Weyburn Beavers unveil big plans for 2018

By Greg Nikkel

The Weyburn Senior Beavers ball club had a strong year in 2017, supporters and volunteers heard at the Beavers annual meeting on Monday evening. The team unveiled some major announcements for the coming year, including a sports dinner with Major League Baseball stars, and plans for new ball diamonds to come at Clark Park.

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The club executive will remain largely the same, with one new name. Garnet Hansen remains as the president, Jordan Szczecinski is the vice-president, Ken Evans is the treasurer, and new to the executive is Peggy Gaab as the secretary. Phil and Cory Curtis will return as the coaches, and will be joined by two former Beavers as assistants, Scott Beever and Andrew Urbistando.

Hansen announced the Beavers will hold a sports dinner on Friday, May 25, with Toronto Blue Jays alumni Roberto Alomar and Jesse Barfield to be the guest speakers.

A special feature of their visit to Weyburn will be a ball clinic with the two MLB stars on Saturday, May 26, for ball players from the mosquito to bantam age levels. The clinic will run from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. at Tom Laing Park, and the cost will be $40 per person.

The sports dinner will be held at the Weyburn Legion Hall, and the cost is $85 person or $650 for a table of eight. Tickets are available on Weyburn Beavers Facebook page, or by emailing to weyburnbeaverswmbl@gmail.com.

In the financial report for the past year, Hansen noted that the club made a total of $3,096 on the year, with revenues totaling $157,273, and expenses totaling $154,177.

“As an organization, we made a concerted effort to improve the game experience,” he said, with the goal to have more people in the stands buying tickets, beer, 50-50 tickets and merchandise, and supporting the ball team.

In terms of the coming year, he noted this will be one of the strongest years ever for returning players, with the roster mostly set since about Christmas time.

“Having guys who want to come back to play says a lot about our success,” said Hansen.

The schedule was set with 24 home games and 24 away games, said Hansen, with the main problem being a last-minute change in dates by the Weyburn Ag Society for the Fair and Rodeo, after the league schedule was already set. The Fair is now going to be on July 5-7 with the rodeo, and a change in dates coming recently.

Some of the dates to watch for this season include the season-opener in Swift Current on Thursday, May 31, and the home-opener games on Friday and Saturday, June 1-2. There will be a Chamber of Commerce night on June 13, a pancake breakfast on June 24, a ladies night on July 12, and fan appreciation night on July 28.

As this last date coincides with a Rider game, they are planning a 1 p.m. start time to encourage fans to come to see the game before heading up for the Riders game.

An upcoming fundraiser for the Beavers will be a Texas Hold’em tournament on Friday, April 13 and Saturday, July 14. Volunteers will be needed as dealers, and no experience is needed to help out.

Baseball learn-to-play and rally-cap clinics for kids will be held again this season, said Hansen, noting they had good feedback on the clinics held last year. The challenge has been getting older players involved, and there are ideas to have a clinic for older players separately than one for the younger players. “We want to work with the minor ball coaches. It’s free, and we’ll set up a system so we’ll have an idea how many kids can come. I think it’s a tremendous opportunity for these kids to hang out with college-age ball players,” said Hansen.

The meeting heard from Tyson Balog, who has drawn up detailed plans for developing new ball diamonds at Clark Park. “I’ve had this vision in my head for a long time, even when I was a kid,” said Balog, noting Minor Ball ran short of diamonds last year, with one of the highest enrolments ever for ball as about 470 kids signed up to play ball.

A set of blueprints for future ball diamond development was unveiled, which had the okay of the City.

“My plan is to have two upgraded diamonds for playing by 2021, so we need to get on it and be aggressive, and get the community to be a part of this,” said Balog, with the hope to make the bigger diamond large enough for bantam-aged teams and younger. The second phase will see another two ball diamonds developed, with the second one to be midget-sized for fastball. The plans call for dressing rooms and a concession building to be set up, “and as we get more funding in, we’ll put in more dressing rooms.”

Two more diamonds are planned for phase 3, and for phase 4, they will review the situation to see what the needs are, said Balog.

The ultimate goal is to have the biggest field replace Tom Laing Park as the home of the Beavers, but as Hansen noted, this is far in the future at this point.

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