A Few Thoughts on Our Calgary Vipers

The thought of losing the Calgary Vipers makes me feel sick to my stomach.

All I know is what has already been printed in the papers, but it doesn’t look good for professional baseball in our city, and that’s a real shame.

While we all sit and wait on what the future holds for our beloved Vipers, I thought I’d reminisce over what I gained as a Vipers fan.

First and foremost, being there as the Calgary Vipers won the 2009 GBL Championship still stands as my #1 all-time favourite moment on fandom in any sport and for any team. That was the year I started this blog (which I only planned on doing for one year at the time, but I got a lot of positive comments and decided to carry through) and even though I was still just a fan with no special access or privileges, I felt more connected to that 2009 Calgary Vipers team than any other sports team I’ve followed. Evan Greusel (the only ace pitcher/pitching coach I’ve seen) earned the win that night. I’m really happy that team got to drink champagne.

I liked the Foothills Stadium experience. The beer vendors were hard working and made sure I was never thirsty. The cheese fries became a regular supper. I even got to participate in a few on-field events and finished with a .500 record for the inflatable horse race.

My wife is a huge Drew Miller fan (so am I, but she takes precedent) and we often marveled at his batting stance and his power. Those were home run bucket toonies well spent. Plus, he gave my wife a hat.

I gained a new all-time favourite baseball player in “The Cobra Clutch” Joe Sergent. As a kid growing up I liked Marquis Grissom of the Expos but Sergent became the new #1. I actually got to talk to him a few times and he was gracious, informative, and genuine – plus a damn good pitcher. Watching him pitch 6 perfect innings one summer afternoon was a highlight.

Tracking Darryl Brinkley and then Nelson Castro chase and achieve .400 batting averages was a thrill. How many sports fans can say they saw a player on their team bat .400? How many can say they saw two?

And not only did I get to watch MVPs in action, I also got to see Colin Moro, a local kid, earn Rookie of the Year honours. He was certainly a favourite.

On the other side of the ball, I enjoyed watching good defense from the likes of Fehlandt Lentini, Jonny Kaplan, Louis Templeton, Jose Mejia, and many more. You can never take good defense for granted in indy ball.

The sounds we all like from a baseball park were as clear at Foothills Stadium as they were anywhere else. When a pitcher was warming up in the bullpen, you could get close enough to hear the air tearing up. Incredible.

Thanks to this blog I not only got comments from Calgary Vipers players, but also from their moms – which was actually quite touching. I don’t know what other sport league presents a simple fan with these kinds of opportunities.

This entry was posted in Calgary Vipers, Independent Baseball, North American League. Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to A Few Thoughts on Our Calgary Vipers

  1. Drew Miller says:

    I sure wish there were more people out there that cared about the team as much as we do. No matter which way it goes I have to thank you for your support. I will try to keep you up to date on what i find out when i do.

  2. xolager says:

    Thanks Drew. I wish you the best of luck no matter how things turn out for the Vipers.

  3. Jason says:

    The media is presenting headlines like: “Last At Bat For Vipers?”, and “Vipers Collapasing”, like the team is just going to fold because Mr. Gidney is no longer able to be involved physically or financially. So, if GM John was truly funding the team for the 2011 season, putting in 100 hours a week, and looking to buy part or all the team, why on earth did the Gidney family not sell?!? Obiviously the family wasn’t/isn’t willing to put money into the club- so why hold on to it?

    They were just willing to hold on to Ownership, while another guy paid the bills? Seriously? I know Jeff Gidney said over and over in the papers since 2005 that there was no way he was going to give up the club, or interested in selling, even though it seemed obivious to fans like me that the Vipers probably never made a dime. Mr. Gidney was the best owner of a sports club in this city ever, to me, because he seemingly did it for the love of it, sitting in those cheap seat bleachers game after game while there were 4000 better empty seats.

    I could be completely wrong, but it just seems to me that that the Vipers were Mr. Gidney’s “toy” that the family is not interested in. I cannot believe the statement on the Absolute Baseball Academy’s website from the Gidneys that they, “are not at all aware of or involved in any of the Calgary Vipers operations or financial matters whatsoever”.

    How is this even possible? How could the family members not be aware of the state of Mr. Gidney’s ballclub across the parking lot, that sells Vipers related merchandise, has players from the Vipers visiting clubs practice/teach in their facility? I really have a hard time believing that! I only believe that the Vipers financial world does not impact the AB Academy.

    Anyone who saw Mr. Gidney attend games in 2010 saw the deterioration of his health. It was very suprising, very sad. This was the same man who enthusiastically told me about the great new yellow seats he was installiing, so full of excitement for his club. He even wanted to buy Foothills Stadium from the City. Some of us fans are aware of the nature of his illness- it hasn’t been made “public” as far as I know and I’m not going to say it here, but It made me pesimistic for a 2012 season- an indicator for me was for the 1st time, there was no scoreboard announcements for 2012 Season Tickets.

    I just wonder why the family continued Ownership, and did not put the team on the block way,way before now? Why did it get to a point where the players, and hard working kids working the games didn’t get paid? That’s rediculous!

    Why let it get to this point?

    The weird thing is- that was the best run season yet we just had. Best promotions, best in game presentations, bigger name sponsorships, really good events like the Womens Slo Pitch and I think they were going to have a car show and Bluegrass Festival-maximizing use of the stadium.

    The ballclub was a really good group of players- talented and skilled, entertaining ball. Better players were brought in as the season went on. Everything seemed fine. The Home Run Derby was announced to be the 1st of an annual event to come.

    Now it all may be over. Who would buy the Vipers, honestly? The North American League is stupid. Badly run, reduculous owners,stadiums, geographical locations/travel, etc. I cannot take the league itself seriously. The players, however, are great to watch. I support the Vipers every year with season tickets. It’s as the club says, “fun, affordable, family entertainment”. And thats the way I look at it.

    Every day I listen to the sports and expect to hear the Vipers are done. That sucks. I wish someone would come to the rescue- the Flames? The Parker family? Even the Capitals owner? Heck, some guy owns a bunch of teams in this league. Again, Mr. Gidney was a one-in-a-million owner would fund this club when most would have packed it in in 2005. I am thankful to him for the Vipers, thankful to John (forget his last name!) for the 2011 season. I too have fantastic memories of Drew Miller’s powerful batting stance, the Championship night, Nelson Castro’s smooth throws and batting, Darryl Brinkley’s power at the plate, Slider- the best looking mascot in sports, Jonny Kaplan’s sheer speed and determination,- Mamabu Karamochi, Carlos Duncan, the brawl… I could go on forever. I wish more Calgarians appreciated what we have/had in the Vipers.

    I went to Foothills Stadiium and sa the weathered,taped statement on the office doors talking about “reassessing and restructuring”. Is the media is making the situation maybe sound worse than it may be? Why fold-why not at least look for a buyer, shut down for a year, like the Long Beach Armada, OC Flayers, Tucon Toros, etc. Mr. Gidneys ownership ending does not have to be the end, does it? I guess we will wait and see.

  4. Kevin says:

    I am grateful to the players and people who made the Vipers go for calgary.

    Sad to see them go.

    My kids truely enjoyed the games, and it gave them a tangible reason to dream about baseball.

  5. Wayne, Calgary says:

    I am really sad to see the Vipers go. My wife, a senior, had never attended a baseball game in her life & the Vipers was the first game she attended. We both got “hooked” on the Vipers and the ballpark atmosphere and continued to carry on with the experience when we visited South Carolina to enjoy the games there. Sorry state to see a city such as Calgary unable to support professional baseball.

  6. Absolute Baseball certainly does know quite well the comings and goings and finances of The Vipers. Mr Gidney’s son runs absolute Baseball but is absolutely no help with contacts or information on how to collect money the Vipers owe me. He has a habit of saying he has no connection at all. He is flat out lying.

  7. Al says:

    Looks like Foothills Stadium will be torn down… guess if Calgary wants pro baseball a new baseball stadium would have to be built, which could be a good things.

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