Tucker making Newfoundland proud at T12
By Tyler Partridge
Canadian Baseball Network
TORONTO - Mount Pearl native Cole Tucker is one of those promising young stars that hopes to one day become baseball’s first Major Leaguer from the Rock.
A 17-year-old infielder for Atlantic Maroon here at the annual Tournament 12, he’s part of a three-player contingent representing Newfoundland that includes Cameron Brewer and Daniel Hogarth, both of Conception Bay.
For Tucker, being first in The Show, would “be surreal.”
“Obviously it’s never been done,” he said, sitting in the stands at the Rogers Centre following a workout in front of professional scouts and college recruiters. “I think we had one guy drafted from Corner Brook in the 1980s but (nothing) other than that. It would be a dream come true.”
That “one guy” was Frank Humber, who played 81 games in the Dodgers system in 1989 and 1990, but never got past class-A.
This will be Tucker’s second T12 appearance. He regularly plays with the top-rated Okotoks Dawgs, a baseball academy in Alberta.
“Up in Okotoks, Alberta, we practice every day relentlessly, 6 a.m. workouts and all that,” he said. “Just seeing where people are at (in baseball) back home, I’m glad I got out (to Alberta) and am training hard to get to where I’m at today.”
In the 2016 tournament, Tucker batted .273 with a .429 on base percentage during five games. He batted cleanup for the Atlantic team that made it to the semi-finals, losing 2-1 to British Columbia.
“It’s just crazy. The way we get coaching, these guys look at the game differently,” Tucker said about playing at the T12. “You can tell these guys have been in the game and playing baseball for a long time.”
The closest thing Newfoundland and Labrador has had to a representative at the major league level is current Toronto Blue Jays coach John Gibbons.
He was born in Montana, raised in Texas, but really is a man of the world. His father William was an optometrist in the US Army and the family moved a lot, including stops in Puerto Rico and Goose Bay, Labrador.
In 1969, his dad was posted at the air base and young John played his first Little League game on the shores of Lake Melville in Labrador.
Tucker believes the future of the game in Canada’s youngest province is bright.
“They’ve got the Jays (Honda Super) Camp that goes around, I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many Newfoundlanders play baseball at one time,” Tucker said. “For Newfoundland it’s definitely getting the ball rolling for baseball."