(Scotiabank Field at Nat Bailey Stadium - Vancouver, B.C.) - There is not much more that we can add to the year 2013 than to say to each and every fan that reads this story - thank you. Beyond Championships and a sold out stadium, the Vancouver Canadians wish you and your loved ones the safest and most enjoyable of holidays over the next few weeks.
As we get ready to flip the calendar to 2014 and gear up for another exciting summer here at the ballpark, we'd love to take a page from the 12 Days of Christmas and reflect on the year that was.
The Vancouver Canadians would welcome the Toronto Blue Jays to Vancouver as part of the 3rd Annual Scotiabank Hot Stove Luncheon at the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver. The C's were joined by Paul Beeston, Alex Anthopoulos, Brendan Morrow and Langley, B.C. native Brett Lawrie as they looked forward to a season that included the addition of a number of key players including R.A. Dickey, Jose Reyes and Melky Cabrera.
Our event was able to raise north of $100,000 in just a few hours as we raised both funding and awareness to our Vancouver Canadians Baseball Foundation and the many local children that it reaches.
February marked a somber month for the Canadians as Hall of Fame broadcaster Hal Rodd passed away at the age of 91 after calling professional baseball games in Vancouver dating back to the 1940's.
Rodd worked for Bob Brown at Athletic Park and was the first voice to be heard on the Vancouver airwaves when the baseball came to Capilano Stadium in 1951.
As well, pitcher Zack Breault, a member of the 2011 Vancouver Canadians Championship team decided to retire from the game of professional baseball shortly after returning to his home in Ontario.
Ownership travelled down to Dunedin, Florida to present the 2012 Vancouver Canadians with a Northwest League Championship ring symbolizing their efforts on the diamond. Names like Marcus Stroman, Matt Newman and Balbino Fuenmayor were on-hand to receive this cherished part of the game and reflected on the C's second straight title.
"Vancouver will always hold a special place in my heart. It was a part of my first year in professional baseball and the people I met made me feel welcome and appreciated," said pitcher Marcus Stroman who went 1-0 with a 3.18 ERA in seven games here in Vancouver.
The Northwest League announced that it was set to bring back an All-Star Game and that Everett had received the responsibility of hosting the annual event. The Aquasox, Minor League Affiliate of the Seattle Mariners would welcome the best in the Northwest on August 6th, 2013 and without giving away too much from our upcoming recaps did an outstanding job.
Toronto Blue Jays fans came out in huge numbers to Rogers Center (Toronto, ON) as the new look Blue Jays would stumble out of the gates going 10-17 (.370) in April and lose SS Jose Reyes on the 12th with a broken ankle sustained in Kansas City.
The C's announced their 2013 Superstar Series roster presented by Blake's and the BC Sports Hall of Fame and it was one of the most memorable on record. Included were the great Rollie Fingers, Larry Walker, Ernie Whitt and Tim Raines - but not to be outdone, former Blue Jays great Joe Carter would head to Scotiabank Field on the 20th anniversary of his legendary World Series home run belted back in 1993.
Vancouver Canadians supporters also learned of a new initiative to help Strike Out Heart Disease as a Celebrity Softball Game was created with full proceeds going to the St. Paul's Hospital Foundation.
The event to be held just days before the season's first pitch raised over $60,000 in support of St. Paul's Hospital and its many life-saving initiatives.
Play Ball! The Canadians would open up defense of the Northwest League Championship on a warm summer night in Pasco, WA against Tri-City. Vancouver would top the Dust Devils 9-5 and feature a handful of Canadian-born talents including 3B Justin Atkinson and RHP Eric Brown.
The C's would go 10-7 in the month of June, but find themselves a whopping four games back of Everett who blasted out of the gates to a 14-3 (.824) record, one of the best in league history.
A new wrinkle in the league came in the form of a division realignment as well with the Canadians going from the old West Division (Eugene, Everett, Salem-Keizer and Vancouver) to the new North Division featuring Everett, Spokane, Tri-City and Vancouver.
The Aquasox would claim a spot in the post-season on the 21st of the month as Vancouver would fall 2-1 to Eugene while Everett topped Boise 8-7 in the 36th game of a 38-game first half. For the Canadians it would leave one last chance to find a way into the playoffs having to now clinch thre second half title while all eight teams in the league saw the standing revert back to 0-0 with 38 games remaining in the season.
Eight Vancouver Canadians players were selected to the NWL All-Star Game set for August 6th with RHP Eric Brown and 1B Jordan Leyland leading the charge. Also selected were 1B L.B. Dantzler, OF Ian Parmley, OF Brendan Kalfus, SS Dickie Thon, C Mike Reeves and RHP Jeremy Gabryszwski
Vancouver would see a number of player movements early in August including the arrival of a pair of Canadian-born arms in LHP Shane Dawson and RHP Tom Robson. For many locals, the name Robson was more than familiar as Tom was from Ladner, B.C., about 20 minutes from Scotiabank Field - but it would be Dawson who dazzled early being named Pitcher of the Week after just two outings for the C's in which he racked up 15 strikeouts in just nine innings including a victory over the league's newest addition, the Hillsboro Hops (Aug 4).
Everett hosted the All-Star Game that saw Canadians 3B Justin Atkinson and 1B L.B. Dantzler hit home runs in the mid-summer classic, which turned out to be one as the South came back to top the North 8-7.
The Candians would go 12-15 in the month of August but watched as the rest of the North Division struggled as well keeping Vancouver's slim playoff hopes alive.
Both Spokane and Vancouver would stay close with division leading Everett who had already clinched the first half pennant meaning should they go onto secure the second half as well, either Vancouver or Spokane would get in based on their record over 76 games. In the end?
Vancouver would squeak past Spokane and return to the playoffs for a fourth consecutive season dating back to 2010 and meet Everett in the North Division best-of-three final. The Canadians would only need two games as Vancouver won the opener 5-1 and then travelled to Everett where they topped the Aquasox 11-4 to return to the Northwest League Championship for a third straight season where they would meet Boise, the team the Canadians defeated for the 2012 title.
Vancouver would get humbled in Game 1 of the NWL Championship falling 5-0 in Boise after thre Hawks dominated the rematch from start to finish moving to with one game of the Championship.
Game 2 and if needed, Game 3 were to be played back in Vancouver in a building that is almost impossible to beat the Canadians come playoff time.
DH Mitch Nay and 2B Andy Fermin got in on the key moments of Game 2 to help top Boise 4-2 and set up a one game, winner takes all for the NWL Championship with the Canadians holding back RHP Tom Robson for the all-or-nothing game. On September 10th, 2013 the Canadians would pound out a 5-0 shutout victory to become just the third team in NWL history to win three straight titles (Boise, Spokane).
Canadians 1B L.B. Dantzler would be named NWL Player of the Year marking the first time since 2004 (Javier Herrera) that a Vancouver player would be considered the best in the league.
It was right back to community appearances and preparing for the 2014 season as the Canadians hosted their 8th annual Thanksgiving Turkey Drive along with Safeway, Avis Rent-A-Car and The Salvation Army.
The event saw more than 100 local families in need receive a family-sized turkey with a cooking pan and baking instructions in time for the holidays.
Canadians Financial Controller Eric Gounder changed gears in his career taking a position within the Calgary Flames organization after cheering on the C's to a pair of NWL titles.
The Vancouver Canadians Baseball Club received Minor League Baseball's highest honour in November acknowledged as recipients of the coveted John H. Johnson President's Award, given to the most 'complete' organization within Minor League Baseball.
This marked the first time in 40 years that the John H. Johnson Award would find its way to Canada, and only the second time in its history that a team outside of the United Stated would receive Minor League Baseball's highest accolade (Mexico City '76).
We also said best wishes to General Manager Jason Takefman who chose a position within Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Canada. After eight years within the C's family, Jason left behind a strong legacy of customer service and friendships to many around Vancouver's baseball community.
JC Fraser was tagged as the 12th GM in franchise history after joining the Canadians in 2007.
The special guests were unveiled for the upcoming 4th annual Scotiabank Hot Stove Luncheon featuring the Toronto Blue Jays was announced and it was quite the list of baseball names. Hall of Fame second baseman Roberto Alomar is to join Fred McGriff, Kevin Pillar, Paul Beeston and Alex Anthopoulos here in Vancouver on Friday, January 24th, 2014 as the Canadians once again host an event to raise both funding and awareness for the Vancouver Canadians Baseball Foundation (VCBF).
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.