10 Things You Didn't Know About 2012

A look back at ten facts you might not haven known about the Canadians in 2012

By Vancouver Canadians | November 29, 2012 12:03 PM ET

(Scotiabank Field at Nat Bailey Stadium - Vancouver, B.C.) - It comes and goes in the blink of an eye, doesn't it?

Each summer the Vancouver Canadians roll up to historic Nat Bailey Stadium in the middle of June, play 76 games in 79 nights and then it's over almost as if it had never happened.

The beauty of this annual event is it makes us crave for more and gets us through the dampness of December when we think back to those warm summer nights where our hometown C's brought us all to our feet.

Beyond the slugged mugs and dancing grounds crew, long after the lights have been turned off and the echoes of a Canadians victory have had their say - we are simply left with the memories and moments that can only happen here, at Scotianbank Field at Nat Bailey Stadium.

As we look back on a second straight championship season, here's a collection of facts that perhaps you didn't know that have been put together by Canadians broadcaster Rob Fai who spent many a night alongside the team as they travelled throughout the Northwest in search of victories.


Fact #1:

Canadians manager Clayton McCullough would only wear Golf Pants during road trips on the bus

"I ended buying three pairs of the exact same pants after seeing how awesome they travelled. I mean, those pants didn't wrinkle, didn't crease - Clayton looked professional every step of the way regardless of how long he had been curled up trying to sleep on the bus or whatever," states Fai.

"I would always try and ask him where he got them, but he never really let on. Maybe he didn't want others looking the same - but this year he'll have competition should he come back. If not, I am going to be the style guru in 2013," adds Fai laughing at the thought.

Fact #2:

The Canadians played the final regular season game in Yakima Bears history

Vancouver RHP Zack Breault evened his record at .500 for the summer (2-2) when he became the winning pitcher of record in the final regular season game to ever be played at Yakima's County Stadium on September 1st, 2012.

The C's would fall behind 1-0 after an inning, but manage to tie it up in the 4th inning when Carlos Ramirez would double home Santiago Nessy.

That would be all the scoring until the top of the 11th inning where Vancouver would bust out for a trio of runs capped off by a two-run triple from Derrick Chung that helped seal a 4-1 victory for the Canadians, their 46th victory of the summer tying a franchise record (2005).

For Yakima, the loss wasn't all bittersweet as they would host the Boise Hawks in a best-of-three East Division Championship Series, falling in the final game of that series.

The Bears of Yakima ended up losing their final five games out at County Stadium before packing up and beginning the re-location process to Hillsboro, Oregon - new home of the Hillsboro Hops for the 2013 season.

Fact #3:

The Canadians travelled better than ever in 2012

Minor League Baseball and luxury aren't usually two thoughts that find themselves associated with each other, but the Canadians of 2012 must have felt like they were rolling in it as they travelled throughout the Northwest on not one, but two, Universal Coaches.

Pitchers and coaching staff took one bus while positional players set up on the other vehicle.

The difference?

Each player got his own 'pair' of seats meaning no two players had to sit directly beside each other. This was an adjustment made by the Toronto Blue Jays organization to help their players take better care of their bodies and mental approach over the summer.

Some might say that it would hurt camaraderie within the team but as Rob Fai mentions, it had the opposite effect.

"To wake up refreshed and ready to play is really what this move was all about. Half of the arguments you end up having on a bus within the Minor Leagues are about some guy waking up another guy, or some guy taking up too much of the seat, and stuff like that. With our new arrangement, that was not an issue and I think the Blue Jays hit the nail on the head with this one".

The Canadians would finish 12-9 (.571) on travel days and were 3-1 (.750) on travel days in the post-season.

Fact #4:

Vancouver baseball players were tough to 'beat' even off the field

When it comes to life in the Minor Leagues, the old adage 'hurry up and wait' really does apply. Ask any player of the Vancouver Canadians what they dread the most and most will say all of the waiting or down time.

What did almost half of the C's player use to help pass the time?

Beats by Dr. Dre.

What are Beats? Well, they are headphones that players can use to listening to music, watch movies or pretty much anything electronic. But these aren't just regular headphones, they are state-of-the-art headphones that rap mogul Dr. Dre put out to increase bass and equalization of anything electronic.

The result?

A lot of head-bobbing, lip-synching and happy players during those moments where there didn't seem to be a whole lot going on.

Fact #5:

Never mess with the "baseball Gods", ever

In Minor League Baseball we've all heard about superstitions that consume certain players. From jumping over the chalk foul line to wearing ladies garter belts (see: Bull Durham), nothing has changed when it comes to respecting the streak and knowing to go with the flow.

But then there was 17-year old Canadians pitcher Roberto Osuna.

You see, the C's caught fire as the calendar flipped to the month of August and heading into a game with the Tri-City Dust Devils in Washington State, our boys had won seven in a row.

The one constant?

All of those games had the Canadians wearing their black jerseys. Beginning on August 31st against Salem-Keizer, the Canadians began to roll.

We would sweep division rival Salem-Keizer all while wearing the black jerseys, then travel down to Eugene and sweep the Emeralds right in their own ballpark - all in black jerseys. Off to Tri-City and once again, a series opening victory over the Dust Devils with - you guessed it - all of our players sporting the same look.

A quick note here, every game, it is the starting pitcher of that day's game who tells the team what colour jersey they are going to wear.

So when 17-year old standout Roberto Osuna yelled out 'grey', the clubhouse looked like they had just been kicked in the stomach.

Some mumbled, some shook their heads - but the call had been made and the baseball Gods sat up to take notice.

The game that night was one of the worst the C's played all year falling 8-1 in Tri-City.

Even when the next night's pitcher, Ben White, put the black jerseys back onto the players - it didn't matter. White would go five fantastic innings but watched in horror as Eric Brown and Bryan Longpre saw the game go off the rails with Vancouver losing again, 9-3.

A third straight loss, 5-1, had the Canadians suddenly fighting a three-game losing streak after running perfect for a calendar week.

Something had to give as their pursuit of a West Division title was slipping right before their very eyes.

The answer? A seance of course.

Every Vancouver Canadians player brought something into a baby powdered circle and left it there for the seance.

Then, Roberto Osuna was sat down in the middle of the circle and sprinkled gently with baby powder as the C's sang 'O Canada' in unison without any shirts on.

Had they exorcised the angry baseball Gods?

Kellen Sweeney would go 3-for-5, the C's would pound out 17 hits on the night as Vancouver cruised to a 10-4 victory. The boys would go onto win four of the next five games - all wearing their black jerseys - including Roberto Osuna.

Fact #6:

Boise is the top stop for Canadians players when on road

This one is simple when you think of just how close the hotel is to the downtown core of Boise.

A great number of restaurants combined with a fun and vibrant downtown area - this college town reminds a lot of our players who went to a school in the U.S. of the fun they had before life became a job.

"It's probably one of the hottest stops in the league temperature wise, but you play your game, shower up and can still find a really decent restaurant to sit around and reflect on the night," says Rob Fai who has made the trip to Boise in each of his past six seasons behind the microphone.

"It feels safe, is very, very beautiful and to me is maybe the best kept secret as a travel destination in the Northwest.

Some mornings a few of the players will wake up and float the Snake River which is about a 2 1/2 hour float down a quiet river on an inflatable tube. You float past Boise State University and through the city and it's really something to remember during a really hectic season".

Fact #7

Good things came in 7's for the Canadians

"The Northwest League Championship Series versus Boise will likely go down as the most fun I have ever had broadcasting a game in my life - nothing will top those moments for me," states Rob Fai who watched the Canadians offense come alive not once, but twice in the historic best-of-three championship series of 2012.

Game One of the NWL Championship saw the mighty Boise Hawks roll into Vancouver with an offense that was more than enough to deliver a title to fans of Hawkstown, USA.

Early on, it looked like this would be over early as the Hawks powered their way to a convincing 7-1 lead that had Nat Bailey Stadium in complete disbelief that it would come 'this' easy to the talent laden Hawks of Boise.

But the Canadians stayed the course and waited to get into the Hawks suspect bullpen and in the bottom of the 7th inning, Vancouver's offense answered back with a 29-minute half inning that produced seven runs powering the Canadians to their first lead of the game, and eventually a 10-7 victory.

Art Charles had a two-run home run in the bottom of the 6th inning to breathe some life into the Vancouver faithful, but when Balbino Fuenmayor slapped a single through the left side of the infield with runners on to give the C's a 9-7 lead - it was likely the loudest Scotiabank Field has ever sounded.

After Boise stormed back with a gut-wrenching victory in Boise, in a game Vancouver could have taken - it was on to Game Three and a one-game winner take all for the Northwest League title.

Unlike 2011, where Vancouver had the support of the home crowd against the Tri-City Dust Devils, now they had to walk into the mouth of the lion and face Boise at home.

The Canadians would pounce early with two runs in the top of the 1st inning, only to watch Boise score four in the bottom half of the inning with big first baseman Dan Vogelbach slamming a home run off of nearly perfect Taylor Cole.

Vancouver would regain the lead with a three-run top of the 4th inning to chase Boise starter Tayler Scott only to watch the Hawks score three in the bottom of the inning to chase Taylor Cole and give the Hawks a 6-5 lead.

Back and forth this game went like two prize fighters squaring off in the middle of the ring before Vancouver caught the Hawks with an uppercut they wouldn't recover from.

Wouldn't you know it, a seven-run outburst, this time in the top of the 8th inning gave Vancouver a 12-7 lead.

From wild pitches to errors, Boise buckled under the pressure. Not to sell the Canadians short, our boys capitalized grabbing three hits including a bases clearing triple from Art Charles to put this one on ice.

The Hawks would rally but the deficit was simply too large as the big seven run inning would help Vancouver to 'both' of their victories in the 2012 NWL Championship.

Fact #8:

He was the face you knew with the name you loved

Canadians first baseman Balbino Fuenmayor was a large part of the reason we can lay claim to being back-to-back Northwest League Champions. With the pressure of being the face of the team and having to perform everyday on the diamond, it made you appreciate the moments when you'd find Balbino huddled in a lone corner within the clubhouse or in the lobby of a hotel chatting with his wife back in Venezuela.

Heading to Vancouver, Balbino's wife was 7 1/2 months pregnant back home and as timing would have it, she was scheduled to give Balbino his first child just days after the season ended - that of course was 'on paper'.

Every day he would call, text, write.

Everyday an update, a few calming words to a wife with a sore back, emotions running wild and a husband still pursuing a dream 4,000 miles away.

Balbino would deliver for the Canadians in 2012, much like he did in 2011. But his greatest delivery was days after the end of our season when he rushed home to be with his wife for the birth of his first child - a little girl named Camilla.

Fact #9:

'The Spread Crusher'

There is always one guy that when the players meal comes out, he fights his way to the front or fills his plate until the Styrofoam begins to curl.

Usually that honour goes to a hulking outfielder or a big, towering first baseman that is 6'6" and needs a world of calories.

So when the players unanimously labeled Canadians shortstop Jorge Flores as the 2012 spread crusher, you could imagine how some eyebrows might have risen when the thought of 5'5" Jorge Flores being labeled 'The Crusher' came to be.

"I had to see it to believe it, but man, that little guy could eat. He'd put together a few peanut butter and jam sandwiches, grab some pretzels, eat some fruit. Come back, make a sandwich and then hit a powerade. Even then he'd be eyeing what was left over afterwards to perhaps make another sandwich.

True story, we are in Eugene, and I missed the press box meal which happens from time to time. By the end of the night I was starving and hurried back to the clubhouse to see if I could talk Drew (our trainer) into giving me a bite to eat. It was all cleared out and I had nothing. With an eight-hour bus ride ahead, I was pretty bummed out.

Jorge heard me talking to Drew and kind of gave me this head nod as if to follow him. I did, and he led me to his locker where low and behold - he emerged with - a sandwich.

Part of me wanted to laugh, but part of me wanted to take back everything I had said.

The fact was he knew that on most days, someone would miss the spread because of doing extra work and what have you.

He would make about three or four extra sandwiches to ensure that if they needed it, there was some food left over for them too.

I was super impressed," says Fai.

Fact #10:

Outfielder Matt Newman proposed to his girlfriend at English Bay with the help of his teammates

Most men think of something creative when it comes to proposing to their significant other. For Matt Newman of the C's, this thought had been running through his mind for some time and now in Vancouver with his girlfriend visiting, he wanted to strike while the coals were hot.

Grabbing a collection of players after a 'Nooner, Newman would take his girlfriend out on a boat and eventually work it around to English Bay.

Once facing our famous shoreline, Newman had his girlfriend (Michelle) look inward toward the beach where our players including Matt Johnson and Arik Sikula would hold up signs spelling the phrase 'Will You Marry Me?'

A quick 'yes' later and the Newman's are already planning their Arizona-based wedding with a handful of our players on the guest list.


This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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