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This is Baseball Canada’s top event, highest-calibre, with the champion being declared the best amateur team in Canada, presented with gold medals. Prince George (the World Baseball Challenge Society) bid on the event, and found out the successful result in November of 2010. Kelowna and Trail also bid on the right to host.
21 players, 3 coaches, one chef-de-mission; players are men (generally ages 18-35), many will be current college players or past college stars. Many players who will play in this tournament have played in either the 2009 or 2011 World Baseball Challenge in Prince George.
History with Prince George, and BC
Prince George hosted the event in 2002 at Monty Gabriele Park (now site of a strip mall that includes The Brick), with Alberta (St. Albert Tigers) defeating New Brunswick (Saint John Alpines) in extra innings in the final. Quebec finished third, beating B.C. in the bronze medal game. By hosting this event in 2012, Prince George will become the first city in B.C. to host the event twice. The Prince George Axemen grabbed bronze medal at the 2001 Baseball Canada Senior Championship, then narrowly missed the playoffs as host team in 2002. Both those teams were managed by Jim Swanson, who will manage the Axemen in 2012.
Number of teams
Eight teams; provincial champions from B.C. (Victoria Mavericks), Alberta (Fort Saskatchewan A’s), Manitoba (Reston Rockets), New Brunswick (Chatham Ironmen), Nova Scotia (Halifax Pelham Canadians), and the top two finishers from the Ontario provincial championship tournament, a grueling double-knockout tournament held on the August long weekend (Windsor Stars and Strathroy Royals), as well as the host team entry (Prince George Westcana Electric Axemen). Teams are in two pools, play round robin with the pool, with the top three teams from each pool advancing to playoffs. The Windsor Stars are the defending gold-medallists from the 2011 nationals, played in Chatham, New Brunswick, and the Stars have won five straight Ontario provincial titles, an unprecedented run of success in the province that has the most top-level senior baseball teams.
When the nationals were held in Prince George in 2002, the tournament also featured the defending champion – from New Brunswick, the Saint John Alpines, who beat the Dartmouth Moosehead Dry (featuring Darren Doucette) in 2001 in Kentville, Nova Scotia, a tournament in with the Axemen surprised everyone and finished third to claim the bronze medal. The Saint John Alpines would lose the 2002 championship game in extra innings to the St. Albert Tigers of Alberta, a team led by Jim Lawson and Danny Mikitka.
The Fort Saskatchewan A’s won the national title in 2009, and the Halifax Canadians have participated in nationals as recently as 2009 (with a roster including Prince George product and Axemen player Brandon Hunter). The Chatham Ironmen were the host team for the 2011 nationals, while the Reston Rockets, from a small town in southwest Manitoba, will be making their first appearance at the Canadian championship tournament.
The Victoria Mavericks come to Prince George again after finishing 1-2 at provincials at Citizen Field and failing to make the playoff round, despite Victoria having a very deep pool of talent to choose from with a league considered to be as strong, talent-wise, as any senior league in Canada. The battle-tested Langley Blaze, a class organization led by Dave Diachuk that tackles an aggressive and extensive schedule playing nearly 90 games, captured the B.C. title and will represent the province at the nationals in Windsor in 2013. The Blaze defeated an excellent Kamloops Sun Devils team, featuring Prince George minor baseball product Jeremy Kral, a catcher, by a 6-1 score in the provincial final.
A group of 33 committed local people, giving back to their community, volunteering time and expertise in areas ranging from concessions and parking to marketing and groundskeeping.
Host committee leadership
Chairman, Jim Swanson; Co-Chair, Lance Brommeland; Marketing Director, Shawn Rice. Complete nationals committee to be unveiled, for more information click here for contacts.