Elliott: A son and father Pote team

RHP Conor Pote of the Okotoks Dawgs, a 2022 draft. Photos: Michelle Prata.

RHP Conor Pote of the Okotoks Dawgs, a 2022 draft. Photos: Michelle Prata.

By Bob Elliott

Canadian Baseball Network

Lou Pote sat about 12 rows up from behind home plate.

Lou Pote said he wasn’t nervous.

This was despite the fact he owned an 0-1 record and a career 14.21 ERA in six games at the building formerly known at SkyDome. In 6 1/3 innings, Pote allowed 10 runs on 11 hits and seven walks against the Blue Jays.

Outside of Arizona’s Bank One Ballpark -- one inning, two runs -- it’s the highest ERA Pote owned in 129 appearances covering 219 2/3 innings.

But Pote was at the seventh annual Tournament 12 to A) Coach and B) Watch his son Conor Pote pitch for Black against Team Red. His 15-year-old son, a grade 10 student, all 6-foot-6 of him, would be taking to the Rogers Centre mound trying to throw the ball past hitters three years his senior.

Lou Pote said he wasn’t nervous about watching his son.

“He always had told me he never sweats when he pitches,” poppa said. “Last year Conor pitched here against Quebec. I waited for him up on the concourse and the first thing he said was ‘I’ve never sweated that much before.’”

Pote said he tells all his Okotoks Dawgs pitchers -- Simon Lusignan (Varennes, Que.), Andrew Yusypchuk (Edmonton, Alta.), Jackson Fraser (Buenta Vista, Sask.), Dryden Howe (Okotoks, Alta.), Tyrelle Chadwick (Kamloops, BC) and his son -- the same thing:

“This place is just like our home park of Seaman Stadium -- except it has a lot of cool stuff behind the plate,” Pote said. “It’s like in that movie Hooisers where they get to the championship, everyone is in awe and coach measures the basket -- same height as Hickory.”

* * *

“I hope Conor doesn’t become a pitcher only,” said Les McTavish, coach of the Vauxhall Jets, who sees the Okotoks Dawgs more than anyone except for Dawgs coaches. “Against his own age he is a dominant hitter. He had 12 home runs this year as a bantam.”

* * *

Looking back to his first game for the Anaheim Angels on Aug. 11, 1999. The Angels were down 3-0 when the phone rang. Pote admits he froze before beginning his warmups.

“My first three pitches hit the rocks in centre field,” Pote said.

Awaiting for him on the other side of the fence was a Cleveland Indians lineup of Dave Roberts, Omar Vizquel, Robbie Alomar, Manny Ramirez, David Justice, Richie Sexson, Alex Ramirez, Enrique Wilson and Einar Diaz.

Then, he got the call and heeded Troy Percival’s warning: if an attendant is not on the gate, grab the fencing, don’t grab the padding of the door.

“They put Under Armour on the pads to make them shiny, then your hand get slippery,” said Pote, who claimed he had his fastest pen to mound clocking. “(Manager) Terry Collins said ‘Second and third, have fun,’”

Pote worked three innings giving up a run in a 4-3 loss.

* * *

“I couldn’t have pitched here in a major-league stadium like Conor did last year as a 14-year old,” pop said.

* * *

Pote said Carlos Delgado was always a tough out.

“He hit a walk off, off The Windows Restaurant and one in Anaheim. The inning, the game, it always seemed to come down to him.” Pote did whiff Delgado once.

“I struggled sometimes with Kansas City and against the White Sox -- too many friends and families watching,” said the Chicago south sider, who grew up a block from the stadium attending de La Salle High.

In August of 2000, David Martinez singled with one out in the 10th and Delgado left the building on a 3-2 pitch. In a two-inning outing in May of 2001, Delgado hit a lead-off homer to make it 7-0 on the way to a Blue Jays 9-3 win.

* * *

“I don’t have any regrets on my career,” said Pote, who pitched in 129 games, amassing 219 2/3 innings.

If he could write a letter to his young self?

“I tried to be coachable, but in the end I listened to everyone, I was trying to be lights out, trying to be so perfect,” he said.

* * *

Pote recalled an April 2000 visit the Jays made to Edison Field. He pitched 1 1/3 innings allowing a run on a Shannon Stewart single in a 5-4 Angels win.

The next night Jason Dickson (Chatham, N.B.) pitched 6 1/3 innings, departing with the score even at 2-2. Mark Petkovsek took over and fanned Shannon Stewart, but then hit Homer Bush -- the same Homer Bush whose son was playing for the Green team Wednesday -- Brad Fullmer doubled in two runs. Pote took over and gave up two-run homer to Tony Batista.

Five days later Petkovsek allowed a solo homer to Raul Mondesi. Tony Batista was hit by a pitch and Darrin Fletcher singled to load the bases. Brad Fullmer hit a 2-2 pitch for a grand slam. That was it. One batter faced and he was hooked.

“They brought in Derrick Turnbow next, it was his major-league debut,” recalled Pote.


* * *

This summer the Dawgs were in Nashville. Conor was pitching. The Dawgs were in the first base dugout. The right-handed hitter was late with his swing and fouled a ball over the Okotoks dugout. Conor went with a breaking ball on the next pitch and the hitter pulled it to left for a hit.

“I went out to the mound and asked what was going on? Conor said ‘I thought he was on my fastball.’”

* * *

Conor issued a lead-off walk, two strikeouts (one which reached the screen) and then got a double play ball in his 19-pitch first, where his fastball was clocked at 87 MPH.

In the second, he opened with two walks, two wild pitches, two strikeouts and a single before two more walks in a 34-pitch inning.

And in the third, he had a strikeout, two walks and two base hits as he finished with a 73-pitch, three inning outing.

Ontario Terriers LHP Connor O’Halloran (Mississauga, Ont.) showed maturity and pitchability fanning seven in three innings, as he allowed one hit.

* * *

You could say poppa Pote took one for the team in April of 2001 coming on with the Angels down 5-1. In 2 1/3 innings he faced 16 hitters in the 12-4 loss as ...

Mondesi walked and then singled.

Brad Fullmer singled twice.

Tony Batista walked and hit a two-run homer.

And Jose Cruz hit a three-run homer which made Pote’s final line: seven runs on six hits and two walks.

In an August series at Edison Field, Pote worked 4 1/3 scoreless as the Jays won in extras on a Jose Cruz homer.

He did have two scoreless innings in 2002 and two in 1999.

* * *

Conor thought for a second before answering.

“I don’t think I’ve ever thrown that many pitches in a game, maybe once,” Conor said. “The game against Quebec was a better outing.”

* * *

The old race track saying is that there is a story in every stall. There were better stories -- in the eyes of some -- than the Pote family inside the Rogers Centre. You can read them on this site.

I met Conor Pote on Feb. 1 in Okotoks as he threw a bullpen. The next night trainer Savannah Blakely, photographer Angela Burger, fireman Geoff Scott and Lou Pote saved my life. Lou Pote raced to get the defibillator lmachine in the lobby of the hall. , Dawgs managing partner John Ircandia had the foresight to have his coaches take training the month before.

So once again thanks.

It just seems so inadequate.

* * *

Walking into the building Wednesday morning a cross checker without any knowledge of my relationship with the Potes told me, “Conor Pote might be one of the best players in the building. I saw him work out and he was the best arm at the Okotoks facility … AND he had not even showered since scoring 28 points or whatever in a hoops game. He’s one to dream on … real easy.”

It’s early.

Only 993 days until the June draft in 2022.

* * *

Looking good, feeling good: Scouts were still talking about OF Owen Caissie (Burlington, Ont.) going into the second deck twice on Tuesday ... About Academy Baseball Canada’s Joshua Jones (Blainville, Que.) ... Vauxhall Jets C Max Grant (Fredericton, NB) ... About Northshore Twins’ Ben Columbus (North Vancouver, BC) ... Okotoks Dawgs OF Max Hartman (St. Albert, Alta.) ... About FieldHouse Pirates INF Bryce Arnold (Grimsby, Ont.) ... About Mid-Island Pirates Connor Caskenette (Duncan, BC).

* * *

90 and up class: Langley Blaze RHP Theo Millas (Burnaby, BC) exceeded 90 MPH pitching for Orange in their romp over Black ... Coquitlam Reds’ RHP Jack Seward (Port Moody, BC) was 91 MPH and Toronto Mets’ RHP Drew Howard (Whitby, Ont.) was clocked at 90 ... Vauxhall Jets’ RHP Maddux Mateychuk (Dominion City, Man.) surpassed 90 MPH ... Mateychuk’s father played for the Mayville State Comets and his brother was drafted into the WHL by Moose Jaw.

* * *

Back in time: Last Manitoba arms to hit 90 MPH: 19th rounder RHP Herbert Andres (Elon, Man.), who went from the Abbotsford Cardinals to the Pittsburgh Pirates and RHP David Parker (Winnipeg, Man.) drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 43rd round of the 2002 draft from Oklahoma City University.

* * *

On the Mark: Toronto Mets OF Caden Shapiro (Toronto, Ont.) son of Blue Jays president Mark Shapiro had a pair of hits.

* * *

Missed it by that much: Ontario Blue Jays speedy OF David Calabrese (Maple, Ont.) saw his two-run single turned into an out. Umpires ruled that he had missed first base, after Okotoks Dawgs 1B Connor Crowson (Okotoks, Alta.) noticed the mis-step.

* * *

Recruiters watching from four and two-year schools (one add): Kentucky, Sacramento State, Gonzaga, St. John’s, Utah, Illinois, Illinois State, Northern Kentucky, Campbell, University of British Columbia, Iowa Western, Howard.

* * *

Pro scouts watching from major league teams (three adds): Anaheim Angels, Arizona Diamondbacks, Boston Red Sox, Chicago White Sox, Cincinnati Reds, Colorado Rockies, Detroit Tigers, Kansas City Royals, Milwaukee Brewers, Minnesota Twins, New York Mets, New York Yankees, Oakland A’s, Philadelphia Phillies, Pittsburgh Pirates, San Diego Padres, San Francisco Giants, Seattle Mariners, Texas Rangers and Toronto Blue Jays. Royals scouting director Lonnie Goldberg is on hand. Usually teams have one or two players here. However, a number have three scouts here, including cross checkers. Not that this June is a bumper crop, but the Canadian Junior National Team will not be making its annual trip to Florida since it just returned from the World 18U in Korea.