Host Joe McFarland chats with players, coaches, fans, volunteers and others involved in the sport in our province. While the focus is on their personal journeys, we also talk about some of the headlines and issues surrounding baseball in Alberta.
Episode 128: Edmonton Trappers Retrospective
It has been 40 years since Alberta baseball fans were first introduced to the Pacific Coast League. On April 14, 1981, the Edmonton Trappers took to the field on the road against the Portland Beavers. Eight days later, the Trappers made their debut on home turf, taking on the Tacoma Tigers at Renfrew Park. It was quite the journey in making that happen. Efforts to start a new professional baseball league in Western Canada fell through, as did hopes to bring a Pioneer League team to face Calgary, Lethbridge and Medicine Hat. Edmonton’s Mr. Baseball, Mel Kowalchuk, wouldn’t take no for an answer, and looked into the possibility of Triple-A coming to town. When an expansion team wasn’t feasible, he looked at buying an existing franchise, bringing in Peter Pocklington to help finance a deal for the Ogden Athletics. After some back-and-forth, the deal happened, the team moved and the rest, as they say, is history. We chatted with one of Kowalchuk's friends, Orv Franchuk, and former pitcher Bill Atkinson about that inaugural season.
Episode 127: Shawn Grandmont
We first met Shawn Grandmont back in 2018 when he was with the College of Southern Idaho when they went to the JUCO World Series. We wrote up a story to preview the event, and have kept tabs on him ever since. Grandmont moved up to NCAA Division II Northwest Nazarene University in Nampa, Idaho, which is about a two-hour drive from CSI. Over the last three years, the Lethbridge product has continued to get better. He made our 2020 All-College Alberta team by hitting .339 with six homers and 15 RBIs in just 16 games. This year, he’s been even better, hitting .378 with six homers and 34 RBIs in 24 games, helping lead the Knighthawks to a 19-5 record overall and 13-3 in conference play. The Vauxhall Academy grad took some time earlier this week to chat with us about baseball, patience and cookies.
Episode 126: Damiano Palmegiani
Our guest this week is a man who has dreams of being on an Opening Day roster in the not-too-distant future. Damiano Palmegiani has had quite the journey already in his young baseball career. The native of Surrey, BC came to Alberta as a teenager to take his career to the next level with Vauxhall Academy. He did that in spades, making it to the Tournament-12 in Toronto and then Baseball Canada’s Junior National Team. In 2018, Palmegiani was drafted in the 35th round by his favourite team, the Toronto Blue Jays. He decided to go to school, first heading to Cal State Northridge. But he struggled on the field, hitting .157 in 31 games. The COVID-19 pandemic got in the way of any possible rebound in 2020, leading him to a change of scenery with the College of Southern Nevada for 2021. And he has shined with the Coyotes. As we record this, Palmegiani is hitting .376 with 13 home runs and 40 RBIs in 31 games. In this wide-ranging conversation, the 6-1, 195-pound sophomore talks about the long road to Nevada, how he turned things around, his commitment announcement earlier this year to Division-1 Arizona and much more.
Episode 125: Kandi Wyatt
As March winds to a close, we thought we’d take another opportunity to recognize International Women’s Day by welcoming another former member of Baseball Alberta’s Women’s team to the podcast. And her story is a fascinating one. Kandi Wyatt played a lot of baseball growing up in Rocky Mountain House. Mainly a catcher, Wyatt made her way up to the provincial team, winning gold at nationals in 2006 and 2014. She was also a part of the Girls Day in Baseball event put on by Baseball Alberta last summer that featured several big names from this province including Kelsey Lalor, Tara Sliwkanich and last week’s podcast guest Paige Wakefield. We reached out to Wyatt earlier this month to chat about her journey in baseball, moving onto boxing, cycling and her attempt to crush a five-pound poutine.
Episode 124: Paige Wakefield
We’ve been lucky enough to have quite a few conversations over the last couple of years around the women’s game in this province and highlighted them on social media back on #InternationalWomensDay. From profiling players like Nicole Luchanski, Kelsey Lalor, Tara Sliwkanich, Ellie Jespersen and Madison Willan to our chat with Baseball Alberta’s Barb Northcott and Chris James about the growth of the game as a whole, it felt like there was a lot of momentum before the pandemic hit.
During the pandemic, Joe was lucky enough to MC the Girls Day in Baseball online sessions featuring panel discussions with past and present players to help keep the spotlight on the game. And that’s where I first chatted with Paige Wakefield. The St. Albert product represented our province at nationals on a few occasions and went to Havana, Cuba for Team Canada’s Spring Training in 2010. She had an illustrious career that spanned 13 years, including a gold medal at nationals in 2006. She later got into coaching and is now in physiotherapy. Earlier this week, we took to Zoom to chat about her journey in baseball, some of her personal highlights and how she uses that experience in her day-to-day life today.
Episode 123: Soren Graversen
Calgary’s Soren Graversen has been on a tear at William Penn University. As we record this, the Dawgs Academy grad is hitting .395 with five home runs and 20 RBIs. I reached out to him after an insane day at the plate on February 23rd. In a doubleheader against St. Xavier and Harris-Stowe State, he hit three home runs and 8 RBIs. The 6-4, 195-pound junior is back to having fun at the ballpark again. But it hadn’t been the case for a while, after controversy rocked the school he was previously at. At the end of 2018, Indian Hills Community College baseball coaches Cam Walker and Steve Kletke were accused of misconduct, allegedly providing false identities to foreign students so they could work to raise money for the team. The players, like Graversen, weren’t allowed to work under the terms of their student visas, with the players who came forward saying the coaches used physical punishment at practice for violations of team rules. Not only did it lead to ramifications off the field, but it affected players on the field as well. In this candid conversation, Graversen talks about trying to bounce back from it, what he’s learned about himself through it all, and he offers a fascinating answer to our usual question of what the game means to him.
Great coverage of Alberta baseball
We’re lucky to have these guys devote their time to telling the story of baseball in Alberta!
Great Interviewer and Production Value!
So happy to have stumbled upon this pod after following ADS on social media. Everything an Alberta baseball fan is interested in. Content is fabulous and relevant! One suggestion is to reintroduce guests by full name and title at the closing of interviews as a reminder for the listening audience. Keep up the great work!
Alberta's Vin Scullys
Two guys, passion and joy. Vin and Scully. They do phenomenal job at Alberta Dugout Stories. It's breath taking how huge knowledge they've got about the players from all over the world that are somehow connected to this province. AB Podcasts brought another dimension to the Alberta baseball encyclopedia. It's about people you might currently know or you might meet tomorrow or week later. It's real. I'm just wondering who is Vin and who is Scully?