By Bob Elliott
Canadian Baseballl Network
OKOTOKS, Alta. _ No one knows for sure how brightly the light went on or whether the bulb illuminated at all.
Noah Geekie chose baseball over hockey.
Remember in the comic books when someone has a great idea? A light bulb would show.
We’re pretty sure that the light went on, along with a wide-eyed country smile after Geekie saw the lights registered on the radar gun after his first bullpen last month.
Last fall Geekie was clocked at 75-76 MPH with the wind at his back.
After working out over the winter, eating his meat and potatoes and doing the drills prescribed by pitching coaches Lou Pote and Jeff Duda, he threw his first bullpen indoors at the Duvernay Fieldhouse at Seaman Stadium this winter.
And his fastball was clocked at 87 MPH.
“I wouldn’t say that I was shocked, maybe I was taken by surprise,” said Geekie sitting in the lobby of Fieldhouse on Okotoks Dawgs Hall of Fame weekend. Long time Dawgs coach Dave Robb (Lac Le Biche, Alta.) and Greg Hamilton (Ottawa, Ont.) coach of the Canadian Junior National Team were inducted.
Geekie smiled when he was told not to expect another similar jump 97 MPH in his next bullpen session.
Before the 87 he had interest from one school for next fall.
The day after the 87, his video was posted on FieldLevel, Inc. a private social network for sports recruiting and scouting. And within days, Dawgs coach Allen Cox was receiving texts and phone calls from schools.
Geekie has yet to decide where he is headed but he has interest from Central Arizona, Barton, Indian Hills, Southeastern Illinois, Wennachee Valley, Mesa, Lincoln Trail and Chandler Gilbert.
Now in grade 12, Geekie made the decision to choose between hockey and baseball last fall. Like most two-sport teenagers, it is never an easy decision. But most teenagers don’t have such a lopsided family tree tilting toward the rink:
_ Craig Geekie, Noah’s father, played four seasons in the Western Hockey League -- 1990-91 to 1993-94 -- the first three with the Brandon Wheat Kings and one with the Spokane Chiefs, before turning pro and playing seven games with the Oklahoma City Blazers in 1994-95.
_ Morgan Geekie, Noah’s older brother, is in his third full season with the Tri-City Americans in the WHL. Morgan was selected in the third round of the 2017 NHL draft by the Carolina Hurricanes. The centreman has combined to score 70 goals in his three junior seasons.
_ Conor Geekie, Noah’s younger brother, is a bantam goalie.
_ And Noah himself played one game in the Manitoba Junior A League with the Swan Valley Stampeders as a call up from the Yellowhead Chiefs, where he had 26 goals and 46 points in 41 games. The Chiefs reached the provincial championship midget final before losing to the Winnipeg Wild. Noah was drafted in the second round by the Calgary Hitmen in the 2015 WHL draft.
Rather than joining The Hitmen, his choice was to prevent hitters from collecting hits.
“The main reason I chose baseball over hockey was that I have that extra passion and love for the game,” Geekie said. “I like hockey but I love baseball. I love playing it every day, I feel like it’s what I was meant to do and I love playing the game. It’s a great feeling and I hope I can keep playing for a long time.
“My father wasn’t upset. He played both growing up. My family was by my side all the way and happy with whatever decision. Making the decision took weight off my mind. It was a relief to choose and focus on the one sport.”
And while one might think that giving up hockey meant giving up early mornings ... not so fast. On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays this winter Dawgs pitchers gather at the Fieldhouse by 5:45 AM for an hour. There under Duda’s supervision they work with weighted balls, PlyoCare exercises arm care and the complete Driveline program designed by Kyle Boddy.
The Geekie family is from Strathclair, Man., a three-hour drive west of Winnipeg. Geekie says Strathclair (Pop: 744 in 2011) is not a one stop-light town.
“We have two grocery stores, a credit union, a hotel (The Strathclair Hotel) and zero stop lights,” Geekie said.
Dawgs coaches Tyler Hollick and Lou Pote watched Geekie throw a bullpen at the Home Run Sports Training Centre on King Edward in Winnipeg at the end of October.
At the Canada Summer Games, Geekie pitched 4 1/3 innings for Manitoba in an 11-1 win against Nova Scotia in Game 1. And then, Geekie pitched 5 1/3 scoreless allowing three hits in a 1-0 win over Alberta in the semi-final.
The Alberta lineup included Okotoks Dawgs such as Cesar Valero (Calgary, Alta.), Ayden Makarus (Aidrie, Alta.), Tucker Zdunich (High River, Alta.), Kye Seitz (Okotoks, Alta.) and Jacob Libbus (Turner Valley, Alta.). The game’s only run came with two out in the bottom of the sixth when Jordan Lussier (Winnipeg, Man.) was hit by a pitch and scored on a Tanner Boyle (Portage la Prairie, Man.) double.
Saskatchewan edged Manitoba 3-1 in the gold medal game at Shaw Park. Geekie helped the host province record a 6-1 mark. He allowed one run for an 0.72 ERA in two outings. He gave up nine hits and three walks, fanning nine in 9 2/3 innings pitched. At the plate, he hit .471 (8-for-17) with a double and six RBIs.
And at the 18U midget nationals in London, Manitoba beat BC 11-10 in the battle for seventh place going 3-3. He hit .500 (9-for-18) .500, with one RBI.
Besides pitching for his province, he also drove 20 minutes to play for the Hamiota Red Sox midgets and coach Jerry Crampain. As well as pitching, he played the outfield and first base for the Midwest midgets, the Brandon Marlins of the Manitoba Junior League and the Oak River Dodgers, a double-A senior team.
The lefty says he is most comfortable throwing his changeup, even in a 3-1 count.
Lefties Chris Sale of the Boston Red Sox and Randy Johnson, the former Montreal Expos Hall of Famer, are Geekie’s two favourite players. He hopes to pitch pro ball, but first will get an education.
Team Manitoba manager Faron Asham (Brandon, Man.) has described Geekie as a bullog who competes with a hockey mentality.
“The coaches have been great and I enjoy my billets,” said Geekie, who lives with Maree and Bob Okabe. Maree is a travel agent, while Bob works with autistic children.
Noah’s father, Craig Geekie, is a John Deere salesman and as we all know “nothing runs like a Deere.”
“I help out driving the grain cart or the combine on my uncle’s farm where family helps out,” Geekie said.
So, there is lots of John Deere green in Strathclair.
Now Geekie’s job is keep opposing hits from landing on the green of the outfield.