Play Ball 2006! Baseball P.E.I.
In the ninth of 10 provincial association profiles, Baseball Canada speaks with Baseball P.E.I. president Don Leclerc about the 2006 season.
BASEBALL CANADA (BCAN) – In no particular order, what five events or initiatives are you looking forward to the most for the 2006 baseball season?
1. Baseball Canada National Midget Championship
DON LECLERC (DL) – We’re obviously looking forward to hosting the Baseball Canada National Midget Championships in Summerside August 24 to 28.
BCAN – After having hosted the National Pee-Wee Championships for a number of consecutive years, how does the dynamic of this particular weekend change?
DL – It’s a bit more challenging, I think, for the host group. There was a lot of tradition associated with the Pee-Wee championship, the billeting of athletes and related things. The other main difference is that two fields will be utilised in contrast to the one field that was used for the other event. There are some challenges like those, but there are a lot of experienced people involved in the organization of this tournament and I think that everything will work out very well for them.
The Midget championship was scheduled to go to New Brunswick, but the host site changed their mind and Summerside was approached based on their history of hosting tournaments. Officials discussed it for a while and decided to undertake the challenge.
From a Baseball P.E.I perspective, I see it as a wonderful opportunity to grow baseball in the western part of the province, particularly in the younger age groups. When the younger kids can see the Midget athletes competing at a high level it will give them something to aspire to and become involved with.
2. Athlete Development Clinics with Morgan Carlile
*Morgan Carlile – Summerside, P.E.I.: Played for Baseball Canada’s 2004 National Junior Team; drafted by the New York Mets in 2004 MLB entry draft; posted ninth lowest ERA and third highest win total in Campbellsville (KY) University History; helped the Thunder Bay Border Cats to a Northwoods Baseball League Title in 2005; Named top left-handed pitcher on the 6th annual SLAM! Canada Canadian College All-Star Team.
DL – We’ll be booking 25 clinics with Morgan across the province for kids aged 8 to 12-years-old between mid-July and the end of August. Morgan, will be home with his family this summer and when we learned that he would be here and available we thought that would be a good fit. He’s a tremendous young man apart from his baseball abilities and is an excellent guy to be working with this age group. Helping Morgan will be members of a 12-person group of high-performance coaches.
I think it’s a big deal for the kids to have the opportunity to go to a clinic that’s hosted by somebody from P.E.I. because they can see first-hand the results they can achieve with commitment and hard work. These kids are going to have a nice positive experience.
3. Increased Registration
DL - We’re extremely pleased to have seen our team registrations go up from 56 teams to 87 teams this year. I think some of that is due to an increased focus on trying to grow baseball from the bottom levels on up. For a number of years the focus may have been on Selects programs, the Canada Games program and other related programs. We really believe that you need to nurture the growth you have at the grassroots level. We’ve encouraged a lot of local association to become more involved with this movement.
We’re strongly promoting the Rally Cap Program within our associations in order to put significant focus on the younger age groups. The challenge we need to address is maintaining their involvement for the next 10 years.
This increase in registration numbers bodes very well for the future of baseball in the province if we can deal with it appropriately and if we make sure that each and every one of these kids has a positive experience that will bring them back next year.
BCAN – By adding so many teams to the system, certain challenges are bound to arise. What kinds of challenges are you faced with and how are you going about tackling those issues?
DL – There are a lot of scheduling challenges because access to fields in many communities are somewhat limited since there could be a number of teams vying for the use of the same facility on the same night. There are cases where two teams might try to schedule a home game on the same field where there’s very little flexibility. The way to deal with these is to keep the lines of communication open by meeting frequently and sharing as many ideas as possible.
Our new executive director Kelsey McIntosh has been a godsend and came on board on a very opportune time because he’s been able to devote a lot of time to these logistical issues.
4. New Mosquito ‘A’ League
DL – For the first time, we’ve organised a provincial Mosquito ‘A’ League, which will be an adult-pitch league for kids who aren’t of the calibre to play ‘AAA’ or ‘AA’. There will be 16 teams from across the province in the new league that will participate in a single round-robin schedule, which means each team will face all other 15 teams once during the summer.
There will also be a mid-season tournament in Cornwall on the last weekend of July and an end-of-season provincial tournament at a site that has yet to be confirmed on the first weekend in September. We hope this will be an interesting and exciting summer for these kids, who were often left in house league situations that may or may not have been all that satisfying. It’ll just be fun for the kids.
BCAN – For those who are not familiar with the term, can you explain briefly what defines an “adult-pitch” league?
DL – The coach or a representative of the team at bat will pitch to his own team. There will be a player who will position himself behind the adult pitcher to field any balls hit towards that position. In addition, the umpire will not call balls and strikes, but will keep track of the number of times the batter swings and misses (there are no called strikes and no walks). For the complete Mosquito ‘A’ Rules visit http://www.baseballpei.ca/2006MosquitoARules.pdf.
5. Preparation for 2009 Canada Games
DL – We’re looking forward to discussions we’ll be having with groups from Charlottetown and Stratford, which will be two of the primary sites for baseball at the 2009 Canada Games tentatively slated to be hosted by P.E.I.. We’re looking to work with them towards preparing a bid for Baseball Canada to host the 2008 Canada Cup or the 2008 Junior Championships because we’d like to have a little bit of a trial-run of the system and the facilities here.
That would be a tremendous opportunity to showcase the sport of baseball in the province. I think the aftermath of hosting the Games would have a great impact on registration in baseball the following year.
Play Ball 2006! Baseball Newfoundland