Baseball chases another speedy Ralph, Canucks lose

Lake Buena Vista, Fla. -- Baseball is entering the second decade of its love affair with the Ralph family of Raymond, Alta.And the Ralph family has returned the admiring glances from baseball. But not one of Jim and Shelly Ralph boys have signed a pro contract. Football has always been their love: Dustin Ralph, was a running back and a wide receiver, who was red-shirted with the Brigham Young University Cougars, transferred to the University of Wyoming Cowboys where he played in 1999-2000 and finished his football career with the University of Alberta. He played baseball for the Lethbridge Elks. Brock Ralph, was a wide receiver with Wyoming from 1999-2002 and now plays for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, after playing for the Edmonton Eskimos -- winning two Grey Cups -- and the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. Wayne Norton (Port Moody, BC) drafted the 6-foot-4, Brock in the 15th round for the Baltimore Orioles in 1999 but could not sign the speedy centre fielder. Brett Ralph was wide receiver with Wyoming in 2000 before transferring to the Boise State Broncos and now plays for the Calgary Stampeders. Brett played shortstop for Team Canada at the World Junior championships and made all the plays turning down offers from scout Bill Byckowski (Georgetown, Ont.) to turn pro with the Toronto Blue Jays. His teammate at the Worlds in Edmonton was C Russell Martin (Montreal, Que.) of the Los Angeles Dodgers. And now along comes Jimmy Ralph. Ralph may be the best point guard in Alberta, he plays wide receiver for Raymond High School Comets, coached by his father Jim and two years ago was only playing high school baseball. Now, he?s one of the best middle infielders in Canada and that?s why he?s here with the Canadian Junior National Team. Ralph was hitless but was in the middle of some play action along with SS Brandon Dailey (Brantford, Ont.) as the Team Canada National Junior Team fell 3-2 to the Houston Astros instructional league team Monday at Champion Stadium. Will baseball finally win one love affair with the Ralph family? "I don't know," Ralph says politely. "I've talked to six schools about football, two about basketball and one about baseball." The five schools interested in Ralph the football players are Brigham Young, Wyoming, Montana, Nebraska and Boise State; the schools interested in him are BYU and Portland and the baseball interest has come from former Montreal Expos second baseman Vance Law, who coaches BYU. "Ideally I'd like to go to school and play two sports," Ralph said. "I'll go for one semester and once I turn 19 I'll go on a mission, wherever the Mormon church sends me and then go to school." Ralph arrived to fall camp late as his Raymond Comets, the No. 2 ranked high school team in Canada -- despite having an enrollment of 210 students -- played Friday night against the Sand Point High School Bulldogs in Sand Point Id. losing 34-14. He caught 10 passes for 155 yards. "They got us this year, but we beat then last year," Ralph says with a smile. Seven of the eight graduating Raymond Comets moved on to play college football. The best receiver in the Ralph family? "Brock had 4.2 (40-yard dash) and 6.3 (60-yard dash) speed," Jimmy says, "they are different receivers. Brock made the NFL New York Jets practice roster. Brett was a more agile receiver who ran better routes." Asked to name the top three reasons to play football and the top three reasons to play baseball, Ralph begins: "No. 1, I'm comfortable playing football, No. 2 football has been part of my family and No. 3 ... " Ralph comes to a halt. "In baseball No. 1 would be what a challenge it is to get hits rather than TDs, No. 2 would be it is probably a better lifestyle, with a longer career and less risk of injury and ..." Ralph stops after two. He's told if he?d come up with a third good reason to play baseball, he?d have to pick baseball over football. Ralph responded with a laugh. An unearned run put the lead run ahead for the Astros in the eighth. Rowan Wick (North Vancouver, BC) hit three doubles to pace Canada?s seven-hit attack. Canada scored in the second when Justin Atkinson (Surrey, BC) singled and scored on a triple to right by Phil Diedrick (Mississauga, Ont.) triple to right. And Canada went up 2-0 in the fourth as Wick doubled to rick and Kellin Deglan (Langley, BC) reached on an error. After a walk to Diedrick loaded the bases, Wick was forced at the plate on a ground ball. Simon Brisebois (Masouche, Que.) singled home Deglan. RHP Mike Ellis (Surrey, BC) pitched three scoreless innings allowing one hit and striking out three. RHP Levi Westerlund (Oyen, Alta.) worked three innings allowing two runs on five hits and a walk. LHP Brian Smith (Pickering, Ont.) allowed one unearned run on three hits and a walk, while fanning three.