Squamish, B.C., Canada
Nestled into the aptly named Squamish Valley lies the town of Squamish, British Columbia. A population of about 18,000 people – almost all of them rabid baseball fans. Today, for the first time ever, they have a team to cheer for that isn't all the way across the country playing in a major league – it's right in their backyard, playing in the WBL's affiliated D-League (akin to other organizations' A leagues).
The Squamish Thunder Pigs make their professional baseball debut tonight at the newly built Sea to Sky Stadium, named for the tremendous Sea to Sky Highway that runs adjacent. The stadium seats roughly 15,000 fans and despite not having all of the amenities, has a very traditional ballpark feel. The stadium combined with the amazingly short period of time in which the purchase and construction of the franchise occurred has the locals in Canada's baseball hotbed of British Columbia buzzing.
“I can't wait!” said Tom Farkas, a Squamish native. “I'm such a huge ball fan, and to be able to go and see some of the future WBL All-Stars at the start of their careers is just special.”
Future All-Stars? Perhaps. The Thunder Pigs roster is certainly unconventional and boasts a long list of high risk, high ceiling players from all corners of the world. General Manager Charlie Donovan was confident in the squad he's put together when prompted at the Thunder Pigs inaugural press conference earlier this afternoon. “I think you all are going to be pleasantly surprised by what we've put together here. These kids are gamers and they're all very excited. Spring training was a revelation.”
Notable signees for the Thunder Pigs are numerous. Perhaps their biggest addition was their closer, H. Wilhelm, a crafty pitcher who managed 22 saves last season, striking out 27 and allowing just 6 walks for the Up and Comers. Now wearing the blue and yellow of the Pigs, Wilhelm was beaming ear to ear at the press conference. Alden Zamora was another notable grab for the Pigs. Zamora was incredible last season posting a 1.92 ERA and a sparkling 0.96 WHIP.
Moseph Johnson may be the most intriguing signing of all. A late signee last season, Moseph ended up bouncing between three different teams yet never made a single appearance behind the plate – all were as the designated hitter. Many suspect Moseph's reputation for being hard on pitchers as the reason why, but Charlie Donovan has a different theory. “I think he was too smart for those managers. It's that simple. When you talk to Moseph one on one, the thing that hits you immediately is how bright this kid is. I can tell you from my long experience in baseball, I have never seen an 18 year-old spend so much time in the film room. He's a student of the game in the truest sense of the word.” WBL experts suspect Moseph was brought in to get ace starting pitcher Anton Schlotkin into shape so he can realize his vast potential. Schlotkin experienced mixed results last season, but there's plenty of trends in his stats to suspect an upturn this year. Moseph will make sure of that.
The rest of the Thunder Pigs roster is just as interesting and features a converted Sri Lankan cricket player, a 6'7” Japanese hurler, two absolute mashers at the heart of the batting order in Bugsy Hopkins and Paul Kerins, and one of the best offensive second basemen nobody heard about last season in Oldie Olson, who could be poised for a breakout season. Hitting leadoff will be strong defensive short stop Henry Skrimshander, who should swipe some bags for the Pigs. Donovan hinted that the DH role will be platooned by Bobby Scherbatsky and Miles Walker, both outfielders.
The mountain air is electric in Squamish indeed. The Thunder Pigs are hoping to have an explosive debut in their opening series with the Raccoon City Deadly Bioterrorists tonight. Catch it live on Local 4 in Squamish.