2019 Parkland Twins

Beverly Optimist All-Stars and Morinville Jiffy Lube All-Stars being introduced (credit to RBB Photography)

Carson Kirwer of the Beverly Optimist All-Stars goes deep to make a catch (credit to RBB Photography)

Brett McElroy was the voted All-Star selection at first base and managed the home club to a 6-4 victory (credit to RBB Photography)

Cody McElroy focuses on the baseball during All-Star Game action (credit RBB Photography)

Alexander Nation traditional drummers provided mid-game entertainment (credit RBB Photography)

Managers meet for the pre-game (credit RBB Photography)

Turner was called upon to fill the DH role for the beverly Optimists (credit RBB Photography)

Austin Watamaniuk earned MVP of the Game honours (credit RBB Photography)

Ryan Poeter of the Primeaus played in his first All-Star Game having been voted at third base (credit RBB Photography)

Managers McElroy and Jones meet for the pre-game (credit RBB Photography)

Click on picture for larger print

New website coming soon! June 2019

Red Lions Complete Major Facelift

When Keller Field began to show signs of fatigue and aging, current and former Red Lion players did not lament over the fact that political decisions take time nor over whose responsibility it might be to initiate improvements. Players who have donned the Red Lion uniform over the past five decades have a proud tradition of meeting such challenges head on. The Rotarians had supported park renovations in 2017, the 50th anniversary year, through a grant they had obtained which was largely spent upgrading and beautifying the grandstand. With leftover funds falling well short of what was needed to replace the entire outfield fence, players and their families, both active and retired, came forward to spearhead the project to its conclusion. Local businesses, proud supporters of Red Lion baseball, were approached for additional funds and inkind materials and gave generously to the cause. A local baseball family offered a sizeable donation and asked for anonymity. The current coaching staff comprised of Chris and Jordan Brand, and Kevin Watamaniuk with off-field assistance from Chuck Keller organized the labor parties who toiled many hours to see the improvement project through. The finishing touches were not forgotten as the players whose numbers have been retired had their outfield boards replaced with fresh paint. As a parting tribute to the work effort of long time resident and Red Lion alumni Chuck Keller, a new sign towering above the scoreboard was erected. This last finishing touch had to wait until Mr. Keller had left for Europe so as not to face an objection from one of the League’s most noteworthy alumni. Regardless of where Chuck Keller may be in the years to come, he will always remain at the ballpark which bears his name and is an ongoing witness to the dedication and pride of all who have worn the uniform. Welcome to “Keller Field, Home of the Red Lions”.

Expectations and Prognostications for Season Fifty-Two

What is certain about the upcoming season is that the Blackhawks will be representing the NCABL in the Western Canada Senior Championship to be held in Stonewall, Manitoba in August. The veteran club is expected to be very competitive in that Championship as were other League representatives in season’s past. The Blackhawks will have access to other players from across the League who will not be involved in the LCSFS which happens to be scheduled for the same week-end in August. In addition to planning for this event, the Blackhawks will also have their sights set on returning to defend their Championship title, their fourth over the past decade to go along with three pennant victories during the same time period. Under the tutelage of Manager Randy Gregg and coach Duncan Knoll, look for the defending champions to retain a top four finish and to be strong contenders for a fifth title providing that the road to Western’s has not unduly tired the club.

If any club rises to the challenge of taking the championship title away from the Blackhawks, the Sherwood Park Athletics under youthful Manager Brett McElroy would likely be that club. A well balanced club with an experienced roster, the Athletics snatched their first ever pennant last season and had lofty expectations of going farther. The returning players will have something to prove and are expected to be even hungrier than ever before.

As everyone knows, every club will have the same opportunity come opening day to forge their own destiny. Will there be any surprises by season’s end? Will the final four include a new challenger or will the group remain largely unchanged but for positional designations? The Mets have probably undergone the most significant changes in personnel when compared to last season’s roster. The addition of a few former St. Albert Tigers and an improved pitching core should be enough to power the Mets back into the final four come August.

If the near miss performances of the youthful St. Albert Cardinals over the past two season’s are any indication that they are a club poised and ready to break into the post season, then they should not be ruled out from making their first Series’ appearance since entering the League. The crafty and never say die Red Lions will continue to have something to say about it, however. Despite missing all-star centre fielder Chris Brand for the entire season due to injury, the latter will be taking over management of the club and is counting on the return of former pitching great Carmen Brown to make an impact statement. The Red Lions play a solid defensive game and that will not change significantly this season, although team batting may be challenged.

What about the Primeau’s? Might they emerge from their funk and finally return to the competitive level of old when the club, then called the Indians, called Citadel Park in Legal home? To accomplish a return to the post season, the Primeaus will need a solid commitment from their entire core of starters, one that begins in May and ends in August and not any sooner. The challenge here will be in recruiting good young talent and keeping them around long enough to be developed into solid senior prospects. If the Primeaus can deal effectively with building a cohesive unit in both the infield and outfield, the possibility of making the final four is real. If not, the 2019 season could be another disappointing campaign.

The Edmonton Athletics currently hold the record for being the club with the longest tenure among urban clubs in the NCABL. For the Athletics, recruitment has never been their greatest challenge. They have always managed to fill roster spots and to remain relatively competitive over the years. Will the climb into the post-season be achievable this season? With the emergence of another star pitcher like Mark Trela, that goal would most certainly be more easily reached. Without it, the Athletics should turn to a closer working relationship with the N-E Zone who are currently promoting player development with vigour within their representative program. The current junior team would be a good place to start making inroads which could lead the Athletics back up the competitive ladder and possibly into the post-season at some point.

Predicting the success or lack thereof of a brand new franchise is always more difficult. The Parkland Twins have begun their quest for a future final four challenge in the right way, by forging alliances with Spruce Grove Minor Baseball. The success of their program will largely depend on their recruitment of graduating AAA Midget players from the locality as well as on regional recruitment. They will benefit from a beautiful facility in Henry Singer Park and from the past experience of a few grizzled veterans who once played for the successful Camrose Axemen. But beyond those intangibles, history has taught us that success in the NCABL is not instantaneous nor without the necessary commitment to practice and to skill development. We need only observe the dedication and progression of clubs like the Blackhawks and Sherwood Park Athletics to know that instant success is not a likely outcome. Hard work usually is.

N.C.A.B.L. Growing Their Footprint in Edmonton Area

The North Central Alberta Baseball League, once known as a predominantly rural league, lost another country based club following the 2018 regular season but just as quickly picked up yet another Edmonton area franchise. Eight Sturgeon County communities once boasted having a club playing in the NCABL. Horse Hills, Namao, Gibbons, Morinville, Alexander, and Redwater have not fielded teams in the past twenty years. The Town of Legal lost their club within the past decade. Now, the Sturgeon Paladins playing out of Bon Accord have pulled up stakes leaving the County of Sturgeon without any representation in the NCABL. The loss of the Paladins has further strengthened the view that the NCABL has adapted very well to the demographic shift which began almost twenty years ago and which has seen a dramatic growth of baseball within the larger Edmonton metropolitan area while the rural presence has almost totally disappeared.

This season, The Parkland Twins will launch their inaugural season from their base in Spruce Grove. This will return eight franchises to the NCABL producing a 21 game schedule which was recently released by the League (go to schedule/regular season). Quality of play has not suffered as a result of this geographic shift as improved coaching and superior playing fields have positively impacted play within the NCABL. The League does believe that several communities within the County of Sturgeon have the resources needed to bring back baseball to its former position of summer dominance, but time will tell if the potential to do so will in effect translate into reality. Sturgeon County is where it all began and the Town of Morinville in particular holds the distinction of being the official seat of the North Central Alberta Baseball League in addition to housing the only sport specific Hall of Fame in Alberta. These historical facts alone should encourage community leaders to revisit the possibility of returning the game to the place of its birth in north central Alberta.

Official Scorers to Refine Their Skill

Have you wanted to better understand the game of baseball, or better still position yourself just a little bit closer to the action? The League can and will afford you that opportunity again this season. Whether you are a novice or an experienced scorer, or whether you have been recruited or simply want to better acquaint yourself with the game of baseball, learning about scoring can be an educational and rewarding experience.

This season, returning scorers will be offered a half day refresher course which will be conducted completely apart from the novice sessions. A live game course component will also be offered to NCABL scorers only as an optional supplement to their training. If you are a first time attendee, whether working for the NCABL or taking the course to assist your minor baseball organization, the program will involve a full day of presentations. Lunch will be provided on site and included with your registration. Registration is free to all NCABL sponsored scorers; all others attending will be paying a $35 fee on site. Registration is easy. Simply include your full name, a telephone number where you can be reached, and your E-mail address and send this information to by April 25th inclusively.

The Official Scoring Clinic will be taking place on Saturday, April 27th, at the Bessie Nichols School in Edmonton. Both sessions begin with registration at 9:00 AM. Returning scorers may attend the full day of presentations at their discretion. As a special incentive this season, all NCABL scorers in attendance for the half day program will be eligible to receive a small stipend of $10 per regular season game for which they are the registered official scorer. Annual attendance is mandatory in order to qualify for the stipend. Spread the news. Register a friend. Come and learn all about the fundamentals of scoring a game of baseball. For all returnees, the focus will be on completing a game summary form and tracking and recording pitching statistics (ERA).

For all novices, you will learn all about the essential tools for properly scoring a game without delving into any knotty problems

My Traffic Estimate

Club stats released June 3, 2019
LCS Club stats released August 27, 2017
St. Albert Cardinals
Edmonton Athletics Sherwood Park Athletics
Edmonton Blackhawks Stony Plain Mets
Edmonton Primeaus Parkland Twins
Westlock Red Lions