When one thinks of baseball heroics, they often look to names like Babe Ruth, Jackie Robinson or Hank Aaron. Even the stories, whether true or fictitious, are from far off places. The closest baseball stories come to Saskatchewan would be the Toronto Blue Jays of the early 1990’s, winning back to back World Series titles and taking the trophy north of the border for the first time in it’s history.
Sure, there is Terry Puhl, an outfielder who played with the Houston Astros, was born and raised in Melville, Saskatchewan. But most often when Saskatchewan is thought of, it’s usually how flat the country is. How cold it is in winter. How many hockey players we have and don’t have an NHL team. We also happen to rabid football fans, as our only professional team in any sports happens to be a member of the Canadian Football League. But baseball usually isn’t thought of by people outside of Saskatchewan when they think about this province.
That should put Andrew Albers in pretty decent company, then. Albers was on the mound for the gold medal game as Canada took on the United States at the Pan Am Games in Mexico. The North Battleford native pitched six and two third innings, striking out eight, and letting only six hits, as he helped lead Team Canada to it’s first ever gold medal at any baseball event.
It makes sense, really, that people from Saskatchewan should have a passion for baseball. Look at every small town in this province. You’ll find four things. A hockey arena, curling rink, a golf course not far away. And baseball diamonds. Most often, those diamonds aren’t far from the hockey arena. Every July 1st, in the area I live and work now, there’s the small village of Conquest that has a slow pitch tournament. Conquest also still has a baseball team for junior high and high school aged kids. Even though the village no longer has a school.
There are kids that dream of playing on those perfect grass fields that grow up in Saskatchewan. We aren’t known for baseball, but Team Canada’s 2-1 victory over the United States for Pan Am Games gold, just made that dream a little more achievable.
- Pan Am gold caps comeback season for Canadian pitcher (canada.com)
- Canadians realize dream with Pan Am baseball gold (cbc.ca)
- Canada’s baseball win over U.S. at Pan Ams doesn’t surprise Ernie Whitt (thestar.com)
- Canada upends USA for first Pan Am gold (mlb.mlb.com)
- Canada stuns U.S. to claim baseball gold (canada.com)
- Canada wins Pan Am baseball gold (thestar.com)
- Canada beats US to win gold at Pan American Games (seattletimes.nwsource.com)
- Canada enjoys unlikely glory (canada.com)