Darren Doucette Drafted By Cardinals (1992)

1992 doucette

Doucette spent the 1992 season with the Hamilton Cardinals.

Most of the information in this post is from the Daily News archives from June 1992.

On June 1, 1992 Doucette was drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals in the 25th round (699th overall) in the MLB Amateur Draft.  Doucette, 20 years old at the time, was playing for the Dartmouth Moosehead Dry of the Nova Scotia Senior League that spring after finishing his college season at Ulster College in New York state.  During the college season he hit .308 with four homers and 31 RBI in 37 games.  He was a NCAA Division 3 All-American.  He had received two scholarship offers from Division 1 schools but signed a contract with St. Louis instead.

Doucette would sign a minor league contract the next week and reported to the Cardinals’ New York Penn League affiliate in Hamilton, Ontario (the Redbirds).  He would receive $800 a month with a four figure signing bonus.  On June 15, Doucette got a single in the seventh inning on opening day (against the St. Catherines Blue Jays) in a 1-0 win.  He lead the team in home runs and RBI for much of the season until an arm injury ended his rookie campaign.

Quotes:

  • “I am excited, I’ll, tell you that.  I wasn’t expecting St. Louis” – Doucette, on getting drafted.
  • “I just got my bags unpacked, now they’re almost packed again” – Doucette, on returning from college, then heading away to Hamilton.
  • “The Cardinals took my family to dinner and afterwards we went over the contract from about 10 pm to 4 am.  (The length of discussions) wasn’t a matter of not being happy with the offer.  We had to go over a lot of details.  There was a lot of reading between the lines.”
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Hello Canada, and Baseball Fans in the United States and Mauritius

world views

Countries in pink are where Maritime Pro Ball has at least one view.

The stats pages for WordPress includes a map and list of countries where people have viewed your posts. It also includes the option of seeing the all-time lists of where people are viewing your material. The two countries that have viewed these pages the most are not surprisingly, Canada and the United States. The top ten is rounded out by Brazil, Australia, Netherlands, United Kingdom, India, Russia, Mexico and the Czech Republic. Not bad for a site that specialized in Maritime baseball. Granted, I do expand to other sports from time to time and do some general baseball stuff.

The most intriguing thing is some countries where there are only one or two hits from. These include the likes of Aruba, Guyana, Mongolia, Belarus, Mauritius and “European Union”. I even have hits from Communist countries like China, Vietnam and yes, Cuba. Other countries where I have hits from include (but are not limited to): the UAE, Cayman Islands, Kazakhstan, Singapore, Jersey, Bahrain & Bermuda. In total people from 89 countries (including the ambiguous European Union) have visited since blog since I launched it in 2013. Much of the world is covered, with the biggest holes being Africa and the eastern part of the Middle East.

In case you are wondering, Mauritius is an island in the Indian Ocean about 2000 km off the coast of Africa. It gets my vote as the most obscure country where a hit has been registered for this blog. The title of this post is obviously a reference to Foster Hewitt’s opening to Hockey Night in Canada, “Hello Canada, and hockey fans in the United States and Newfoundland.” Speaking of Newfoundland, my post on Newfoundland connections to Major League Baseball is another popular post on this blog.

The most recent country to record a visit to the blog is Iceland. Which is strange as I was just thinking the other day, “Wouldn’t it be fun if someone from Iceland visited the blog.” A couple of days later, I registered a hit from there. My ultimate fantasy would be getting a hit from the Pitcairn Islands, that would be wild as the islands are in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, hundreds of kilometers from the nearest civilization. The population of the islands is only 50. Aside from that, it is fun to see where people are viewing this blog from.

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Atlantic Canadians Playing College Ball, 2000

2000 year

My annual lists of Atlantic Canadians playing college baseball in the United States tend to be one of my more popular posts in terms of hits.  I am going to expand on the series by including years prior to 2014 (the first year I tracked the East Coasters), starting in 2000.  That is the first year archived by the Canadian Baseball Network, which if you’ve been following the blog, that’s where I get all my information regarding guys playing college ball.

As usual, players will be listed by position, name, hometown, class & university.  Also, this includes all divisions of NCAA, NAIA, junior college and community college.

  1. P Jason Bailey, Dartmouth NS, Sophomore, Pasadena Community College (CA)
  2. 2B David Barr, Fredericton NB, Sophomore, Southern Nazerene University (OK)
  3. P Jeff Brewer, Fredericton NB, Freshman, University of British Columbia
  4. P John Burns, Fredericton NB, Senior, Northeastern University (MA)
  5. OF Alan Cantwell, Saint John NB, Junior, Louisiana State – Shreveport
  6. SS/OF Jeff Chishom, Truro NS, Sophomore, Dutchess Community College (NY)
  7. P Andre Duval, Hartland NB, Sophomore, Wayne State (NE)
  8. SS Josh Ferguson, Saint John NB, Freshman, Husson College (ME)
  9. P Derek Finnigan, Rogersville NB, Freshman, Florida Junior College
  10. P Jamie Franey, Shearstown NL, Freshman, Des Moines Area Community College (IA)
  11. P Ryan Harris, Woodstock NB, Sophomore, University of Maine
  12. P Christopher Levine, Truro NS, Sophomore, Southeast Louisiana University
  13. P Scott Marine, Saint John NB, Senior, Manhattan College
  14. C Greg McGinnis, Fredericton NB, Freshman, Babson College (MA)
  15. SS Drew Palmer, Rothesay NB, Freshman, University of Southern Maine
  16. OF/IF David Parsons, Gander NL, Sophomore, Des Moines Area Community College (IA)
  17. P Brooks Saunders, Fredericton NB, Sophomore, Southern Nazerene University (OK)
  18. P Pete Sonier, Summerside PE, Freshman, Hawaii Pacific University
  19. 1B Jerry Stone, St. John’s NL, Freshman, Warner Southern College (FL)
  20. P Craig Tredenick, Cornwall PE, Trinity College (CT)
  21. OF/P Tom Van Wart, Saint John NB, Sophomore, College of the South West (NM)
  22. P Jared Whitehouse, Woodstock NB, Junior, Mayville State College (ND)
  23. P/DH Andrew Wright, Woodstock NB, Sophomore, Concord College (WV)

Wow!  A total of 15 players from New Brunswick were on college rosters during the 2000 season, many of which were from Fredericton.  Considering there were three Major Leaguers from the province at the time (Stairs, Comier & Dickson) the late 1990’s and early 2000’s were the heyday for the sport in the province.  The proposed Canadian Baseball League team for New Brunswick could have used some of this local talent had it gotten off the ground.

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Joel Irvine Drafted By Yankees (1991)

I will start a new series detailing times a East Coast baseball player has been drafted by a Major League organization.

Imagine being drafted by your favourite teams arch rival?  This happened to Joel Irvine back in 1991.  Irvine, a Dartmouth native, was a huge Red Sox fan but was drafted in the 74th round (1550th overall) by the New York Yankees.  Irvine played junior college baseball at Des Moines Area Community College in Boone, Iowa that spring.  He was drafted as a catcher, but also played in the outfield.  As a catcher, he hit almost .300 with five home runs.

Irvine, who was 19 at the time, received word that he was drafted by telegram, after all this was 1991.  Irvine would later play several seasons with the Dartmouth Moosehead Dry of the Nova Scotia Senior Baseball League.  His first NSSBL season came in 1990, when he was a member of the Dry’s Nova Scotia and Atlantic championship teams.

Some quotes from Irvine about the draft:

  • “The Red Sox are the Yankees arch enemy, but I could become a Yankees’ fan real fast”.
  • “I’m kind of ecstatic, but I’m trying to keep it low key”.
  • “I was told I had a good camp, but I’ve only had one year catching and catching is one of those positions you just can’t learn it in a day.  It takes years and years of practice”.  He has attended an evaluation camp just two weeks prior to the draft.  The quote also gives some solid advice to all young catchers out there.
  • “I figure if they drafted me on Wednesday, it was pretty late (The draft started on a Monday).  But still, just getting drafted is pretty good”.

Unfortunately, Irvine would never sign with the Yankees.  He would later play NCAA Division 1 baseball at the University of Toledo, a member of the Mid-American Conference.  As a member of the Dry he would win the 1997 and 2010 NSSBL batting titles.  He would win MVP awards in 1997, 2003, 2007 & 2010.  Irvine would also be NSSBL home run champion in both 1997 & 2007 (sharing the title on both occasions).  He would add RBI titles in 2007, 2009 & 2011.  Irvine would also lead the league in stolen bases from 1995 to 1997 and from 2000 to 2004.

The next time the Yankees drafted an Atlantic Canadian was Jake Sanford in 2019.

 

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Cole MacLaren Signs With Tigers

Maclaren playing for the Morell Chevies of the Kings County Baseball League in 2017 (courtesy of the Journal Pioneer).

Cole MacLaren, a catcher from Morell, Prince Edward Island has signed as a free agent with the Detroit Tigers organization. Maclaren, who recently completed his senior season at the University of Pittsburgh went undrafted in this month’s First Year Player Draft.

This past season he hit .247 with seven doubles and three home runs for the Panthers. He is a product of the Okotoks Dawgs Baseball Academy in Alberta. MacLaren played his first two seasons of college baseball with Colby Community College in Kansas before joining Pittsburgh for the past two seasons.

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Alex Lawrie, Professional Umpire

lawire

Jake Sanford isn’t the only Nova Scotian in professional baseball this season (courtesy Sports and Moore YouTube).

Just to give a quick shoutout to Mineville’s Alex Lawrie who this week started his professional umpiring career in the Gulf Coast League.  Lawrie earned his spot in pro ball by completing the Minor League Baseball Umpire Training Academy this past winter.  Only 20% of academy students are hired by Minor League Baseball.  He becomes the first Nova Scotian to umpire professional baseball since Troy Blades (Clark’s Harbour) left the International League at the end of the 2002 season.

Lawrie started umpiring minor baseball at the age of 13.  He was umpiring in the Nova Scotia Senior League by the time he was 18.  He also umpired in the independent Can-Am League the last two summers.  The process to get to the Majors is even longer and more drawn out than it is for players.  The umps continue up the ranks level by level and cannot skip a level in the minors.  They spend a season at one level and if their performance is good enough, their promoted to the next one the following summer.  It can take up to ten years to reach the Major Leagues.  Lawrie is quoted, “They say it’s the longest job interview in the world”.  He is not kidding.

Fredericton’s Matt Whipple umpired in the Gulf Coast League in 2017 and in the New York Penn League last year.

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The Time the Windjammers Played in the Playoffs

Windjammers

With the Toronto Raptors playing the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals, and leading the series 2-1, the whole country is talking about basketball.  Today, I am going to tell the story of the only time the Halifax Windjammers played postseason basketball.  You might be thinking, hey the Windjammers never made the playoffs in their history.  The team’s Wikipedia entry shows that they missed the playoffs in 1991 (their first in the World Basketball League), the WBL folded on August 1, 1992 so there were no playoffs.  The team would join the new National Basketball League for 1993, but also missed the playoffs.  The team would be in first place in the NBL during the 1994 season, but the league would fold on July 9 of that year.  Like the WBL of two years prior, there would be no playoffs.  But, what if I told you the Windjammers played playoff basketball in August of 1992?  On the surface that would make no sense since the league they were in folded on the first of the month.

The Lead-Up to the Playoffs

The crazy thing is, there was a short lived league in August of 1992, one of the shortest lived sports leagues to actually play a game.  Not only that this league had no regular season, the four member clubs would go straight to the postseason.  Let me introduce you to the North American Basketball Association.  The NABA rose from the ashes of the newly defunct WBL.  The WBL folded on August 1, 1992 after the first place Dayton Wings folded due to a dispute with the league.  The WBL (which owned 60% of all franchises, save for Winnipeg) were not meeting their financial obligations to the club.  The team was also concerns with teams not showing up to games until the last minute (due to players not being paid).  There were also concerns the referees would boycott over lack of payments.  That left the league with just six teams and league founder Mickey Monus (who had problems of his own) decided to pull the pug on the remainder of the season.  The surviving six were the Calgary 88’s, Halifax Windjammers, Hamilton Skyhawks, Saskatchewan Storm, Winnipeg Thunder and Youngstown Pride.

Before folding, there was talk the league was going to suspend their regular season and immediately go to the playoffs.  There were plans of holding two, three team round robin tournaments (beginning August 10) with the winners of each qualifying for a championship series.  These tournaments would have been played in Halifax and Winnipeg, the two most financially successful teams.  The league wasn’t interested in this and planned on continuing with the regular season which was scheduled to conclude on August 20, with playoffs starting August 22.  They would change their mind and fold the league days later.  The final Windjammers game, as members of the WBL, was an exhibition game against the Marathon Oil All-Stars.  This game replaced a previously scheduled game against Jacksonville which was canceled with the later folded.  Dayton was the fourth WBL team to fold that season.

Going into an August 4 press conference there was talk the five Canadian teams (Calgary, Halifax, Hamilton, Saskatchewan & Winnipeg) would finish off their seasons against each other.  There was also talk that the recently defunct Dayton Wings would join them.  Rumours about this ranged from finishing the season under a revised schedule, going straight to the playoffs, or just playing a series of exhibitions against each other.  There was also talk of the Canadian teams breaking away and forming their own league the following season (spoiler alert: that would actually happen in the form of the National Basketball League).  As we know, there was a Canadian league in 1993 but that doesn’t answer the question, how did the ‘Jammers play in the 1992 playoffs?

At that August 4 press conference it was revealed that three of the surviving six teams, along with the defending champion & first place Dayton Wings would play a revised four team playoff to determine a champion.  It was announced that beginning August 6, there would be two best of five semifinals.  The matchups were Dayton vs. Winnipeg and Calgary vs. Halifax with all games being held in Winnipeg and Halifax.  The two host teams paid all expenses for their visitors (hotels, meals, salaries, travel, etc.).  These matchups were based on the final WBL standings.  The Wings were the first seed while there opponents were the fourth seed.  The 88’s and Windjammers finished second and third respectively.  Strangely, the lower seeds were given home court advance for the entire series.  Again, this was based on finances, not on records.  The finals would also be a best of five series.  For the finals, all games would be in Winnipeg if they played Calgary and all games would be in Halifax if the Windjammers had played the Wings.  If the finals were Halifax vs. Winnipeg, the series wold be split between the two cities.  Nothing was said about the possibility of a Dayton vs. Calgary final.  Hamilton and Saskatchewan choose to sit out the playoffs with the hopes of joining an all-Canadian league in 1993.  Youngstown, who finished the WBL season in third place chose to fold instead of continuing.

In the meantime, the four playoff teams committed a total of $100,000 to stage a tournament to determine a champion for the season.  Since they didn’t own any trademarks of the WBL they had to use another name.  As alluded to earlier, they went by the name North American Basketball Association for the playoffs.  The teams would also added some investors to help out as the league owned 60% of the franchises when they were in the WBL.

The Playoffs

The Windjammers would win game one of their semifinal series against the 88’s.  The final score was 128-112, with Keith Smart scoring 23 points and 8 rebounds.  Mack Joyner had 27 points and a game high 13 rebounds.  Former NBA player Jim Thomas would score 24 points for Calgary.  The team wore their away jerseys for the game.  In a uni-watch moment (before there was an acutal Uni-Watch) the game report notes the Windjammers removed the WBL crests from their uniforms and Calgary did not.  The attendance was 4078, far short of the 6000 or so the team needed to average to break even for the NABA playoffs.  That same night, the Wings beat the Thunder in a wild one, 136-130 at Winnipeg Arena to take a 1-0 lead in that series.

The next night, the 88’s tied the series at 1-1 following a 129-108 victory.  Jerry Stroman had a game high 34 points for Calgary.  Roland Gary had 22 points and 9 rounds for the 88’s.  Louis Banks lead the Windjammers with 26 points, while Keith Smart and James Anderson had 16 and 13 points each.  The game was played in front of a crowd of 3687.  This was a concern as the team needed more fans to make ends meet as they were paying all expenses for both teams.  Attendance was also a concern in Winnipeg, where they drew only 4500-ish fans to game one against Dayton.  Low attendance was also a concern going forward as the NBL was still in its playing stages and wanted to included the former WBL clubs.

Game three (on August 9) was more bad news for the Windjammers as they lost to the 88’s again, this time by a 120-102 score.  Halifax actually held the lead at halftime 56-52 but it was all Calgary in the second half.  The bad news extended to the box office as game three only drew 3325 fans, continuing the downward trend and falling far short of what they needed.  Mack Joyner would score 22 points for the ‘Jammers and Keith Smart would contribute 16 points, 9 rebounds, 5 assists and 4 steals.  For Calgary Stroman and Chip Englelland would score 20 points each.  Future Toronto Raptor Chris Childs would have a double-double with 17 points and 12 rebounds.

The Calgary 88’s would take game four and the series with a 115-104 victory on August 11.  Like in game three, the Windjammers held the lead at halftime (61-56) but Calgary would comeback to win.  Halifax’s leading scorer was A.J. Wynder with 26 points, followed by Mike Ratliff with 24.  Calgary was lead by again by Jerry Stroman, with 28 points.  Attendance did pick up on this night, with a series high crowd of 4181 in the Metro Centre stands.  Counting the playoffs, Calgary would go 7-2 against Halifax in 1992.  With their elimination from the NABA playoffs, the Windjammers future reminded uncertain for the following year.  Despite winning the series, the 88’s future was just as uncertain as there would be no guarantee the North American Basketball Association would play a final series.

The problem was, the Dayton Wings were up 2-0 in their semifinal series in Winnipeg.  As mentioned earlier, both the Wings and 88’s were homeless and it was uncertain what would happen if both teams won their semifinal series.  It was not a surprise that this happened as Dayton and Calgary were the two higher seeds (finishing first and second respectively) despite being on the road for the postseason.  There was talk that Winnipeg would host the series in this event but no official word either way.  On August 18, the newly formed NABA canceled their championship series and many Calgary players balked at the money involved.  They felt it was better for them to go home early than play the final series.  This means the Halifax Rainmen’s forfeit of game seven of the 2015 NBL Finals was the second time in Canadian basketball history a team forfeited away a championship.  The plan was to finish the Thunder vs. Wings series then call it a day.  Thunder owner Sam Katz did in fact agree to host the finals even if the Thunder weren’t in it but that was now a moot point.  One of the 88’s owners offered the players $300 a game plus a $500 bonus if they won but they didn’t accept the offer.  Also, after the Halifax series the teams was down to seven players, included one that was injured.  It is unclear if that series was ever actually finished.

Post-Mortum of the NABA

That is the story of the short-lived North American Basketball Association.  The league was formed on August 4, 1992 and played its last game about a week later.  That’s got to be some sort of record.  The league, which actually played some games, announced the season was over just 15 days later.  Since Halifax was eliminated, Calgary gave up and Dayton was leading 2-0 over Winnipeg at last check; that would have to make the Dayton Wings the only NABA champions in their two week history.  So, I guess owner Milt Kantor can claim his team was back to back champions as they beat Calgary in the 1991 WBL Finals then “won” the NABA tournament.

On May 1, 1993 the NBL tipped off with teams in Cape Breton, Halifax, Montreal, Hamilton, Winnipeg and Saskatoon.  The Windjammers, Skyhawks and Thunder were holdovers from the old World League (and in Halifax and Calgary’s case the very short lived North American Basketball League).  The Saskatoon Slam were under separate ownership of the old WBL Storm.  The Montreal Dragons and Cape Breton Breakers were brand new expansion teams.  The Dragons would fold on June 10 and the Skyhawks would (how is this for a minor league basketball move) relocate to Edmonton for the playoffs.  The Breakers would finish in first place and beat the now Edmonton Skyhawks 3-0 in the semifinals.  In the other semifinal, the Slam beat the Thuder 3-2 to set up the finals.  In shades of the previous year’s WBL/NABA playoffs, the lower seeded Slam hosted the entire finals against the Breakers.  The Slam would win 3-1 and the Cape Breton owner wouldn’t pay for this players way home.

In 1994, the Breakers would comeback under new ownership and surprisingly, no teams would fold.  The five teams that finished 1993 would be joined by the expansion Calgary Outlaws.  The league itself, would disband on July 9, when the Halifax Windjammers were 15-9 and in first place.  The Cape Breton team would finish 11-10.  Speaking of the Breakers, in the weeks leading up the league’s demise the team was subjected to relocation rumours.  The rumour mill had the team moving to either Saint John, Moncton or Hull in midseason.  There was a deal done with Saint John in late June but it fell through and the team reminded in Sydney.  Pro basketball wouldn’t return to Halifax until the Rainmen tipped off in the ABA in 2007.  The Rainmen would play eight seasons in three seperate leagues (ABA, Premier Basketball League & NBL Canada).  They were replaced with the Hurricanes in 2015 (team folded after the fiasco that lead to forfeiting game seven of the finals in Windsor, Ontario).  Pro hoops returned to Cape Breton in 2016 with the NBL Canada’s Highlanders.  Professional basketball would come to Saint John in 2010 when the PBL Manchester Mill Rats moved to the city.  The team would join NBL Canada a year later and rebrand as the Riptide in 2016.

Sources for this post are from articles from the time from both the Halifax Daily News and Toronto Star.

 

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