What If: Maritime Summer Collegiate Baseball

Let’s say that tomorrow it was announced a group of investors started a summer collegiate league based in the Maritimes.  I will go over some scenarios on what such a league could look like.  Scenarios will range from Maritime only league to leagues that include teams from outside the region (Maine, Quebec & Newfoundland).  The non-Maritime markets would be needed as a way of expanding the league’s reach in terms of fans and recruiting players.

Potential scheduling matrixes can be found here.  Yes, I did include suggested nicknames for all teams.  Some are traditional names for said cities, others are “minor league style” names I came up with and others are just names that I felt fit the city.

Scenario 1 (Maritimes only):

East Division
Cape Breton Steelers
Charlottetown Monarchs
Pictou County Albions
Summerside Crystals

West Division
Dartmouth Arrows
Halifax Privateers
Moncton Monks
Yarmouth Gateways

North Division
Edmundston Eskimos
Fredericton River Bandits
Miramichi Maple Sox
Saint John Shamrocks

Getting past eight or so teams means some smaller markets will have to be included.  I tried to include all regions of the Maritimes by going with a 12 team model.  I could have easily gone with an eight team model by eliminating Yarmouth, Dartmouth, Summerside & Edmundston.  This would have put the New Brunswick teams in one division and Nova Scotia & P.E.I. teams in the other division.  As I have mentioned in the past, if you want a bigger league then non-Maritime markets would have to be considered.

Scenario 2 (including Maine):

Maine Division
Augusta Capitals
Bangor Fenians
Lewiston Twins
Old Orchard Beach Surge

Central Division
Fredericton River Bandits
Miramichi Maple Sox
Moncton Monks
Saint John Shamrocks

East Division
Cape Breton Steelers
Charlottetown Monarchs
Halifax Privateers
Pictou County Albions

This is the eight team Maritime only proposal mentioned above with four teams from Maine thrown in.  As of this writing neither Bangor, Augusta or Lewiston have high level baseball and Old Orchard Beach (near Portland) is being served by an upstart independent league.  If that league fails then that would open up The Ballpark to someone else (has hosted collegiate summer ball in the past).  If the Surge and the Empire League are successful then the fourth team would have to come from somewhere else (Portland area, Calais, Houlton, etc).

Scenario 3 (Newfoundland):
West Division
Charlottetown Monarchs
Fredericton River Bandits
Miramichi Maple Sox
Moncton Monks
Saint John Shamrocks

East Division
Cape Breton Steelers
Corner Brook Royals
Halifax Privateers
Pictou County Albions
St. John’s Cod Kissers

Again, this is the big eight Maritime teams with Newfoundland teams added in.  Due to travel concerns, two Newfoundland teams would have to be included.  The downside is there is a seven hour drive between St. John’s and Corner Brook.

Scenario 4 (Quebec):
North Division
Chicoutimi Cucumbers
Rimouski Hommes Riviere (Rivermen)
Riviere-du-Loup Loups (Wolves)
Thetford Mines Miners

West Division
Edmundston Eskimos
Fredericton River Bandits
Moncton Monks
Saint John Shamrocks

East Division
Cape Breton Steelers
Charlottetown Monarchs
Halifax Privateers
Pictou County Albions

Under this scenario, I added a division in eastern Quebec.  Visiting teams can stop in Edmundston on the way to/from la Belle Province.  I traded Miramichi for Edmundston in this scenario for this reason.  For the record, there are about 4,000 fewer people in Edmundston than in the Miramichi.

Scenario 5 (Maine & Newfoundland):
West Division
Augusta Capitals
Bangor Fenians
Lewiston Twins
Old Orchard Beach Surge

Central Division
Edmundston Eskimos
Fredericton River Bandits
Saint John Shamrocks
St. Croix Downeasters

North Division
Charlottetown Monarchs
Miramichi Maple Sox
Moncton Monks
Summerside Crystals

East Division
Cape Breton Stealers
Corner Brook Royals
Halifax Privateers
St. John’s Cod Kissers

This is likely the least fesiable of all scenarios as it involves both border crossings to Maine and ferry (or air) travel to Newfoundland.  But interesting to look at, nonetheless.

Scenario 6 (Maine & Quebec):
North Division
Chicoutimi Cucumbers
Rimouski Hommes de Riviere
Riviere-du-Loup Loups
Thetford Mines Miners

West Division
Augusta Capitals
Bangor Fenians
Lewiston Twins
Old Orchard Beach Surge

North Division
Fredericton River Bandits
Miramichi Maple Sox
Moncton Monks
Saint John Shamrocks

East Division
Cape Breton Stealers
Charlottetown Monarchs
Halifax Privateers
Pictou County Albions

This scenario is alright as it divides up the two non-Maritime areas in their own divisions.  Travel could be done with one Quebec trip and one Maine trip.  This may mean not playing everyone at home and away during the season (as is the case in the West Coast League).  For example, Halifax could travel to Rimouski, Chicoutimi, Bangor and Augusta and host the other Quebec and Maine teams while not hosting the teams they visited.  This would reduce travel (expenses!) and maximize regional rivalries.

Scenario 7 (Canada only):
North Division
Chicoutimi Cucumbers
Rimouski Hommes de Riviere
Riviere-du-Loup Loups
Thetford Mines Miners

West Division
Edmundston Eskimos
Fredericton River Bandits
Saint John Shamrocks
St. Croix Downeasters

South Division
Charlottetown Monarchs
Halifax Privateers
Miramichi Maple Sox
Moncton Monks

East Division
Cape Breton Steelers
Corner Brook Royals
Pictou County Albions
St. John’s Cod Kissers

This would eliminate the need of border crossings at the Maine border.  The downside is longer bus trips to both Quebec and Newfoundland.  The trips to/from Thetford Mines and St. John’s would be brutal (32 hours).  Obviously, there would be games on the way to and from such destinations.

Scenario 8 (everything):
North Division
Chicoutimi Cucumbers
Rimouski Hommes de Riviere
Riviere-du-Loup Loups
Thetford Mines Miners

West Division
Augusta Capitals
Bangor Fenians
Lewiston Twins
Old Orchard Beach Surge

Central Division
Charlottetown Monarchs
Fredericton River Bandits
Moncton Monks
Saint John Shamrocks

East Division
Cape Breton Steelers
Corner Brook Royals
Halifax Privateers
St. John’s Cod Kissers

This scenario (as advertised), has it all.  It contains the Maritimes, Quebec, Newfoundland and Maine, including the travel headaches that exists traveling between all the destinations.  Divisional play would likely be emphasised under such a scenario.  On the plus side, it is mostly larger markets.  Exceptions would be Riviere-du-Loup, Thetford Mines and Corner Brook.  These markets are needed (unless the Can-Am League folds then replace the smaller Quebec teams with Quebec and Trois-Rivieres).  Corner Brook is needed in order to have two Newfoundland teams.

There you have it, eight scenarios where a summer collegiate league based in & around the Maritimes could look.  These would be the target markers where I would consider placing teams under such scenarios.  These are by no means official as in the real world interest (from both fans & potential owners) could alter where franchises would be placed.  The only set in stone conclusion is that any Maritime based league would have to include the big six markets.  Summer college baseball provides high level baseball to many communities across North America, where professional baseball (both affiliated & independent) is no longer viable.  It may be the region’s best chance at high level ball.

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Distance to Major League Parks (from Halifax)

Inspired by my trip to Toronto to see the Blue Jays next month, I have compiled this list of distances (by road kms) to Major League parks.  All distances are calculated from the Citadel in downtown Halifax, Nova Scotia.  Looking at this list there were a few surprises in regarding to where certain parks appear on the list.  For example, the Blue Jays are the seventh nearest team to Halifax.  Los Angeles to closer than Seattle?

Distances listed by kilometres, time is also included.  Times higher than 24 hours are estimates due to Google limitations.

  1. Fenway Park, Boston Red Sox: 1063 km or 10:25
  2. Citi Field, New York Mets: 1377 km or 13:21
  3. Yankee Stadium, New York Yankees: 1378 km or 13:25
  4. Citizens Bank Park, Philadelphia Phillies: 1548 km or 15:00
  5. Oriole Park at Camden Yards, Baltimore Orioles: 1699 km or 16:22
  6. Nationals Park, Washington Nationals: 1755km or 16:59
  7. Rogers Centre, Toronto Blue Jays: 1794 km or 17:08
  8. PNC Park, Pittsburgh Pirates: 1969 km or 19:21
  9. Progressive Field, Cleveland Indians: 2076 km or 20:01
  10. Comerica Park, Detroit Tigers: 2158 km or 20:46
  11. Great American Ball Park, Cincinnati Reds: 2429 km or 23:32
  12. Guaranteed Rate Field, Chicago White Sox: 2607 km or 25:12
  13. Wrigley Field, Chicago Cubs: 2627 km or 24:27
  14. Miller Park, Milwaukee Brewers: 2780 km or 26:13
  15. SunTrust Park, Atlanta Braves: 2782 km or 25:17
  16. Busch Stadium, St. Louis Cardinals: 2943 km or 27:33
  17. Tropicana Field, Tampa Bay Rays: 3240 km or 30:13
  18. Target Field, Minnesota Twins: 3288 km or 30:14
  19. Kaufmann Stadium, Kansas City Royals: 3317 km or 31:12
  20. Marlins Park, Miami Marlins: 3444 km or 31:15
  21. Globe Life Park, Texas Rangers: 3920 km or 36:12
  22. Minute Maid Park, Houston Astros: 4019 km or 37:11
  23. Coors Field, Colorado Rockies: 4200 km or 38:12
  24. Chase Field, Arizona Diamondbacks: 5287 km or 45:31
  25. Angel Stadium, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim: 5824 km or 52:11
  26. Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles Dodgers: 5836 km or 53:15
  27. Petco Park, San Diego Padres: 5934 km or 53:13
  28. Safeco Field, Seattle Mariners: 5947 km or 54:11
  29. AT&T Park, San Francisco Giants: 6017 km or 55:17
  30. Oakland Coliseum, Oakland Athletics: 6020 km or 55:15

Also noteworthy:

  1. Stade Olympique, Montreal QC: 1234 km or 11:44 (former home of the Expos)
  2. Estadio Baseball Monterrey, Monterrey MX: 4806 km or 44:33 (have hosted MLB games)
  3. Providence Park, Portland OR: 6004 km or 55:14 (could have been home of an MLB team, now soccer stadium)

As the crow flies (to put west coast distances in perspective):
Source: airmilescalculator.com

  1. Halifax to Willemstad, Curacao: 3676 km
  2. Halifax to Dublin, Ireland: 4156 km
  3. Halifax to Vancouver, BC: 4434 km
  4. Halifax to London, UK: 4590 km
  5. Halifax to Los Angeles, CA: 4781 km
  6. Halifax to Berlin: 5433 km
  7. Halifax to Rome: 5937 km

Due to the vastness of the North American continent, we are closer (by air) to Rome, Italy than we are to some MLB parks (by road).

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Wanderers Grounds Upgardes

20160420_172148

If your reading this you probably know that Halifax’s former baseball grounds will receive an upgrade this summer.  Wanderer’s Grounds will be closed this spring and summer while the city upgrades the field.  The facility will receive new sod, fencing, player’s benches and scoreboard.  The work is scheduled to be completed by September 1.  This is good news as the Canada vs. Glasgow rugby match in 2015 was moved to Spryfield due to the poor conditions of the field.

The new field (to be used mainly for soccer and rugby) will be a sand based field, measuring 130m x 80m.  FYI, a Canadian football field is 137m long, including the end zones.  Some of the light poles will also be moved, making the field longer than it currently is.  There is a plan by Sports & Entertainment Atlantic to erect a 5000-7000 seat pop up stadium to house a  potential team in the new Canadian Premier League that is scheduled to kick off next year.  If the team is a success, the plan is to build something more permanent on site.

The Canadian Premier League is a new soccer league that hopes to have teams from coast to coast.  They hope to field 6-8 teams in their inaugural season.  So far, only Hamilton has a team.  Many franchises are expected to be owned by NHL and/or CFL ownership groups.  There is also talk of a team based at Moncton Stadium.

Besides the CPL (there is already a supporters group, the Halifax Wanderers), there is no plans for the facility besides local use.  A 5000-7000 seat stadium could still be used for events like international soccer and rugby.  If the back of the end zones can be accommodated football could also be played there.  Maybe Saint Mary’s decides to not rebuilt Huskies Stadium and the Huskies started to play there.  Dalhousie could launch a varsity football team and use Wanderer’s Grounds.  This could help the universities extend their brands off campus and get more non-students / alumni out to the games.  An expanded stadium (10000-12000) could also be used for CFL exhibition games.

It is unlikely that baseball would ever return to the site.  But if the stadium is designed like Royal Athletic Park in Victoria, who knows what will happen.  This is not the first time I have discussed this possibility on this blog.  The baseball scoreboard, which hasn’t been used for baseball in 13 years will be replaced.  I said (tounge in cheek) that they could save money by bringing baseball back to the site by not replacing the scoreboard.  The Wanderer’s Grounds will have a new (modern) scoreboard, which will look a lot more professional as a potential CPL facility.  With the new grounds, stands and scoreboard, the field should be an asset to the city.

I look forward to seeing the new grounds come September.  Hopefully Sport & Entertainment Atlantic can bring a CPL team to the region and we can look forward to some summertime sporting action in the city.

 

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1997 New Brunswick Major Leaguers

NB players

This is the first post in a new series where I will be posting a picture and writing a short paragraph about said picture.

Above is a lithograph printed during the 1997 Major League season.  The picture celebrates the three New Brunswickers that played in the Majors that season.  First is Matt Stairs pictured as an Oakland Athletic (above) and below as a Fredericton Schooner, his amateur team.  In the middle is Jason Dickson, headshot as an Anaheim Angel and below pictured as a Chatham Ironmen.  Last but not least, is Rheal Cormier who was playing for the Montreal Expos that season.  Below he is pictured with the Moncton Mets.  There were three New Brunswick players on Opening Day rosters in 1997, more than any other Canadian province.

Dickson was an All-Star that season.  Due to injuries, that season and 1998 were his only full seasons in the Major Leagues.  This was Stairs’ first full season in the Majors and first in Oakland after brief stops in Montreal and Boston.  Stairs would last in MLB until 2011 when he retired from the Washington Nationals.  Cormier was the veteran of the NB crew, as 1997 was his seventh MLB season.  He would only pitch 1.1 innings that year due to injuries.  Cormier missed the entire 1998 season (when he was Cleveland Indians property).  He would retire after the 2007 season was a member of the Cincinnati Reds.

This picture is courtesy of icollector.com.

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Syndey Mines Ramblers Uniform

While doing some research for this blog, I came across these beauties.  Recently someone put an old Sydney Mines Ramblers uniform on Ebay.

I am not sure of the authentically of this uniform but I am willing to trust that the authenticity is legit.  The uniform was worn my the Ramblers team of the Cape Breton Colliery League in the late 1930’s.  It was manufactured by a company called Empire (“The Emblem of Satisfaction”) of New York City.  The company’s tag can be seen on the back of the neck area in the second photograph above.  The number on this jersey is 3.  I am not sure who wore the number/uniform for the team.

The three Major Leaguers that wore this uniform are Al Blanche, Connie Creeden and Bill Marshall.  The Ramblers best season came in 1937, when they finished 27-21 and finished tied (Sydney) in second place.  The Steel Citians would beat them two games to none in the semifinal round.  They didn’t qualify for the playoffs in 1938 or 1939.  The Ramblers played their home games at Brown Street Field

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Atlantic Canadians at the World Baseball Classic & Olympics

2093

Here is a rundown of the Maritimers that have represented Canada at all four World Baseball Classics.  Also included are the Maritimers who played Olympic baseball for Canada.

World Baseball Classic:
2006:
Rheal Cormier, pitcher: Moncton, New Brunswick; Philadelphia Phillies
Matt Stairs, outfield: Fredericton, New Brunswick; Kansas City Royals

2009:
Matt Stairs, outfield: Fredericton, New Brunswick; Philadelphia Phillies

2013:
Jay Johnson, pitcher: Sussex Corner, New Brunswick; Reading Phillies (Philadelphia)

2017:
Andrew Case, pitcher: Saint John, New Brunswick; Lansing Lugnuts (Toronto)

Olympics:
2008:
Rheal Cormier, pitcher: Moncton, New Brunswick; Moncton Mets

2004:
Jason Dickson, pitcher: Chatham, New Brunswick; Omaha Royals (Kansas City)

1988:
Rheal Cormier, pitcher: Moncton, New Brunswick
Frank Humber, pitcher: Corner Brook, Newfoundland
Matt Stairs, outfield: Fredericton, New Brunswick

Worth Noting: Jay Johnson was also a member of the 2011 Gold Medal winning Pan-American Games team in Mexico.

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South Street Field, Glace Bay

south-street-field

This Google Street View image shows what South Street Field looks like today.

The Glace Bay Miners of the old Cape Breton Colliery League played their home games at South Street Field.  At 59°57’02.75″ west, this the most easterly park in Organized Baseball history.  The field is still in use today, assuming that the softball field on South Street is the former baseball field.

The Miners were members of the Colliery League for its entire three-year (1937-39) existence as a pro loop.  They were also members of the league prior to 1937 when it operated as an amateur league.  The transition to professional baseball began in 1935 as teams were allowed three imports.  The league became fully professional in 1937.  The town of Glace Bay renovated the facility in preparation of professional baseball in 1937 by fixing up the bleachers and fences.  Further upgrades were made in 1939.  These consisted of moving the fences in eight feet and standardizing the height at eight feet.  The Miners had to pay rent to use the facility while local amateur teams got to use it for free.

Major Leaguers who called the South Street Field home were Freddie Maguire of the 1937 Miners (618 career MLB games with the Boston Braves).  The 1938 Miners featured Major League veterans Del Bissonette (604 career games with the Brooklyn Dodgers) and Bill Chamberlain (12 games with the White Sox in 1932).  Bissonette also served as the Miners manager.  The 1939 teams was managed by former Philadelphia Athletic and Detroit Tiger Roy Moore.

Assuming that I am correct, the field was later transformed into softball field.  Due to the smaller dimensions used for softball, home plate was moved up 100 or so feet.  I am not sure when this conversation took place.

As on early 2017, the site is scheduled for an upgrade.

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