Patrick Cassidy has big plans for the Edmonton Prospects. Photos: Amanda Fewer. 

By Amanda Fewer
Canadian Baseball Network

It was a celebration of baseball at the Edmonton Prospects first annual Fund raising Gala in Edmonton.

What better place to celebrate the history of baseball in Edmonton than Edmonton’s historic Fort Edmonton Park? The Blatchford Air Hangar served as the backdrop for the Prospects “For the love of the game 2017 Gala.”

Managing partner of the Prospects Patrick Cassidy began the evening with a few announcements.

One being that subject to final approval by the city, there would be new naming rights to Telus Field. Although as part of the deal he was not allowed to say exactly who this new partner would be, he gave all of those in attendance a clue.  They are an international company. Not much of a clue, but he says he is very excited to see this go through and that “local sales people are our allies.” He hopes that once this company is announced, supporters of the Prospects become strong supporters of the company itself.  

Cassidy also explained where some of the proceeds of the Gala were headed. He explained that the Prospects will be updating the lighting at the park from halogen to LED, which will result in $100,000 per year in energy savings for the organization. David Mitchell, CEO of Lumican Corp. was in attendance and happy to chat lighting with anyone curious enough to ask. 

In 2016 the Prospects and the city of Edmonton struck a four-year deal with an option for a fifth, bringing baseball back to the city. “This gives us an opportunity to prove ourselves, we’re on a mission,” Cassidy said.  

A lot of ball has been played at that field. The Pacific Coastal League triple-A Edmonton Trappers occupied the park in 1995 when it opened and were later sold in 2004. Next came the Edmonton Cracker Cats of the independent Northern and Golden Leagues, who became the Capitals of the Golden and North American League.

And now the collegiate level Prospects of the Western Major Baseball League. The triple-A team began play in Edmonton in 1981. Before that the Edmonton Eskimos were in the class-A Western International League (1953-54), the class-B Western International (1922), class-B Western Canada League (1920-21), class-D Western Canada (1914), the Edmonton Gray Birds were in the Western Canada League (1912-13), the Eskimos in the class-D Western Canada League (1909-11) and the first-ever team, the Edmonton Grays in the class-D Western Canada League (1907). 

That’s 43 pro teams the city has fielded for you scoring along at home, behind only Toronto (121 teams of different sorts of classifications), Montreal (96), Vancouver (83), Winnipeg (66), Hamilton (47) and Calgary (46).  

You can feel Cassidy’s passion, as he says “any negative talk will only come out of the mouths of fools. We are baseball people through and through.”

As for where they see themselves in the coming years, well, Cassidy has high expectations. He says that as an organization they look up to teams like the Okotoks Dawgs, saying teams like the four-time WMBL champions have brought so much needed attention to the WMBL.

The Dawgs led the league in attendance again in the 2016 Season with 76,571, an average of 3,329 people per game.

“Our goal is to catch and surpass them, we want to continue to build this movement into an unstoppable force,” said Cassidy.

The Prospects saw 38,266 fans in the 2016 season. An average of 1,820 per game.  They have some work to do, although they are up to the challenge.

Edmonton Eskimos running back Calvin McCarty, Prospects volunteer Shawn Green and Rick Bronson MC at the first Fund raising Gala for the Edmonton WMBL team. 

EDMONTON ESKIMOS RUNNING BACK CALVIN MCCARTY, PROSPECTS VOLUNTEER SHAWN GREEN AND RICK BRONSON MC AT THE FIRST FUND RAISING GALA FOR THE EDMONTON WMBL TEAM. 

Throughout the evening attendees were invited to bid on silent auction items ranging from Edmonton Oilers and Edmonton Eskimos memorabilia to Toronto Blue Jays and Calgary Flames items.

Guest speaker Gregg Zaun even threw in his four season tickets to a regular season game with on field BP and a live viewing of the Sporstnet broadcast.  It fetched $3,600 towards the cause. Zaun entertained guests, which included a couple members of the Edmonton Eskimos football team, with a slew of anecdotes from his career.

Al Coates, left,  moderated a Hot Stove panel with Orv Franchuk and Jays broadcaster Gregg Zaun.

AL COATES, LEFT,  MODERATED A HOT STOVE PANEL WITH ORV FRANCHUK AND JAYS BROADCASTER GREGG ZAUN.

Zaun also hosted a Hot Stove style panel with Orv Franchuk moderated by the voice of baseball in Edmonton, Al Coates. Franchuk was a scout for the Cinciannti Reds, hitting coach for the Edmonton Trappers and manager for the Vancouver Canadians to name a few stops. He was also a coach for the Canadian National Team at the 1978 World Cup, the 1981 Intercontinental Cup and the 2007 World Cup.

With its history in baseball well over 100 years old and the enthusiasm of Cassidy, Edmonton is headed in the proper direction.  

Brooks, AB Joins The WMBL

For the second time this week, the Western Major Baseball League is pleased to announce a major development. The City of Brooks, Alberta will join the WMBL in 2016 and will mean that the league will schedule a 6 Alberta (West) and 6 Saskatchewan (East) clubs format for the first time in league history. The Brooks franchise has been making plans, presentations, and team details for nearly a year and after meeting all conditions set by the league, was unanimously approved this week by the WMBL Board of Governors to relocate and operate at the recently built Elks Field for the 2016 season.

Led by longtime baseball enthusiast, Doug Jones, and joined by local baseball loyalists Jason Thomason, Jason Wander, & Darla Wandler, the Brooks franchise will model itself after some of the smaller long standing Saskatchewan WMBL clubs such as Swift Current, Welbourn, Melville, and Yorkton. “The City of Brooks along with the local business and service clubs are to be commended for their passion in achieving this franchise for this area,” commented WMBL President Kevin Kvame.

In 2007, the league saw the Red Deer franchise request an indefinite leave of absence. “It has been an ongoing goal of the league to relocate this franchise or restart it under better conditions in Red Deer. Doug finally felt he had the right dynamics with Brooks, being a decent field, committed community, and enthusiastic baseball people,” Kvame added about the relocation.

“This has been a tremendous week for the WMBL as we grow to 12 franchises with the goal of seeing another Alberta team and another Saskatchewan team in the next couple of years. Community baseball is alive and well as it provides great and affordable family entertainment,”. The league President went onto say.

The WMBL is Canada’s Premiere Summer College Baseball League operating in Alberta and Saskatchewan with 11 other centers. Each team plays a 48 game regular season, 24 at home and 24 away with college baseball athletes who desire to hone their skills during their summer break from school. It is modelled after other summer college leagues such as the Cape Cod, West Coast, or Northwoods leagues. “We continue to see parity in the league with 6 different champions over the last 7 years including Lethbridge winning their 1st title about 2 months ago,’ commented Kvame.

Elks Field is an excellent facility that is new to Brooks and will be a great field for the new WMBL franchise to call home. It is part of a four field complex that houses Little League and Slowpitch organizations as well, all who have written letters of support regarding the new franchise. “As with any WMBL club, it is important for the team to have backing from their local baseball community and we are very pleased with the show of support in Brooks,” the WMBL President added.

Please contact the WMBL President at the contact information below should you wish any further information on this exciting development.

 

Kevin Kvame

President

Western Major Baseball League

1-403-315-4064 (cell)

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (email) 

By Robert Murray, Fort McMurray Today

Fort McMurray’s dream of a Western Major League Baseball team could become a reality as soon as Monday.

The Regional Recreation Corporation sent out a media advisory Friday afternoon, scheduling a media conference for Monday morning at the iSafety Clubhouse in the baseball stadium at Shell Place, where it is expected the team’s name, quite possibly the Fort McMurray Giants, will be announced, bringing a WMBL franchise to the region for the 2016 season.

Different leagues have been eyeing Shell Place’s new baseball stadium as a market for a new team since the stadium opened, though a WMBL franchise has attracted the most attention. The WMBL calls itself the “pre-eminent” summer collegiate baseball league and operates six teams in Saskatchewan and four in Alberta, consisting of players mainly from the National Collegiate Athletic Association.

By Robert Murray, Fort McMurray Today  Full Story at http://www.fortmcmurraytoday.com/2015/11/01/wmbl-franchise-for-mcmurray 

The closest market to Fort McMurray would be the Edmonton Prospects, while other Albertan franchises exist in Okotoks, Medicine Hat and Lethbridge. News of a potential WMBL team leaked early in October when a posted was circulated for a fundraising dinner Nov. 17 at the Sawridge Inn and Conference Centre featuring Toronto Blue Jays players Kevin Pillar and Chris Colabello. Sports broadcaster Jamie Campbell will also be joining them.

The man behind the project, Steve Avila of High Plains Baseball, indicated in late September to the Today, that he wanted to “fill in the hole in the summertime.”

Monday’s announcement will take place at 11 a.m.

http://www.fortmcmurraytoday.com/2015/11/01/wmbl-franchise-for-mcmurray

 

Date: March 12th, 2014

 

Edmonton Prospects bring Franchuk onboard for 2014 season as special advisor and coach

 

Edmonton (AB) – Edmonton Prospects owner Pat Cassidy is adding fuel to the drive for a stronger operation and a league pennant in 2014. Baseball heavyweight and Edmonton Sports Hall of Famer, Orv Franchuk, is joining the organization as coach and special advisor, effective May 1st.

 

“Bringing Orv onboard will ensure we address the demands of the front office, increase our media, sponsor and community outreach, and add to Ray Brown’s already deep coaching staff,” Cassidy said. “Orv brings a broad base of experience in pro ball and he knows Edmonton and the local baseball community – it’s a win, win for fans, sponsors, and athletes in this region.”

 

Franchuk has nearly 40 years of professional baseball experience as a manager, coach, scout and hitting coordinator with the Cincinnati Reds, Anaheim Angels, Oakland Athletics, Boston Red Sox, Houston Astros, San Diego Padres and Los Angeles Dodgers organizations. He sports a World Series ring from his post with the Boston Red Sox in 2004 and seven minor league championships.

 

In high performance amateur competition, his baseball career includes coach of the Canadian National Team at the 2007 World Baseball Cup, the 1981 Intercontinental Cup, and the 1978 Amateur World Series. Franchuk was inducted into the Edmonton Sports Hall of Fame in 2008.

 

He earned his Masters Degree in Education from Long Beach State and taught in the Edmonton Public School system for 24 years before making the transition to a full-time baseball career.

 

“Getting back to Edmonton brings me full circle. I was one of the first kids from this region to get a chance to play baseball in the U.S. college system back in the 1960s and that was the first step to a 37-year career in the sport. Edmonton has become a hotbed of baseball talent since then and I’m looking forward to working with Pat, Ray and others in the operation to build the Edmonton Prospects franchise this coming season,” said Franchuk.

 

A summer collegiate baseball program, the Edmonton Prospects play a 46-game schedule in the [11-team] Western Major Baseball League. The Prospects open their 2014 season on May 30th with a four-game home stand, three against the Lethbridge Bulls and one against the Okotoks Dawgs. Games start at 7:05 p.m. at TELUS Field. For a full Edmonton Prospects season schedule, sponsorship and volunteer opportunities, go to www.prospectsbaseballclub.com. For details of the Western Major Baseball League go to www.wmbl.ca.

 

For more information:

Media Contact: Orv Franchuk
email:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Team Contact: Lynda Holden

phone / email: 780.940.4854 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

ORV FRANCHUK TO JOIN EDMONTON PROSPECTS AS COACH & SPECIAL ADVISOR

 

– EXPERIENCE

 

  • 2013 LOS ANGELES DODGERS – Hitting Coach AA
  • 2011-2012 EDMONTON CAPITALS – Manager
  • 2009-2010 SAN DIEGO PADRES – Hitting Coach AAA/AA
  • 2008-2009 HOUSTON ASTROS – Hitting Coordinator
  • 2002-2006 BOSTON RED SOX – Hitting Coordinator
  • 1995-2002 OAKLAND ATHLETICS – Manager, Hitting Coordinator, Catching Coordinator, Hitting Coach
  • 1988-1994 ANAHEIM ANGELS – Hitting Coach, Scout
  • 1977-1984 CINCINNATI REDS – Scout

 

– EDUCATION 

 

Master of Arts Degree in Education

California State University at Long Beach

Long Beach, California

 

Bachelor of Science Degree in Physical Education

Pepperdine University

Los Angeles, California

 

– PERSONAL

 

Orv and his wife Susan make their home in Meridian, Idaho.