Summer Baseball Options For Fans
Posted November 30, 2020
When baseball and the province of Alberta is back to normal, there will be a large selection of baseball for fans to get out and enjoy in the area. A nice summer night at a ballpark to catch a game with friends and family will be a great way to recharge after a disappointing 2020. For 2021, there are plenty of options for fans in the area to check out a baseball game. Aside from supporting your local Powerline Baseball League team, here are some local teams for your consideration:
Edmonton Riverhawks - West Coast Baseball League
New to the area baseball scene will be the Edmonton Riverhawks. The Riverhawks will be taking over the lease for Re/Max Field in Edmonton effective April 2021 with their inaugural home game in the Edmonton River Valley on Tuesday June 1 when the Victoria Harbourcats are in town.
It was a long negotiation process between the City of Edmonton, the Baseball Edmonton Inc group and the Edmonton Prospects. In the end, the city chose the Baseball Edmonton group and the Prospects elected to move to Spruce Grove for 2022. The Riverhawks are the new kid on the block and will have to work hard to bring baseball fans into the river valley for games. It is something that they feel confident they can do, especially with the West Coast Baseball League.
The West Coast Baseball League (WCL) was created in 2005 and is dubbed the west’s premier summer collegiate baseball league. Teams are spread out in the states of Oregon and Washington and in the provinces of British Columbia and now Alberta. The league has a wide variety of alumi playing professional baseball. Their website claims a total of 317 WCL alums were active in affiliated professional baseball in 2019. This includes 45 WCL alums in Major League Baseball. 2020 MLB AL Cy Young winner Shane Bieber played with the Cowlitz Black Bears of the West Coast League in 2014 and 2020 AL Gold Glove winner with the Chicago White Sox Griffin Canning who spent his WCL days with the Wenatchee AppleSox. In 2019 former Corvallis Knight Adley Rutschman was selected 1st overall in the MLB Draft by the Baltimore Orioles.
The WCL league is currently set up with a total of 15 teams, three of which will be new Canadian teams, the Riverhawks, Kamloops NorthPaws and Nanaimo NightOwls.
Edmonton Prospects - Western Canadian Baseball League
2020 saw the tenure of the Edmonton Prospects at Re/Max Field come to an end. The team had called Telus Field and Re/Max Field home since 2012 but were unable to secure a long term lease with the City of Edmonton to continue operating the facility. The team however did have plans to start a second franchise in Spruce Grove and will now call the Parkland County city home starting in 2022. The team is building a new ballpark in the south east corner of Spruce Grove, you can find more details about this project at their website www.sprucegrovemetroballpark.com
With no home for 2021, the Prospects will turn to something they are calling the Prospects Traveling Roadshow. The team will spread out their home schedule across fellow Western Canadian Baseball League parks such as Spitz Stadium in Lethbridge, Seaman Stadium in Okotoks and the new ballpark being built for the WCBL’s newest franchise, the Sylvan Lake Gulls. The is also advertising that they will be seeking to have community based games in the Edmonton area in communities such as Sherwood Park, Spruce Grove, St Albert and Westlock. Although nothing is confirmed yet, it is expected that the team will try to come to agreements with local minor baseball associations and local municipalities to host 4-6 WCBL games in these communities.
The Western Canadian Baseball League has been in the Edmonton area since the Edmonton Big River Prospects were formed in 2005. The team has spent time playing in Telus Field, Legion Field in St Albert and John Fry Park in Edmonton over their tenure, even taking a year hiatus in 2008 when the Sherwood Park Dukes played in their only Western Major Baseball League season.
While it is unclear the exact breakdown of when and where the Prospects will be playing you can check out their website for more information www.prospectsbaseballclub.com
The WCBL is a summer collegiate wood bat league that is known as the pre-eminent summer collegiate baseball league in Canada. The beginnings of the Alberta and Saskatchewan based league can be traced back to 1948 with numerous names before finally becoming the Western Canadian Baseball League we know today. The WCBL website states that baseball scouts have commented on the quality of baseball in their league as compared to Single A professional baseball.
In 2019 there were a total of twelve WCBL teams on the field across Saskatchewan and Alberta. Two of those teams however were not scheduled to participate in the 2020 season as the Yorkton Cardinals and Melville Millionaires franchise south a leave of absence. The concerns with the small market Saskatchewan teams included on field performance, financial struggles led by stagnant sponsorship and ticket sales. Both teams appeared committed to raise the funds needed to get back on the field for 2021, time will tell if they were successful.
Spruce Grove ball park, slated for a 2022 opening.
Some alum who have spent a summer or two playing in the WCBL who eventually found themselves in the MLB include Tug McGraw, Sean Wooten, Jim Henderson, Andrew Albers and Andrelton Simmons.
Sylvan Lake Gulls - Western Canadian Baseball League
The newest member of the WCBL are the Sylvan Lake Gulls. The team was officially announced in March and it has been firsts after firsts for the new team as they continue progress on their new field, sign a coaching staff and being to get commitment from players to join the team for 2021. They even know their first home date, which the WCBL has scheduled for June 11, 2021.
Owners Graham and Jennifer Schetzsle are from Veteran, Alberta and have been working with local officials to make the new ballpark and the new WCBL team a focal point of entertainment in Sylvan Lake. The field is located on the southwest corner of town at Pogadl Park. The park will also contain slo-pitch fields, a football field, spray park, two soccer fields and an outdoor hockey rink.
Imagine taking a day to head down to Sylvan Lake for some fun in the sun, a ball game, a bite to eat and back home. The short but fun packed road trips are going to be a huge drawing feature for the team. They will be owned and operated by baseball people from local communities so you know the passion will be there to make this an exciting experience at the ballpark for fans.
You can check out the progress of the new field, plan your road trip and get to know the team by visiting www.sylvanlakegulls.com
Your Local Baseball Association
There is some great baseball that is played throughout the spring and summer in Alberta, and it often happens in your local minor baseball association. Heated rivalries between associations and towns often date back a number of years and exist at almost every level of baseball in the Baseball Alberta associations.
Calgary Jr Dinos vs Castor Raiders in the 2019 U15 AA Tier I Provincial Championship in Provost.
18U AAA and 15U AAA baseball offer local baseball fans the top players in the area who are looking to move into a baseball academy or collegiate baseball as their next step. Like hockey, the talent level in these categories is some of the best in the province.
If there is a local association that is hosting a Baseball Alberta Provincial tournament, regardless of the age group and regardless of the tier, check it out if you can. Find a schedule of the tournament and see if you can watch a host team game or one of championship games. For a lot of kids provincials is the top competition they will have in their baseball careers and something they have been working to get to all season. It is fantastic to see the community support and the passion for baseball during these events.
Olds Spitfires at U15 AA Tier I Provincials in Provost, AB - August 2019
So in the spring, if we are allowed to, please make sure you support local baseball in the province, at any level. Getting to play in front of the home community fans is a huge boost for the players on the field.