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.