Roberto Alomar sells out in Regina

By: Danny Gallagher

Canadian Baseball Network

Roberto Alomar is always in demand.

Just the other day, the Cooperstown Hall of Famer and Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame member threw out the first pitch at the Buffalo Bisons’ home opener. From what we hear, he has started a small business that arranges for guest speakers at various functions.

On April 23, Alomar is putting his own speaking skills to the test. The Blue Jays’ legend is headed to one of my former stompin’ grounds, Regina, where I played from 1985-87 with the Red Sox of the Saskatchewan Major Baseball League.

Alomar is the headline speaker at the sold-out Red Sox annual dinner and auction at the Turvey Centre presented by Water Warehouse, a long-time water-treatment company. Nine agents from Century 21 Dome Realty Inc. in Regina are sponsoring Alomar’s gig. After all, celebrities like Alomar don’t travel anywhere without some sort of compensation.

About 550 people will attend the 12th annual affair with almost of the sales coming from corporate tables.

“Roberto has come to Regina a few times for the Honda baseball camp so he has a kind of a soft spot for Regina,’’ Red Sox president Gary Brotzel said in an interview. “In the past, we’ve had people like Tommy John, Duane Ward, Rick Cerone, Jose Canseco, Devon White, Jesse Barfield and Steve Rogers as guest speakers.’’

How the Red Sox operate nowadays is decidedly different from my days with the organization when we had adult-aged teams in both the Regina city league and in the Saskatchewan Major Baseball League. We did recruit the odd American for the provincial league team, but mostly we were comprised of players from Regina.

As what seems to happen from time to time with decades-old organizations, the Red Sox became defunct for several years until Brotzel and a group came along in 2005 to get things back up and running.

The modern-day Red Sox play in the Western Major Baseball League, a collegiate entity which has an age range of 18-22. Other teams in the league are the Lethbridge Bulls, Weyburn Beavers, Medicine Hat Mavericks, Okotoks Dawgs, Swift Current Indians, Edmonton Prospects, Yorkton Cardinals, Melville Millionaires, Moose Jaw Miller Express and two new Alberta clubs: the Brooks Bombers and Fort McMurray Giants.

That gives the WMBL six teams in both Alberta and Saskatchewan.

“We’re allowed 16 Americans on a 27-man roster,’’ Brotzel said. “The rest have to be Canadian. We play a 48-game schedule from May 29 to July 30. This is our 12th year in the league.’’

Brotzel said the Red Sox average about 650 fans per game at Currie Field, the long-time home park for the organization, dating back many decades. Bernie Eiswirth is the Red Sox general manager and Mitch MacDonald is the head coach assisted by Geoff MacDonald and Randy Ramirez. Cory Carter is pitching coach, Rob Cherespuschak is director of recruiting and Rye Pothakos is assistant director of recruiting.

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Danny Gallagher

Danny was born in Ted Lindsay's hometown of Renfrew, Ont. but his roots are in nearby Douglas. He played 27 consecutive seasons of top-level amateur baseball in the senior ranks in Ontario, Saskatchewan and Quebec and thrived on organizing events himself, the major one being the highly successful 1983 Canadian senior men's tournament in Sudbury. He began covering the Montreal Expos in 1988 when he joined the Montreal Daily News. Later, he was the Expos beat writer for the Ottawa Sun and Associated Press. He has written four baseball books, including Remembering the Montreal Expos, which he co-authored with Bill Young of Hudson, Que. Gallagher and Young are currently working on a book about the ill-fated 1994 Expos squad. Gallagher can be reached here: dannogallagher@rogers.com