorable playoff run like?
Five in a row. Most memorable was 2011. We dominated all year, but the injury bug started to whittle away at our depth. In the final game our starting catcher stepped on the bat in the first inning throwing down to first and wrecked his back and had to come out. Then the backup catcher Brad Engel took a foul tip to the hand and broke it and would need a bunch of surgeries. He taped it up and finished the game. We were down 3-0 with two innings to go then Shawn Brinkworth made two great defensive plays at second base then hit a lead-off triple. Then the Blue Jays completely imploded as we scored 5 unearned runs to seal the deal right as a thunderstorm was rolling in.
There have been numerous on-field, maybe even off-field, rivalries in the Powerline Baseball League over its history. Was there a particular rivalry that you were involved in that was memorable and why was it so memorable?
Not really, I hate all other teams equally, but especially Armena.
Are there any stories that you have heard, seen yourself or know about that would be great to share with the community?
I remember the first season hearing about this Ray The Legend guy and all these bombs he hit and games he won, but we handled Bardo pretty easily in the regular season and he didn’t really standout. Then in our first playoff game in Bardo he hit two jacks in the first inning including a grand slam, that’s when we realized the Legend was real.
Also Scott Peterson used to tell the story of some kid from Camrose who’s over bearing mother would be very vocal in the stands with her radar gun, wish I could’ve seen that.
What was your favourite baseball field to play on and what were some endearing features of that field that made it your favourite?
Bardo, its cool that it’s in the middle of nowhere, doesn’t even show up on a map. Then weird stuff always happened out there from bad hops, to losing balls in the sun, to the wind wreaking havoc on flyballs. One playoff game no one mowed the outfield for like a month and the dandelions were like knee high, our second baseman made a highlight reel diving catch into the dandelions, disappeared then came up with the ball and got the out at first.
Were there any memorable moments that have stuck with you about the PBL tournaments?
Ryley Days cabaret was awesome. One year one of our guys brought his baby momma who was a stripper. The Holden Blue Jays were taking a liking to her on the dance floor and he lost it and punched out a bunch of them. Then he never played again and no one saw him for like five years until he showed up at a stag.
Could you tell us a little about working within the PBL Executive and what the experience was like?
Most of the time the teams agree, pretty boring usually. Still confused about how to end a playoff game if it rains.
A big thank you to Steven for taking the time to answer some questions and give us a look into his baseball career. Everyone is hoping to see Steven and the rest of the Milleteers hopefully back on the field in 2021 after announcing that they would not play in 2020 before the Covid-19 pandemic shut the PBL down anyways.