Henderson headlines Dawgs banquet
* RHP Jim Henderson (Calgary, Alta.) the first Okotoks Dawgs grad to make the majors will headline the sixth annual Okotoks Dawgs Awards Banquet Feb. 2 ….
By Jonathan Hodgson
The Okotoks Dawgs are hard at work gearing up for maybe the highlight of the off-season, the annual awards banquet.
This event is coming approaching quickly, as the sixth annual Okotoks Dawgs Awards Banquet is scheduled for the evening of Saturday, Feb. 2 at the Foothills Centennial Centre.
Get your tickets today by calling the Dawgs at 403-262-3294; $100 per ticket, or $800 per table.
The Dawgs are staying in the family for this year’s guest speaker, as Dawgs alum Jim Henderson will address the crowd. A graduate of the Dawgs Academy & 2003 Dawgs Summer Collegiate team, Henderson became the first member of the organization to reach the majors when he got the call from the Milwaukee Brewers this past July. The hard throwing right-hander took full advantage of his chance in the Bigs, recording a 3.52 ERA and 45 strikeouts in 30 innings.
Accolades continue to pour in for the Dawgs grad in recognition of his breakthrough 2012 campaign. Following the conclusion of the season, Bob Elliott of the Canadian Baseball Network named Henderson the Canadian Minor League Pitcher of the Year for his all-star season he turned in at triple-A Nashville before his July call-up. The visionary behind the CBN, Elliott has a lengthy career as a baseball journalist, which earned him him the J.G, Taylor Spink award in July this past summer in Cooperstown, NY.
Henderson has been nominated for the 2012 Tip O’Neill Award, an honor handed out annually to the Canadian baseball player “judged to have excelled in individual achievement and team contribution while adhering to the highest ideals of the game of baseball.” Past winners include the likes of Larry Walker (nine-time winner), Joey Votto, and Henderson’s teammate, John Axford.
Finally, Henderson has been rated as the best relief pitcher in the Brewers system.
“It is always an honor to be recognized in the Dawgs community,” said Henderson, speaking about returning to Okotoks to support his original baseball family. “I am very excited to share my story with the Dawgs and the town of Okotoks. It is always a joy to return to my baseball home.”
Henderson is spending his offseason living at home in Calgary while helping the Dawgs Academy as a winter instructor and training for his 2013 season out of the Duvernay Fieldhouse at the Dawgs Baseball Complex in Okotoks.
The Dawgs other award winners, which will be presented at the banquet …
MVP: Austin Voros
A veteran Dawg, Austin Voros took his game to a whole new level in his third, and final year as a Dawgs player. The Surrey, BC native was slotted into the middle of the Dawgs lineup playing left field early in the season, and was never moved out of the role. After challenging the .500 mark for several weeks, Voros ended the season hitting a team leading .339 adding two homeruns, five doubles, and 24 RBIs. His .444 on-base percentage also led the team.
“Austin Voros was our best player this past summer,” said Dawgs managing director, John Ircandia. “He batted .400 for the first half of the season, contributed several clutch hits and was a leader in the clubhouse. Truly our 2012 MVP.”
Pitcher of the Year: Matt Thornton
The imposing right-hander Matt Thornton returned for his second summer in Okotoks in 2012, and really came into his own, taking the closer’s role and running with it. The UBC product out of Campbell River, BC made 17 appearances this past summer, working to a 3.20 ERA in 19 2/3 innings. In that time he struck out 24 batters and walked only two. His nine saves barely missed the WMBL single-season saves record by one. Thornton has signed to return to Okotoks in 2013.
“Matt Thornton was outstanding as our closer last season,” said Ircandia. “He challenged the WMBL record for saves in a season and in close games was absolutely money in the bank.”
Rookie of the Year: Jerod Bartnik
Another UBC T-Birds product, Jerod Bartnik had a tremendous rookie season in the Dawgs outfield in 2012. Coming off of his freshman season, he hit .270 in 37 games, with four homeruns, seven doubles, and 22 RBIs. The native of Surrey, BC has signed his contract and returns to the Dawgs in 2013, and figures to provide a real impact bat from the left side as he continues to progress.
“Jarod Bartnik came to the Dawgs with a reputation as a promising young hitter and did not disappoint,” said Ircandia. “He had long ball potential and even as a freshman he made you excited to see how far his bat would grow in his freshman year.”
True Grit Award: Rylan Chin
Rylan Chin is a natural choice for the True Grit Award. The second baseman is a tireless worker, and battled for everything he got during his three-year career with the summer collegiate Dawgs. But it goes back further than that, as the Strathmore, Alta. native was raised in the Dawgs Academy, graduating in 2009.
“True Grit Player is someone who dedicates himself to his team … head-first slides, diving stop of ground ball to keep it in the infield, stealing the key base, taking the inside pitch to get on base,” said Ircandia. “He’s easically the player who knows what it means to be a Dawg and puts it on the field.
“Rylan Chin is the embodiment of a true Dawg. He’s a great athlete who can make defensive plays that make you shake your head. He can jump on a fastball and drive it. He gives 110% all the time. A consummate winner … A True Grit Dawg.”
Also commemorated at this year’s banquet will be the Dawgs Midget Academy’s 2012 National championship team.
The sixth annual Okotoks Dawgs Awards Banquet is set for Feb. 2 at the Foothills Centennial Centre in Okotoks. The evening begins at 6:00 pm with happy hour, with dinner to follow at 7:00 pm. World-class auctioneer, and friend of the Dawgs, Don Oberg will run the live auction. Both the live and silent auctions will again feature many incredible pieces of sports memorabilia and experiences as well as vacation packages that could all be yours!
Call the Dawgs at 403-262-3294 to reserve your tickets today! All proceeds from the Awards Banquet go towards the support of the Dawgs youth programs and facilities.