Looking back at Fort McMurray baseball, before the Giants take over

Catch you on the rebound

By Curtis J. Phillips, Connect Contributor

GiantsWhy do baseball fans sing: “Take Me Out to the Ball Game”, when they are already at the ball park?

I will never be a stand-up comedian, but I will be a big fan of the Fort McMurray Oil Giants when they open their inaugural season in the Western Major Baseball League. The first pitch is set to be thrown on May 27, when they host defending champion Lethbridge Bulls at Shell Place baseball stadium, which has sitting for 1,725 spectators, plus an additional 5,500 on the adjacent berm seating.

The Oil Giants have formed an incredible roster for a first-year franchise, with the talents of collegiate players from schools including University of New Mexico, San Jose State University, Washington State University and from Appalachian State out Boone, North Carolina way, outfielder/pitcher Matt Brill, who was drafted by the New York Mets in the 2013 MLB June Amateur Draft 34th round 716th overall.

Before we head to the future of local baseball, I am a firm believer that we need to know our past. Below are just some of the highlights that I have researched pertaining to such, with the Fort McMurray baseball timeline:
1991: Fort McMurray is viewed as a potential market for the Can-Am Professional Baseball League. Over the next 25 years the following leagues will look to setting up house in Fort McMurray: American Association of Independent Professional Baseball Clubs; Canadian Baseball League, North American Baseball League, Northern League of Professional Baseball and Pecos League.

1993: City council declares June 9th as “Joey Young Day” in Honor of Joey Young of Fort McMurray who was drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays. Young was the highest pick of a Canadian player at the time, by the Toronto Blue Jays with a third round selection 93rd overall.
1995: The FLLY Dome opened on Mackenzie Boulevard.
1997: City council names the new Little League Baseball park, adjacent to the YMCA of Wood Buffalo, “Ron Morgan Little League Baseball Park”. It honours Morgan, the longest serving Councillor of the New Town of Fort McMurray, the City of Fort McMurray and the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo.
Fort McMurray is visited by a Japanese Little League Baseball team from Sonoru, Japan.
City council passes a motion to purchase the FLLY Dome and lease the property to the Fort McMurray Youth Soccer Association (FMYSA) for $1.00 per year.

Born in Fort McMurray, catcher Heath Wilson plays first of five years in the minors as part of the Atlanta Braves and Cleveland Indians system.

1998: Chris Marchand is drafted by the Major League Baseball Los Angeles Dodgers in the 48th round.
1999: The Western Canadian Men’s and Ladies Intermediate “A” Fastball Championships is held in Fort McMurray August 20 to 23.

2000: From July 27 to August 2, the Canadian Big League Baseball Championship is held in Fort McMurray. The winner advances to Tucson, Arizona for the World Series. Fort McMurray is represented by the Bull Dogs.
2004: Fort McMurray hosts the Little League Triple “A” Prairie Championships.

2005: The Fort McMurray Bulldogs win the Big League Prairie Championship at the Ron Morgan Little League Baseball Park.

Born in Fort McMurray born, pitcher Rob Hogue drafted 18th round (536th overall) by Toronto Blue Jays.

2012: Shane Dawson Jr. selected by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 17th round of the 2012 MLB Amateur Draft.

2015: Shane Dawson Jr. part of Team Canada’s gold medal men’s baseball which beat the United States 7-6 in a 10-inning affair played at the 2015 Pan-American Games held in Toronto.

Catch you on the rebound.

-Connect Weekly-