Star Gazing at The Nat

Canadians broadcaster Rob Fai thinks back to a few familar faces that didn't play for the C's but did stop by here in Vancouver

By Rob Fai / Vancouver Canadians | February 7, 2017 2:32 PM ET

(Scotiabank Field at Nat Bailey Stadium - Vancouver, B.C.) - Marcus Stroman. Kevin Pillar. Aaron Sanchez. Noah Syndergaard. The list of former Vancouver Canadians who have ascended to the bright lights of the Major Leagues is charming, yet tells only some of the story when we look back at greats to have played here at Scotiabank Field over the past few seasons.

You have to remember, a few of the "bad guys" have also suited up for both a Northwest League franchise before finding safe passage onto a Major League roster.

Now, before we begin to delve into the annals of NWL history, let it be known that neither Russell Wilson, the Super Bowl winning quarterback that also played for the Tri-City Dust Devils nor Buster Posey of the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes ever stepped foot onto our grass here at Nat Bailey. Some would like to suggest that they did, but it is not so.

However, Josh Donaldson did while catching for the Boise Hawks (2007). The "Panda" Pablo Sandoval played third base for the Volcanoes for a season as the stocky infielder went 7-for-22 (.318) here at "The Nat". Rough and tumble Spokane Indians infielder, Roughned Odor was 4-for-12 in Vancouver between August 2-4 of 2011 before the Rangers called him up to do battle in the Lone Star State.

Doug Fister pitched for the Everett Aquasox back in 2006 when the Canadians held on for a victory that sent the future Major League arm to 1-2 on his Northwest League season.

It's not just players that occasionally stick out as names like Bill Buckner, Doug Jones and Mark Grace have all been found sporting uniforms of the opposing team while coaching up their respective prospects in the visitor's dugout.

Buckner twice was the hitting coach of the Boise Hawks (2012-13) when the Vancouver Canadians found ways to top the Chicago Cubs NWL affiliate for a second and third straight title - while it was Mark Grace's Hillsboro Hops who stopped that title run of more than 1,100 days with a series sweep of Vancouver in 2014.

Sometimes the most recognizable face isn't even on the field as back during the 2012 season, a tall and slender outfielder for the Boise Hawks couldn't help but shake his head when his dad walked into the seating area at Nat Bailey Stadium, causing quite the commotion. We're pretty sure Trevor Gretzky probably knew that would happen when his dad decided to take in a ballgame here in Vancouver.

The stars are everywhere, and sometimes not just in a Vancouver Canadians uniform. It's fun to star gaze once in a while and even though the "other" team is the one that we are trying to beat - it's hard not to look down at the road team's roster and wonder if they don't have a few stars in the making as well.

Chances are they do, and that's what makes coming to the ballpark just a little more special.


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

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