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Baseball dreams a Brock reality

By: Dave Feschuk
The St. Catharines Standard
July 12 , 1995

A group of Brock University student plans to step up to the plate this September. But since they’ll be taking their cuts in a time of university cutbacks, the cash won’t come from the school.

“Obviously, we’re really in need of some community support and some financial backing,” said Mike McRae of Niagara Falls, the team’s head coach. “That’s going to be huge.”

Huge because the team won’t be a full-fledged varsity squad like basketball or hockey. Instead, they’ll have to muster their own funding, putting them in the same financial boat as the university’s other “club” teams—men’s field lacrosse, women’s rugby and field hockey.

But despite shallow pockets, the baseball Badgers have big dreams, including a 35-game schedule that will take them from Florida to baseball’s Hall of Fame.

They’ll compete in the Canadian Intercollegiate Baseball Association, a league that’s expanding from four to 15 teams in its sophomore season. Other schools fielding teams include McMaster, Guelph and the University of Toronto. The schedule will be split—the better part played from September to mid-October with a shorter stint tacked on in April.

“What’s good about this league,” said McRae, “is that it offers Canadian student-athletes an alternative to going down to the States to play. They’ll get a good education and play some good ball up here instead.”

So far the response has been impressive. More than 100 Badger hopefuls came out for tryouts that began in January. And there’s a one-week training camp at the end of August for the 40 players that remain on the roster.

“The best part is this is the worst we’ll be,” said McRae, 26, a former pitcher who studied and played on a scholarship at Maine’s Colby College. “We’re only going to get better from here.”

No doubt playing American schools like Canisius College and Niagara University will make sure of that. So will a March playing tour of Florida and a trip to Cooperstown, N.Y. for an exhibition contest with a Long Island college.

McRae said he hopes the new league will help halt the flow of Canadian talent south of the border—a flow he once took part in and helped encourage.

“There used to be nothing here for Canadian ballplayers,” McRae said. “Now we can offer an attractive opportunity to Canadian student-athletes.”