By Matt Betts
Canadian Baseball Network
The youngest franchise in the Intercounty Baseball League are taking part in just their eighth season in the league.
The Burlington organization has spanned two cities and three names as they continue to try and nail down an identity in the storied IBL. Although this is their eighth season occupying Burlington as their home city, they can trace their roots back to the 2009 season just 39.3 kilometres up the highway to Mississauga. The current Herd were born in ’09 as the Mississauga Twins but lasted just two seasons there before uprooting to their current home.
From 2011-2013 they remained the Burlington Twins before rebranding themselves as the Burlington Bandits until 2016. Looking for a closer connection to the community they again changed their name in 2017 to the Herd. The name Herd has special meaning to baseball people in the city as it intertwined with the Burlington Organized Minor Baseball Association whose team name is the Bulls. The team plays their games at Cosgrove Park or better known to fans as “The Barn”.
The Herd carried a 81-174 record into the 2018 season. Blue Jays fans can relate to the team as New Hampshire Fisher Cats outfielder Connor Panas donned the Burlington jersey in 2012 and 2013, hitting .298.
The Herd placed one player on the IBL’s Top 100 list earlier this year. Branson Joseph (Mississauga, Ont.) spent four seasons in the league, all with Mississauga/Burlington. His 494 at-bats and 157 hits are both franchise records.
Joseph’s accomplishments spanned far beyond the IBL. He represented Canada at the 2005 World Junior Championships and hit .273 in seven games. He later left for school to play for then head coach Mike McCrae (Niagara Falls, Ont.) at NCAA Division I Canisius College. There he was named to the All-Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference in 2008 after hitting .312 with 11 home runs and 43 RBIs. During his college playing days from 2006-2009 he was a .290 career hitter with 25 home runs and 156 RBIs in 213 games played. He got on base at a .393 clip and slugged an impressive .463.
The Herd have yet to enjoy a winning season with their best year being in 2015 when they finished 15-21. The franchise is also looking for their first playoff series win. The closest they have come was a 4-3 series loss in the first round to the London Majors in 2015. The team finished 13-23 during the 2017 season.