Canada Cup tough on parents, players
* Labbat Park at sunset, there were still smiles, despite the rain on Day Two of the Baseball Canada Cup ….
By April Whitzman
LONDON — A rainy day in old London town could not dampen the enthusiasm of participants on Day Two of the Baseball Canada Cup.
Despite dreary weather, players were all smiles as they entered both Labatt Park and Dan Pulham Field looking to improve the records of their provinces.
“It’s an honour to be here, representing my province,” said Prince Edward Island’s starting pitcher, Spencer Horne, who threw 123 pitches to get the complete game win in his team’s 8-1 defeat of Manitoba, where he allowed only one run on three hits, while striking out six.
“What has been a bonus in this tournament is that we have been playing well as a team and no one expects us to find such success since we are from such a small province,” said Horne.
Before Nova Scotia’s 3-2 win against Saskatchewan (which finished at 12:30 am), Nova Scotia coach, Jim Mosher, who enters his sixth year with the team, reinforced how the Baseball Canada Cup offers opportunity for smaller provinces.
“Nova Scotia has a deep baseball tradition but baseball does have some disadvantages out East,” Mosher said. “Population is definitely a key factor. In the East we do not have the weather or the indoor facilities to prolong the season and develop players year round so a lot of our players are forced to look for opportunities outside of the province.
“During the school year, many of our players go West to attend academies. They then return when the school year is over and join the team. This creates a lot of disconnect and a lot of challenges for us, so our program is not as fine-tuned as provinces who have teams that play together all year.
“But despite these challenges, the Canada Cup, provides a great opportunity for our players and it becomes very important for our team as it’s something they aspire to and work very hard for. They know that at this age level this is a great opportunity for them and that it’s a privilege for them as it provides opportunities to extend their careers in baseball. Those opportunities are few and far between for players in Canada, and certainly in Nova Scotia.
“The Canada Cup provides a chance to be looked at by pro scouts but to look combining baseball with education. They all aren’t looking to be pro prospects, they are looking for a way to play at the highest level they can. They see the Canada Cup and this team as a way to do that. It has really been a motivational tool as the Baseball Canada Cup is a big part for Nova Scotia to develop players and get more people interested in the game in Nova Scotia.”
Greg Hamilton, Baseball Canada’s Director of National Teams, further discussed how valuable tournaments such as the Baseball Canada Cup can be, and how talented each province is this year.
“There is great talent at the Baseball Canada Cup this year,” Hamilton said. “Looking at some of the alumni’s, such as Justin Morneau, Brett Lawrie, Jason Bay, you can tell that Canada is full of high calibre players that have come through this tournament. We are going to see some of these guys potentially play in the majors one day.”
When asked if larger provinces have a greater advantage in tournaments such as these, Hamilton indicated that the reason that British Columbia, Ontario, and Alberta have stronger players and are discussed more heavily is due to population.
“More players are playing the game in larger provinces, so by virtue of pure numbers, you are going to see more players, that’s how it works. If you look at Ontario, the numbers are relative to the rest of the country, and if you look at B.C. there are advantages weather-wise and the opportunity to play regularly. So, I think there are different reasons, but the three larger provinces in the country, usually by and large, will have the vast majority of stronger players.”
Corey Kavanagh, Team New Brunswick’s catcher, who caught the whole game in his team’s 4-0 win over PEI, was on the same page as the notion that certain provinces are put in a disadvantage.
“We don’t have the same opportunities in New Brunswick as they do here [in Ontario], we don’t get the chance to get outside as much,” Kavanagh said. “For instance, we’ve only practiced together a handful of times for this tournament, but teams such as Alberta and Ontario, get the chance to be out there every day.”
Interestingly enough, the parents at the tournament, however, were less focused on the challenges of being from a smaller province, but instead, the difficulties of raising a ball player.
Susan Arseneault, mother of Brady Arseneault, PEI’s pitcher, indicated that being a parent of a player has its many challenges.
“To put it simply, it becomes quite a financial burden,” Arseneault said. “You are continuously travelling long distances to tournaments and games. It requires a lot of commitment of time, dedication and patience. “
Grace Larkin, mother of Taylor Larkin, another PEI pitcher added, “The biggest thing about raising a ball player is the expense and the commitment of time. The summers are so short so they are always playing the entire weekend, every weekend.”
Jarret Milligan, Larkin’s younger brother, said, “It’s pretty tough to be a brother of a player too as it gets annoying because my parents can’t always be around and when they are, they are busy with baseball.”
Mrs. Cestosini, mother of Jeff Cestosini, a pitcher for Team Quebec, the DH, going 1-for-4 with an RBI, in his team’s 6-4 loss to Alberta, added, “We definitely don’t get to have a family vacation in the summers because it’s all about baseball.”
Mrs. Tellier, Antoine Tellier’s mother, pitcher for Quebec, added, “As a parent you aren’t only in charge of supporting them during each game, but we also have to encourage them after each game, which is definitely harder after a loss. Our work is never done. I don’t know how many times I’ve said, ‘It’s only a game.’”
After Manitoba’s 8-1 loss to PEI on Thursday, Meredith Quark, mother of Manitoba’s pitcher, Nelson Quark, concluded, “You pray and give up everything so they can have the opportunity to make the team. But when they do, it’s incredibly nerve-wrecking, time-consuming, and scary. It’s definitely harder to be a parent than a player during tournaments like these.”