Monday, August 6, 2012

Edmonton Baseball

As I've said in the past, I am a huge baseball fan.  I have fantasy baseball to thank for this.  I'm a big fan.

Being from Edmonton, I have no home town team to cheer for.  I don't mind the Blue Jays, but I was an Expos fan for the most part.  As  result, the Washington Nationals are interesting to me.  Though, I hate their name and their jerseys and the fact that they're not in Canada anymore.

My team is the San Francisco Giants.  My mom gave me a book about a pitcher named Dave Dravecky. It was a good book and the guy was a very inspiring fellow.  So, sometime back in the '90's, I decided to like the Giants, Dave's former team.

The cherry on top is that, on our most recent trip back to Canada, I found a Giants hat that actually fits my large head.

In a recent post, I talked a little bit about the history of baseball in Edmonton.  From my findings, and from my own experiences when I was a young fellow, I know that baseball used to be a big deal in Edmonton.  I would go to Edmonton Trapper games all of the time.  At one point, we watched Devon White just before his jump to the big league.  We watched the legend Fernando Valenzuela on a rehab assignment.  It was nice to see some famous players from time to time.

Baseball was big in the city.  Not hockey big, and not even CFL big, but it had it's fans.  In fact:

Edmonton was the most successful, longest running, and second last triple A team in Canada which gave the city of Edmonton the name Baseball City of Canada[

Eventually, the team was sold to Nolan Ryan and moved to Texas, where I am sure they had more than enough teams at the time.  The rest of the sad ending is summed up here:

The last home game, a sizeable crowd filled the stadium to give the Trappers a final sendoff against the Las Vegas 51s. The game, however, was rained out after only one inning.

And that was that.

Fast forward a few years, and Oilers owner Daryl Katz buys the weakly supported, poorly named Edmonton Cracker-cats.  He changes their name to the equally horrible name "Capitals" (think "Nationals", but more local) and the team played a few years in the low ranks known as The Golden League.  The team, and league suspended play for the 2012 season when some of the owners of other teams couldn't pay the rent or something. It's that kind of league.

So, it was to my delight when I drove past Telus Field a few weeks ago to see that people were parking their cars to go to the Edmonton Prospects game.  I was plunged back into disappointment when I noticed that there were about 200 people in the stadium for the game, a stadium that used to house the Trappers, a team that would draw a few thousand fans for each game.

A few weeks later I found out that The Prospects forfeited their final few games of the year because... well, I don't know.  The confusing details are here.

Hopefully the city gets something sorted out.  That stadium is beautiful, and yet it just sits there.  They need a team.  Maybe the Capitals will be back and Katz and the gang can save the day yet again.

But let's back up to my original post.  I talked about the old days.  The days dating back before places like Fenway park in Boston and Tiger Stadium in Detroit were even existed. Yes, I talked about their older brother Diamond Park in Edmonton.

Diamond Park was built 2 years before the above mentioned legends.  It was home to the Edmonton Eskimos before WWI.  Pretty cool stuff.

Though Diamond Park is long gone now, I found out that there is still a ball park on the original site.  I searched the Internet but could not find a photo of it.  So, of course, I drove down there last month and snapped one off myself.

Original site of Diamond Park, Edmonton

What's the point?  Well, it's sad to see baseball fall to such a low level.  It has such a rich history in the city.  Old men took their grand kids to the games and now those grand kids are sitting around without a baseball game to take their grand kids too.  It's kind of sad.  Hopefully things get straightened out sooner than later.

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