Dawgs top rookie looking forward to 2013
Baseball: Annual awards banquet set for Feb. 2
By: Bruce Campbell
| Posted: Wednesday, Jan 09, 2013 12:38 pm
It took a while for a 22-year-old B.C. native to get used to playing baseball in front of 2,000 fans a night, but once he got the hang of it he wanted some more.
Jerod Bartnik was named the Okotoks Dawgs Rookie of the Year and he will be back in 2013 for his sophomore season.
The Dawgs outfielder started the 2012 Western Major Baseball League (WMBL) season slowly, but ended with a bang. The left-handed hitting Bartnik finished with a respectable .270 batting average with four home runs and 22 RBI.
“I took me a couple of games to get used to playing in the WMBL and in Okotoks,” Bartnik said from his Surrey, B.C. home on Jan. 2. “I had never played in front of 3,000 fans before.
“It also took a while to get used to the pitching and all the travel in the league.”
Bartnik was selected the team’s 2012 Rookie of the Year and will be one of four players honoured at the sixth annual Okotoks Dawgs’ awards banquet on Feb. 2 at the Foothills Centennial Centre.
Bartnik was one of seven University of BC Thunderbirds who flew east to play at the friendly confines of Seaman Stadium in Okotoks last summer.
“Our coach (Terry McKaig) asked me what I was planning to do for the summer and I’m good friends with (infielder James Stewart) who went to the Dawgs Academy,” Bartnik said. “James told me how great the facilities were in Okotoks and how good the fans were and that’s where I wanted to go.”
Bartnik started to hit his stride offensively during the Southern Alberta Challenge, an exhibition series in mid-June. The weather may have helped Bartnik because it was certainly a taste of home.
“It was during an exhibition game against the Medicine Hat Mavericks in Okotoks,” Bartnik said. “I went five-for-five with a couple of doubles, it was one of the best games I ever played in my life — and it was just crazy rain.”
Of course, one of his regrets is he and the Dawgs couldn’t perform better when they took on the Mavericks when it counted the most — in the opening round of the Western Major Baseball League playoffs.
The Mavericks ended Okotoks’ season by downing the Dawgs 3-1 in the best-of-five playoff series.
“There are high expectations (in Okotoks) and it was frustrating to go out so early,” Bartnik said. “That’s one of the reasons I want to come back, so I have a chance to win a ring.”
Dawgs managing director John Ircandia said he expects Bartnik to be even better in his sophomore year in the WMBL.
“We were pleased with him last year,” Ircandia said. “We think he will do much better this year. We expect him to hit in the middle of our order and we believe as he matures as a hitter he will hit around .300 and knock in a lot of runs for us.”
He said Bartnik has the potential to hit between 10 to 15 home runs in the WMBL.
Tickets for the Dawgs banquet are available by calling the Dawgs’ office at 403-262-3294. The guest speaker is Dawgs alumnus Jim Henderson, who after 10 years of toiling in the minor leagues, excelled in the Milwaukee Brewers’ bullpen during their National League Central pennant run last summer.
The banquet will also feature a tribute to the 2012 Canadian champion Okotoks Midget Black Dawgs.
Proceeds from the awards banquet will go towards supporting the Dawgs’ programs and facilities.
Ircandia No. 28
Bob Elliott of the Canadian Baseball Network named Ircandia the 28th most influential Canadian in baseball on Jan. 1.
Elliott, who is a member of the media wing of the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY, wrote of the Dawgs’ managing director:
“The Dawgs drew 2,202 fans to its 2,650-seat Seaman Stadium in 22 Western Major Baseball League games — seven less fans than the next three teams (Medicine Hat, Lethbridge and Regina) combined.
“He’s the George Steinbrenner of the Prairies: besides the $8 million Seaman Stadium, Donald R. Seaman and the late Daryl K. (Doc) Seaman, part owner of the NHL’s Calgary Flames, is the $2 million the Duvernay Fieldhouse and a new Tourmaline Field.”
The most influential Canadian, according to Elliott, was Paul Beeston, president of the Toronto Blue Jays. Blue Jay third baseman Brett Lawrie finished just ahead of Ircandia at 27.