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Ryan Roberts willing to go the distance to play baseball with his buddies


Ryan Roberts doesn’t have a baseball field anywhere near his home in St. Paul’s so he never really saw himself wearing a team jersey in a provincial minor baseball tournament.

He is from a tiny town on the Northern Peninsula where there are few youngsters to toss a ball around with, an odd toss with his dad in the backyard or getting his parents to drive him to Cow Head to play catch with a few of his buddies.

Being from a small town with limited athletic opportunities available to him has meant a commitment to travel both for him and his parents.

During the winter months, he travels from St. Paul’s to Rocky Harbour where he is a goalie in the Gros Morne Minor Hockey Association so he spends a fair amount of time on the highway.

This summer, he heard a few of his buddies from the down the coast were going to be playing baseball in the Pasadena minor program so he decided he would do the same.

His parents drives him to Pasadena, a 90-minute drive on most days, for practices and games three times per week.

He wasn’t throwing the ball around on the diamond long before he found out there was going to be tryouts for the Pasadena AA mosquito team and he decided to attend the workouts to see if he could make the cut.

He was a happy camper when he read on the baseball association’s Facebook page that he had made the team.

Being able to share the diamond with young fellas his age means a lot to him.

“I used to ask mom and dad to drive me out to Cow Head just to have somebody to play with,” the 10-year-old son of Malcolm Roberts and Denise Bennett said Wednesday from St. Paul’s. “There’s not too many kids around here, definitely not enough for a baseball team.”

The Pasadena Pirates will host the 2017 provincial mosquito AA baseball tournament this weekend at the Bennett Sports Complex with nine teams vying for bragging rights.

The host team is comprised of 12 players, six first-year players and six second-years with a couple of players from Deer Lake sprinkled into the mix with Pasadena’s best in the division.

Roberts is only 10 years old but already he has shown versatility as he’s seen action in every position except the pitcher’s mound since he became a Pirate.

His favourite place on the diamond is the hot corner at third base, but he’s just happy to be able to get on the diamond and play the game so he’s willing to play any role for the coaching staff.

He has made some new friends and he’s enjoying the game so he hopes nothing changes when his Pirates take on some of the best AA mosquito players in Newfoundland and Labrador.

He’s confident the boys can put off a good showing for the hometown fans, which will be a chance for family and friends to check out the development of the team over the past summer.

Pirates coach Greg Whalen believes his team has had some great games against Corner Brook’s AAA mosquito team to prepare for the challenge and he believes his team can hold their own if they can play sound defence from start to finish and his pitching staff can throw strikes on a consistent basis. Too often this season, according to the coach, the team faltered in the later innings with costly mistakes in the field.

“Our bats have been there all year I just hope they don’t disappear,” Whelan said.

With six players in their second year, leadership doesn’t appear to be an issue with this group. Coach Whelan is impressed with how his group always have fun no matter how tough things get on the field.

“They don’t seem like a team that pressure really gets to them very much so I think that’s one of our strengths,” coach Whelan said

The Pirates hope to feed off the crowd with family and friends getting a chance to see them play on home turf instead of having to travel across the island.

It’s going to be a great weekend for Roberts no matter what unfolds because he appreciates having a chance to play the game with a good group of new friends.

Everything else is a bonus really.

“I’m feeling good. We got a good team so hopefully we get some fun out of it and we get a few wins,” he said.

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