Greg Barry doesn’t need much prodding to head to the west coast when the opportunity arises, but he’s always pumped when it involves playing baseball at Jubilee Field.
Barry, a Pasadena native, will be in Corner Brook this weekend as a member of the Feildians Ellsworth Group chasing the championship trophy at the 2014 Molson Provincial Senior Club Baseball Tournament.
Barry and company bowed out in the final in last year’s event, held at St. Pat’s Ball Park in St. John’s, losing 11-6 to Trapper John’s Shamrocks. The tournament, in its third year, was held in Corner Brook in its inagural season with the hometown Veitch’s Ultramar Hawks claiming the championship trophy.
The Shamrocks won’t be heading to the west coast to defend the crown, so a new champion will be crowned.
“We’re going to come out with every intention of winning, but at the end of the day it’s a little bit of fun and just getting prepared for the rest of the season,” the southpaw pitcher said from St. John’s earlier this week.
The field of club teams hoping to be an obstacle in denying Barry a title include St. John’s Senior Baseball League rival Holy Cross Trinity Pub Crusaders, and the four club teams from the local senior baseball league — the West Side Monarchs, Veitch Physio Aces, Veitch’s Ultramar Hawks and the expansion Wing ‘n It Curling Marlins.
Barry said his team will hit the highway Friday bound for the city with a number of key players missing, but still believes his team can compete. While he expects to see some decent baseball from all club teams, he’s never one to shy away from having a few sociables. He said that’s a key component of a weekend set aside for club teams.
“We don’t have all our squad coming out, but it’s a really fun tournament to kick off the year so we’re all looking forward to getting out on a little road trip and having a few whatever you know,” he said.
Barry lives on the east coast because that’s where he found employment, but he insists the west is where his heart lies.
“Any time I can get home ... it’s always a treat to play on the west coast, especially Jubilee Field such a historic place,” he said.
Having a fun time both on and off the field is certainly something a lot of players look forward to every year when they hit the diamond for the club team showcase.
Frank Humber of the Hawks is quick to point out fun is first and foremost on the minds of players, but he’s also ready to tell everybody that playing the game the way it’s suppose to be played doesn’t change at the club team level.
“As the old saying goes ‘if you’re keeping score, you’re trying to win,” Humber said. “So when we play, obviously, we play like a normal game of ball ... we play it to win.”
Short tournament challenge
The challenge for all teams in a short tournament like this one, he said, is the reality of playing four or five games over three days so the depth of the pitching staffs are tested pretty heavily. He said club teams only have a few arms to go around, so it’s a big task to expect pitching to be sharp with so much work over a short period of time.
“So, you get a lot of guys out of position and a lot of guys in there trying to get the ball over the plate,” Humber said. “As the games wear on, certainly for us, the pitching depth often goes down. There’s no such thing as saving your ringer for the finals or anything. It doesn’t happen. It can’t happen.”
Humber said it’s always a nice change of scenery for the local players to play other teams, and he figures the teams from the east coast also look forward to seeing a different group of faces ready to challenge them for a win.
“It’s an opportunity to see new faces and compete against fellas on other teams from different centres,” he said.
The tournament opens up tonight with the four Corner Brook Senior Baseball League teams hitting Jubilee Field. The Aces tangle with the Marlins at 6 p.m. and the Monarchs battle the Hawks 8:30 p.m. at Jubilee Field.
For a complete tournament schedule see the Scoreboard on page 14 of today's Western Star.