The sun was shining in Edmonton Tuesday — one of the many reasons why it was a great day for baseball.
The Edmonton Prospects held a morning press conference at the Chateau Lacombe with the Who’s Who Edmonton baseball sitting at the head table.
Orv Franchuk. Ray Brown, Even broadcaster Al Coates.
Franchuk and Brown have decades of major league baseball experience. But here’s the quote that jumped out at me.
“We’re teachers,” said Brown, who will enter his first year as Prospect manager starting May 31 at Telus Field.
That’s exactly what the Prospects need. After all, they are a summer baseball league made up of U.S. college players trying to hone their skills before returning to college in the fall.
Prospect players are going to learn from two dignified gentlemen. Brown was a pitcher with the Kansas City Royals and tossed two no-hitters. Franchuk has been a sought after hitting coach in the big leagues and has a 2004 World Series ring as a member of the Boston Red Sox. He’s the team’s special advisor.
Sure, they will learn the fundamentals of the game — throwing, hitting, catching and running. But will also hear, first-hand, what it takes to become a competitor in the big leagues.
Those lessons won’t be taught on the field. They will come on long bus rides throughout the Western Major Baseball League — a circuit throughout Alberta and Saskatchewan; they will come in hotel lobbies; they will come in dugouts, during rain delays, where players will be able to hear Brown and Franchuk tell stories.
That may be more educational — and motivating — than learning the technique of a batting stance.
And that gives huge credibility to the Prospects, an organization who has struggled for the past several summers. They won six games last season and — surely — that had something to do with the small crowds at Telus Field.
Brown and Franchuk are committed to make the Prospects one of the best programs in Canada. They even talked about their dream of having more local players on the team.
That’s very positive.
It’s been 10 years since Edmonton baseball was dealt a blow when the Edmonton Trappers of the Pacific Coast League zipped their equipment bags shut and moved to Texas. Their have been several attempts of independent baseball leagues in Edmonton.
But it wasn’t Triple A baseball. You could see it on and off the field.
Will Triple A ever return to Edmonton? Hard to say.
But perhaps that shouldn’t be the concern. Maybe, we have to realize we have a jewel of a ball park in Telus Field.
The Prospects play there. And having a baseball team there is better than no team there.
With the new direction Brown and Franchuk are charting for young players, a new era is started Tuesday.
And that makes a great day in baseball.