Tucker one Dawg who left the Island to train

Okotoks Dawgs Hall of Fame guest speaker Gregg Zaun of Sportsnet with INF Cole Tucker (Mount Pearl, Nfld.)

Okotoks Dawgs Hall of Fame guest speaker Gregg Zaun of Sportsnet with INF Cole Tucker (Mount Pearl, Nfld.)

By Bob Elliott
Canadian Baseball Network

OKOTOKS _ The name Cole Tucker is becoming common place in athletics.

It’s not quite like John Smith yet but consider ... here a Cole Tucker, there a Cole Tucker, every where a Cole Tucker.

Like ... when there was Cole Tucker drafted in the first round by the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2014 (24th over-all). Shortstop Tucker was born in Phoenix and spent last season with the class-A West Virginia Power.

Or like ... forward Cole Tucker who skates for the Toronto Titans in the Greater Toronto Hockey League midget loop. He is the son of former NHLer Darcy Tucker, from Castor, Alta.

Or like ... Cole Tucker who plays infield for the Okotoks Dawgs.

We may have had one Tucker born in the baseball hot bed of Arizona, who grew up to be a first rounder, another by the same name whose pop played 15 years with the Montreal Canadiens, Tampa Bay Lightning, Toronto Maple Leafs and the Colorado Avalanche and a third ... 

It’s still early but our other Cole Tucker (Mount Pearl, Nfld.) has travelled a long journey: from the Mount Pearl Blazers to Florida at the IMG Academy and then west to wear an Okotoks Dawgs uniform.

The most interesting sight to date?

“We were driving around Okotoks when we stopped at a train crossing,” said Dawgs coach Allen Cox. “Cole told me it was the first time he’d ever seen a train.

“Cole was the best player in Newfoundland last year. The year before the best was probably Ryan Morgan (also at Oktokos now).”

How does an Alberta coach discover whom the best player in Newfoundland is?

Cox found out the easy, painful way at the Baseball Canada bantam nationals in Vaughan.

How much fun was it for Cox? Well he watched from the other dugout as Tucker

_ Doubled in a run in the first for a 2-0 lead.

_ Singled in a run in the second as Newfoundland went up 4-1.

_ Popped up in the third with Newfoundland ahead 7-2.

_ Reached on an error in the fifth as Newfoundland tied the score 9-9.

_ Tripled in the tying run in the bottom of the seventh and scored the winner moments later scored on a single.
 
Newfoundland is not supposed to knock off Alberta. Tucker made it happen.

“He hit the ball off the fence off one of our guys who hadn’t given up an extra-base hit all year,” Cox said.

Tucker hit .353 (6-for-17) with a double, triple and six RBIs in five games for coach Stephen Donahue on his second-straight trip to Vaughan.

Cox approached Tucker asking if he wanted to become an Okotoks Dawgs in the fall. 

Tucker is fortunate his mom Paula, who works in the pharmacy at Memorial University and father Cory, who works in the house construction, were so supportive and baseball minded as he was. They sent him to camps in Florida for sessions three different years.

“They didn’t want to hold me back,” said an appreciative Tucker at the annual Dawgs Hall of Fame banquet. “I grew up loving the game and they want me to play. 

“My parents put me down the path of success.”

Tucker, who has moved all the way west from the Island misses his family and friends, always threw the hardest as a mosquito-aged or peewee player. 

Tucker’s goal is to play college ball south of the border, a decision he made at an early age. He attended Doyle Baseball Camp in 2013, spent three weeks at the IMG Academy the next summer, earning Athlete Of The Week (July 21-25) and played in the World Summer League at IMG (June 21-Aug. 08) in 2015.  

Besides the Mount Pearl Blazers bantams, was captain and a centre in Mount Pearl Minor Hockey and played hoop for the Mount Pearl Senior High Huskies. Despite all the time in uniform, Tucker owns a 93 average (4.0 GPA) and has applied for the the Duke of Edinburg award.

Tucker has already been selected to the Canada Summer Games Team in 2017, was nominated for Youth Athlete of The Year for Mount Pearl and Baseball Athlete of the Year for city of Mount Pearl. And he played for Canada on the Cuba Goodwill Tour Team as the visitors brought roughly 1,000 pounds of baseball equipment for local players.

Now, if Alberta and coach Cox runs into Newfoundland with Tucker at either the Baseball Canada Cup in Fort McMurray, Alta. or at the midget nationals in Summerside, PEI ... they will be prepared.