Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Falcons Win

I am back in town for a couple of days from British Columbia visiting family. I wish to thank Larry Toman for so ably filling in for me. Up in the Shushwap Valley there is not much in the way of WiFi signal.

The trip was a wonderful time with two young boys dear to my heart. We played ball at a ball field and then went to see a Kelowna Falcons ball game. A beautiful night for a ball game and the hometown team won in a shut out.

What is so nice about this level of play? They play in a 1250 seat ballpark, Elks Field. It a small town family operation. The team owner sells fifty-fifty draws himself. He’s a well- known figure hereabouts. The players have their fans in the stands. They are very vocal and supportive. Local advertising, the beer tent, the smell of hot dogs and foul balls hitting the road careening off an occasional car add to the small town feel. Very nice. Different from the MLB.

The Kelowna Falcons belong to the West Coast League. It's a collegiate level, using wooden bats (not the metal bats of regular season college ball). The young men are all university students mostly from North Western United States.

The WCL started in 2005, built from six teams in the former Pacific International League. There are nine teams in two divisions with rosters of 25 men each. They have a 48 game season from June 3 till August 6. The Falcons are the only Canadian team in the league.

On the night I went, the Falcons shut out the Klamath Gems from Oregon 6-0. Ryan Paterson pitched 6.2 shut out innings notching up his third win of the season, a 3-1 record. Connor Joe hit a 1-out, 2-run double in the 4th that put the Falcons ahead in the game for good. In the bottom of the 8th, Andrew Firth hit a 2-out, 3-run double down the right field line, batting in Kyle Pearson, Ben Swinford and Bo Folkinga. For the box score the Falcons went 6 runs on 9 hits, 1 error and 5 left on. The Gems went no runs on 4 hits, 1 error and 7 left on. If the truth be told, both teams are at the bottom of their respective divisions.

This League is not MLB and not AAA. Considering that these are university students they played very well, only two errors. We enjoyed watching a player’s approach to his position. There were occasional miss cues but lots of energy. There were no home runs. However, you could see some good talent playing good ball with glove and bat. You could also observe some mental and physical aspects of the game that needed development. The opportunity to play for the summer at this level is terrific for such young players. The learning curve is very high and they have a very demanding schedule. The players are billeted in each of their team towns and travel long hours by bus. They are paying their dues. New York Met and Canadian, Jason Bay, played in a similar league on the East coast called the Cape Cod League.

All of this was good. The best was talking baseball with my grandsons, son-in-law and my daughter.


Rick Blechta said...

I know where you're coming from, John. (And I don't mean BC.) Some of my most enjoyable moments have been spent in small ballparks watching young teams do their thing. And I've seen some surprisingly good ball, too!

John the Tomahawk Trembath said...

I remember getting to some Hog Town Bomber games coming in from some out of the way location where I just had meetings. I always proud to sport my newest hat for the collection. Often much lower level then MLB. I collect hats from parks and games I have attended (including MLB). I saw some wonderful ball and beautiful parks. Here's are short list: Rochester Red Wings, Buffalo Bisons, San Antonio Mission, Salt Lake City Trappers (also Edmonton Trappers), Tide Water Tides, Peninsula Pilots, Las Vegas Stars,London Tigers and Nashville Sounds. I went to a lot of these games with my dear friend and mentor Lew Waldek. A true fan. Every game was an experience.

Larry Toman said...

Hi John, you bring back so many memories of watching Daniel and Chris playing ball, and it was indeed special. This is where it all begins. The love and passion for this great game not marred by the huge contracts and often outrageous egos. The experience of discipline and team effort prove to be valuable life lessons down the road for other encounters. Thanks for the memories and the article. Cheers.