Jays to hold youth camps in Okotoks
Baseball: Former big league players to help instruct
By: Bruce Campbell
| Posted: Wednesday, Feb 06, 2013 06:00 am
Young ballplayers in the foothills will have the chance to shag flies with some high-flying former Blue Jays.
The Okotoks Dawgs announced at their awards gala on Feb. 2 Seaman Stadium will host the Blue Jays Honda Summer Camp this summer.
“I am delighted to announce in 2013 that the Okotoks Dawgs have partnered with the Toronto Blue Jays to bring to this community a youth camp featuring Toronto Blue Jay alumni July 31 to Aug. 2,” Dawgs spokesman William Gardner said to approximately 400 people at the banquet at Foothills Centennial Centre.
The camp is being held in part because of the world-class facilities at Seaman Stadium, which includes the Duvernay field house and the Bantam and Midget ball diamonds.
It also didn’t hurt for the Jays to get a ringing endorsement from three influential people regarding the summer game — a hall-of-fame baseball scribe, a major league baseball player and the 28th most influential man in Canadian baseball.
Bob Elliott, a hall of fame reporter with the Toronto Sun, endorsed the facilities in Okotoks when talking with officials with the Jays.
“I talked to them about the facilities and everything they have got here,” said Elliott, who attended the Dawgs banquet. “I explained that Okotoks is a hotbed for baseball with the three fields.”
Although it will be a great event for young players, it’s an even bigger deal for moms and dads to see some Blue Jays greats.
“It will be a big event for the parents,” Elliott said. “At the last camps, they had Lloyd Moseby, Rance Mulliniks, who knows you might get George Bell… and Roberto Alomar goes to a lot of them.”
One of the guys Elliott talked to was T.J. Burton, the coordinator of amateur baseball with the Blue Jays.
“There has been a lot of buzz about the facilities out there,” Burton said in an interview from Toronto on Feb. 4.
“Over the years, John (Dawgs executive director John Ircandia) has contacted us about bringing it out there. I knew some other guys from out there and with some other feedback I decided to make a go of it.”
The players he talked to were former Dawgs, Milwaukee Brewer pitcher Jim Henderson and Okotoks resident Emerson Frostad, who were teammates on Team Canada’s Pam-Am gold medal team in 2011.
The camp, for youths aged nine to 16, will run for four hours a day. There will be eight stations with instruction from Blue Jay alumni. There will also be coaches from the Blue Jays organization helping with the camp.
Former closer Duane Ward, a member of the 1992 and 1993 world champion Blue Jays, is one of the organizers of the youth camps and is expected to be at the event in Okotoks.
“Duane is the alumni instructor who is involved in all the camps,” Burton said. “We are very early in setting up the camps, so I haven’t started reaching out to the guys for that camp, but in past years we have had Roberto Alomar, Cecil Fielder, but we have nothing confirmed.”
Alomar was also a member of the World Series Jays. The second baseman was inducted into the Baseball Hall-of-Fame in 2011.
A corporate home run challenge will also be held on Aug. 2 at Seaman Stadium.
For more information go to the Toronto Blue Jays web site and click on baseball academy.