By Bob Elliott
Canadian Baseball Network
OKOTOKS, Alta. _ Turn on CNN and you might get the impression that there is an election coming.
Similar to the one Canada had in October ... except almost two years longer.
Politicians sometimes don’t tell stories as straight as the right field foul line.
They follow through on promises the way Charles Barkley follows through with his golf swing.
In many cases it’s like “the check is in the mail.”
And then there is Bill McAlpine, former mayor of Okotoks.
McAlpine and John Ircandia, volunteer managing director of the Okotoks Dawgs, made it happen.
The late Darryl K. (Doc) Seaman and McAlpine were inducted into the Dawgs Hall of Fame at the ninth annual banquet before a crowd of 500 on Saturday night.
Doc Seaman and his brother Don were principal donors behind Seaman Stadium the envy of any program from coast to coast.
The Dawgs tried to find a new home after tiring of fighting for diamond time and being treated like human beings. The Seaman brothers had made the cash commitment but in making the rounds they were turned down by the city of Calgary, the University of Calgary, Mount Royal University, the Tsu Tina Reserve and Aldersyde, where city council voted no 4-3.
Each group said no.
Each location said no.
And after going 0-for-5 ... they headed south to Okotoks.
“It was Mayor Bill who brought into vision of what the Dawgs and Seaman Stadium would mean for the residents and community,” said Ircandia in his intro.
The result at Seaman Stadium was an average of 2,900 fans per game, 5,000 on Canada Day (almost 1/5th the town’s population) and an infusion of cash into the local economy.
Ircandia told of one day “Mayor Bill” making his way to his seat when he was steered in another direction by the Big Dawg himself.
“Bill look at all that land immediately south of the stadium, what do you see?” Ircandia said
Mayor Bill replied that the soccer people wanted a new facility. Ircandia said “no, another ball field dedicated to kids.”
So Seaman Stadium begat the Duvernay Fieldhouse, which thanks to another future Dawgs Hall of Famer Mike Rose begat Tourmaline Field, which begat Conrad Field and improvements to Riverside Field.
Mayor Bill accomplished a lot in his four terms in office.
As for Doc Seaman, a man I never met, he sounds like one of the stout hearted men who tamed the west.
An athlete in his youth he was a decorated pilot in World War II before he and his brothers Don and BJ became big-time shooters in Canadian oil and gas.
He was a working rancher -- the largest bequest of ranch land in Alberta history -- and helped bring the Calgary Flames to town. Besides two honorary doctorate degrees with his engineering degree, he was presented with the Order of Canada.
Sounds larger than life John Wayne to me.
Seaman Stadium, which bears the name after Doc and Don Seaman donated millions, He passed in 2009.
And what would have pleased Doc is the fact that coach Allen Cox and his staff placed each student on scholarship ... going 19-for-19.
MR. ALBERTA: Sportsnet’s Gregg Zaun finished off his tour of the province as the guest speaker. Before Okotoks, he attended a coaching clinic at the University of Calgary, a poker night at the Deerfoot Inn and Casino, a celebrity dinner for the Brooks Bombers, an expansion team in the WMBL and a fund raiser for Doug Jones’ Badlands Badgers in Oyen.
“I didn’t realize that baseball was this popular in Alberta,” Zaun told the room.
Zaun spoke highly of his former manager Jim Leyland with the 1997 World Series champion Florida Marlins and said how the Blue Jays were in good hands with new president Mark Shapiro, whose father Ron Shapiro was Zaun’s first agent.
SUMMER WINNERS: Coach Dave Robb (Lac Le Biche, Alta.) of Mesa Community College and the Dawgs, presented the winners from the WMBL team
_ Pitcher of the Year, Dylan Nelson.
Nelson nearly quit after not being selected in the June draft. Arriving in Okotoks with something to prove, the former Cal-Berkeley Golden Bears pitched a complete game shut out in his debut. Nelson was 7-1 with a 2.23 striking out 60 in 56 1/3 innings.
_ MVP, Brian Sisler.
A junior from the Northern Illinois Huskies he batted .346 with 28 RBIs, led the Dawgs in hits. He was second in the WMBL in runs scored as he earned WMBL First Team All-Star honors.
_ True Grit, Kellen Marruffo.
During the regular season the hard worker hit three homers, six doubles and knocked in 20 runs. In the playoffs The University of Utah Utes bopper batted .455 and has committed to 2016.
Rookie of the Year, Daniel Fredrickson.
Freshman Freddie was the only player on hand so he gave the best acceptance speech ... and his talk was one of the best of the evening considering the full field of speakers.
On opening night he went 2-for-4 with a double before 3,000 fans. He hit .366 with 20 RBIs on his way to earning First Team honors.
Fredrickson said he had lost his love of the game after not playing a lot at Washington State University.
But the summer in Okotoks “restored my love of the game. Everyone talks about Okotoks having the best fans. That might be true, but it has the best family too.”
BENDER AWARD: The night’s most touching moment came when coach Allen Cox and Kim Bender, the widow of Jerry Bender presented the Jerry Bender award for dedication to the game. Bender passed at age 46 after battling cancer. He was involved in Calgary South Little League for over 20 years. He was their before his children played and he was there after ... Current and former Dawgs flocked to the funeral at Canadian Olympic Park ... And the first winner of the Jerry Bender award is none other than Aaron Bender, a Dawgs catcher.
JUMPIN’ JIMINY: Jimmy Henderson, the only Dawg to make the majors, flew in from Arizona to present the Jimmy Henderson trophy to Jake Rabe ... Rabe also earned Alberta peewee Player of the Year honors hitting .537 with 28 doubles and 50 RBIs. He had a .611 on-base percentage and scored 72 runs. On the mound he went 8-0 with a 2.00 ERA walking nine and fanning 96 in 63 innings.
HOF TABLE: Also on hand were previous Dawgs hall of famers: Blair Kubicek, a founding father of the Prairie Baseball Academy, Canada’s first college baseball program and now a part owner of the new WMBL team in Fort McMurray, Jim Henderson, former Milwaukee Brewers closer the first Dawgs grad among the dozens drafted, to make it to make the majors and Ircandia ... The Fort McMurray Giants and Brooks bringing the total number of WMBL teams to 12 with six teams in both Alberta and Saskatchewan. Fort McMurray will play out of Shell Place, an all turf field, with seating capacity of 3,000 fans. Dutche Iannetta is the majority owner.
ON THE MOVE: Henderson has signed a contract with the New York Mets. A member of the Brewers since 2009, Henderson made his first trip to Toronto and Rogers Centre for the first two games of the American League Division Series. His pal Yovani Gallardo left Henderson tickets. Gallardo pitched five innings allowing two runs to win Game 1 ... Henderson had 28 saves in 2013 for the Brewers. Drafted by the Montreal Expos in the 26th round in 2003, he has pitched in the Expos, Washington Nationals and Chicago Cubs organizations. ... Lifetime in the minors he is 41-38 with a 3.92 ERA. He walked 289 and struck out 541 in 675 innings.
STARS IN THE CROWD: INF Emerson Frostad, a former Calgary Dawg. Frostad was selected in the 13th round in 2003 draft by the Texas Rangers, played 10 seasons in the minors including five at triple-A retiring after the 2013 season. He’s now enrolled at law school ... ... John Ircandia’s father John, a good friend of Lewis-Clark State’s Gary Picone, who made the drive from Trail, BC with his good pal Lou DeRosa, who helped Jason Bay get to North Idaho Community College ... C Jordan Procyshen (Okotoks, Man.), who hit .253 with 13 doubles, two homers and 39 RBIs in 89 games split between class-A Greenville and class-A Salem in the Boston Red Sox system ... And C Chris Shaw (Winnipeg, Man.) who hit .187 with nine doubles, a homer and 10 RBIs in 36 games between rookie-class Gulf Coast Orioles and class-A Aberdeen ... Angie Cox who ran the whole operation ... Almost-a-lawyer Avery Buye, the former Taylor Swift look-a-like, was in the house with hubby Drew Stodalka and could now pass for Shania Twain. Dave Robb and his wife Dana were showing pictures of their grandchild Asher who is six weeks old. Someone else showed a picture of a five-month old grandson. Judge Avery ruled one was the best in Alberta, while the other was the best looking in New Brunswick. No punches were exchanged between the grand parents.
STILL GOT IT: To start off their session coach Val Helldobler had a Calgary South Little League team take turns lining up at home plate. Each player took two balls out of the bucket and tried to throw it threw a Goodyear radial standing upright near second base ... International scoring rules applied: two points in the ball went thru the tire, one if it hit the rim ... The Little Leaguers went up 9-0 and now it was time for the instructors to try and win. The current Dawgs instructing that day were Craig Spencer, Dayne Fredland, Ethan Jarvis and Justin King (Okotoks) ... Jeff Duda, Dawgs pitching coach took a turn and now with the gap 9-5 Lou Pote, Dawgs pitching coach was the last try for the coaches to force extras. Standing 15 feet behind the plate he bounced one through and then another to force extras. The campers won.