Baseball in Welland, Ontario?
I kid you not baseball fans. The Welland Jackfish make their long-awaited Intercounty Baseball League (IBL) debut this Saturday, May 18 at Welland Stadium against the London Majors.
Local IBL followers still lamenting the loss of the Niagara Falls Mariners in 1989 were certainly excited to hear the news that the IBL is back in the region.
Welland baseball fans of a particular vintage will remember the last time a semi-professional took the field in Welland were the Niagara Stars in 2003.
Before that, you might recall Tim Wakefield making his professional debut with the Welland Pirates (1989-1994) of the New York-Penn League.
Personally, I’m very excited; it’s been a long time since I took in a game that didn’t cost me an arm and a leg to get it. In fact, the last game I watched in Niagara was the St. Catherine’s Stompers in the summer of ’96 when Joe Lawrence played for the team.
Baseball is My Jam
As a child, baseball was my sport. I bat second in the lineup; in the field mainly played second base and occasional pitcher (sorry to the many batters I hit). Little League didn’t require much in the way of effort or physicality which was perfect for this portly writer.
But as you might imagine, as I got older and the competition more athletic and faster, it was more difficult to keep up. In fact, in the summer of 1992, I had the distinct dis-honour of being the slowest runner in Pony League in Kenora, Ontario.
However, I never did lose my love for baseball. The hand-eye coordination required to hit a fastball or curveball is one of the hardest things to do in sports. And don’t get me started on a perfectly placed throw to second to catch a runner stealing or a laser from the outfield to catch a runner trying to go from first-to-third.
But my absolute favourite part of the game is the chess match between managers; I love small ball. Sacrifice plays are the best part of the game.
Sure, a 450-foot bomb is a wonder to watch but slashing base hit opposite of a shift takes me out of my seat.
I’m not sure what to expect from the Welland Jackfish as they take the field this Saturday (providing the weather cooperates, of course) but I know one thing; I’m excited to see some good baseball.