The Red Lions are all smiles as they celebrate the 17th championship of their illustrious tenure within the NCABL.

Manager Adam Sawatzky and Captain Chris Brand accept the League Championship Trophy.

Chris Brand of the Red Lions named LCS Most Valuable Player caption: Chris Brand put in a stellar performance in the outfield throughout the Championship Series to earn MVP honours.

Riley Guntrip, upon receiving from Commissioner Riopel, the NCABL’s Education Grant sponsored by Servus Credit Union.

Manager Randy Gregg and Coach Duncan Knoll (Coach Derek St. Laurent missing from photo) accept the Servus Cup from Commissioner Riopel in Westlock.

Randy Gregg and Duncan Knoll led the Blackhawks to a second consecutive pennant in 2015.

Commissioner Riopel congratulates Bryan Toles of the Camrose Axemen on winning the Bob Kootenay Memorial Award as the league’s Manager of the Year.

Bryan Toles managed the Axemen to a second place finish two years in a row following the loss of key personnel on his roster.

Commissioner Riopel congratulates Regan Hoet who was voted as the Most Valuable Player of the year in the NCABL in 2015.

Regan Hoet has now been recognized as an MVP of an All-Star Game, Championship Series, and of a regular season.

Dylan Borman is presented with the Dan Gerlach Memorial Trophy by Commissioner Riopel.

Borman is the second Axemen player in as many years to win the League’s Most Valuable Junior Player Award.

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Commissioner’s Corner To Provide Quarterly News on Upcoming 50th Festivities

Be sure to take a few minutes to check out the latest League business reports under Contacts/Commissioner’s Corner. You will find highlights from the most recent Board of Governors Meetings, news from our umpiring fraternity, as well as updates on the progress being made by the committee organizing our 50th anniversary celebrations which will be taking place in July and August of 2017. The latest information on scoring clinics as well as a complete registry of official scorers can also be found in the Commissioner’s Corner. Click here to find your way there now.

Umpire Mentorship Program Moving Forward

Good quality baseball needs good quality umpiring in order to retain the game’s integrity and to allow the full expression of all of the nuances of the game. The NCABL recognizes a need to foster the growth and development of this part of the game. To this end, our mentorship program and fall ID and development camp are aiming to produce a greater number of umpires who are not only familiar with the League but who are also better able to apply their new found knowledge to game situations. The Annual Umpire Meeting has just concluded and everyone has been briefed and is ready to go. This season the League will be covered by eight core and five casual umpires who will be working a total of 90 regular season games and four sanctioned tournaments. In order to sustain our numbers moving forward, all clubs will be approaching a local high school to inform them of our interest in introducing prospective candidates ages 16 - 21 to the officiating side of the game of baseball. Our work has just begun, but the effort has already shown positive results. This augurs well for the future of “the most progressive baseball league in the West”.

Spring is for Dreaming of Post Season Glory

An early spring with little snow to contend with has certainly pushed outdoor spring training ahead by at least two weeks. NCABL clubs have been busy studying their rosters and recruiting new players whenever they can to fill vacant spots left open by the retirement of some and the departure of others. Along with the uncertainty comes the anticipation of what the new group of prospective athletes will look like and play like when the season opens on May 7th and 8th. Will our perennial powers return to their enviable positions early in the season? Will a retooled newcomer challenge in the early goings of a new season? Will a club that struggled over the past few seasons suddenly emerge as a new challenger and post-season hopeful? These and many more questions are all part of the rite of spring, a time when the fresh air , warming afternoon sun, and greening grass along with the sound of baseballs popping gloves and cracking off of bats are of seemingly greater importance than any world news. Soon the real season will be starting and the stakes will once again be high. Only four will emerge to play deep into August. Only those teams with the talent to display, the dedication to practice, and the desire to win will experience the thrill of playing late into August. And that pennant….And that championship…..And those memories!!!

Fall Bi-Annual Features 50th Anniversary Highlights!

Aside from the usual order of business, the buzz at this fall’s bi-annual meeting of the Board of Governors was directly focused on the 2017 season when the NCABL will be celebrating its 50th anniversary. In addition to a number of smaller local events which will be taking place across the League in the summer of 17, the NCABL will be focusing on a few featured events. The League is confident that these major events will attract hundreds of baseball alumni to both Barrhead and Westlock. To better prepare for the 2017 All-Star Game, the host club from Barrhead submitted a two year proposal which was approved. Both the 2016 and 2017 All-Star Games have been given afternoon start times to facilitate the staging of many extras which will include tailgating activities with entertainment for the fans and games for the children in 2017. The All-Star Game extravaganza in 2017 will possibly be scheduled later in the season depending upon the success of a trial run in 2016 which will be using an August date. Previously, the annual All-Star Games have all been scheduled on either a Tuesday or Wednesday evening during the third full week of July. The August date will allow the Orioles to tie our event in with Blue Heron Days held annually in Barrhead. Two weeks later on August 18th, the alumni week-end will begin with a parade on Friday morning, a meet and greet titled “The NCABL Story” at the Spirit Centre on Friday evening, three games of LCSFS action on Saturday, a full day exposition for the general public in the Spirit Centre where the Hall of Fame will be set up, adult and children interactive activities planned, and the NCABL story exposed within its numerous press books which will all be on display. A kiosk will be open on both Friday evening for the alumni and their families as well as on Saturday for the general public where 50th anniversary paraphernalia will be up for sale. Draws for many prizes will also be available to be won by all who visit the hall. An alumni Texas scramble is also being planned on that week-end at the Westlock Golf Course. The Celebration 50 Gala at the Westlock Recreation Centre will follow. The organizing committee is planning a capful of surprises at both of their featured events. On Friday evening, five decades of All-Stars will be feted in grand style during the alumni meet and greet. On Saturday night, alumni and friends of the NCABL will be gathering for a fine banquet, an awards presentation, a featured guest speaker from the game of baseball, and finally with a dance featuring a top local band. The LCFS will conclude on Sunday topping off what promises to be a fun-filled and memorable not to be missed event for all of our alumni and friends. In addition, visitors will be treated to a full schedule of rodeo, chuck wagon, and other related activities during Westlock’s Annual Agricultural Fair. For all of the highlights from this Fall’s Bi-Annual Meeting, simply click here.

Commissioner Riopel had the pleasure of meeting Betty Carveth Dunn while a guest of the Edmonton Athletics during the annual Warriors Athletic Association Banquet and Awards Night. Betty Carveth, a pitcher for the Rockford Peaches and Fort Wayne Daisies of the AAGPBL, played her professional baseball in the mid-1940’s. These fine athletes were later featured in a Hollywood movie titled, “A League of Their Own”.

NCABL Focused On Addressing Umpire Shortage

The North Central Alberta Baseball League has always provided young and upcoming umpires with great opportunities for personal growth and development. The League has also maintained ! a strong bond with its core of umpires by retaining programs and policies which have focused on building close ties with its officiating personnel. The NCABL belongs to all who have an attachment to it and NCABL umpires are made to feel that they have contributed and that they therefore have a vested interest in the League’s future. Commissioner Riopel has been sounding the alarm for at least two seasons and his sense of urgency in wanting to address a current trend within the province of Alberta has not necessarily convinced many followers. Although the Board of Governors has been placed on high alert that the days of providing reliable and highly qualified umpires on demand may be coming to a sudden end, alarm bells never seem to frighten anyone to action like the real fire does. Waiting for the fire, however, may have a detrimental impact on the game itself and that possibility would be unfortunate in light of all of the League’s efforts in building a quality product on the field. The most recent attempt by the League to address the impending shortage of quality umpiring personnel took place recently at the SAMBA Clubhouse. Core umpires Jim Crawford and Alex Becigneul joined Commissioner Riopel in taking part in the League’s first Fall Umpire ID Camp & Workshop. A select number of hopefuls were introduced to the NCABL and provided with a day long workshop which focused on specific rule interpretations broken down into twenty minute teaching segments throughout the morning. The afternoon focused on the technical aspects of the game with emphasis on game control strategies, plate work, and the two-man system in general. In addition to providing an educational tool for its umpires, whether they might belong to the core, casual, call-up, or mentorship groupings, the League is hopeful of introducing a greater number of future prospects to what the NCABL has to offer. The ever expanding NCABL is hoping to add as many as three additional umpires to its core within the next two years while many more casual positions await those umpires whose availability is more restricted. Anyone interested in launching a promising career in amateur umpiring should inquire as to the possibilities awaiting them within the NCABL.

Club stats released August 15, 2015
LCS Club stats released August 31, 2015
Barrhead Orioles
Camrose Axemen St. Albert Cardinals
Edmonton Athletics Sherwood Park Athletics
Edmonton Blackhawks Stony Plain Mets
Edmonton Primeaus Sturgeon Paladins
Westlock Red Lions