The Western Canadian Baseball League is stepping up to the plate for their 2021 season.
After losing last season to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, plans to move forward this a summer with a full regular season schedule have been confirmed. The league made the announcement earlier this week and officially unveiled its regular season schedule on Monday (June 7).
“We are so excited to be taking this next step in bringing baseball back to our fans,” said Kevin Kvame WCBL president. “Our governors have been working around the clock to get the schedule put together.”
With the recent news of the Alberta government’s re-opening plans, opening day is now set for June 18. The season debut will see the Lethbridge Bulls host the Okotoks Dawgs Black and the Edmonton Prospects will take on the expansion team, Sylvan Lake Gulls.
Fans in Spruce Grove and the Edmonton region will be able to see Prospects games at ballparks in Spruce Grove and Sherwood Park this summer, as the team builds its new facility in Spruce Grove to be ready for the 2022 season. The first game in Spruce Grove is slated for June 23 at Henry Singer Ball Park. A handful of the Prospects home games will also be played in Lethbridge, Okotoks and Sylvan Lake.
“While we’re starting the season with a limited number of fans, as per the guidance of health officials, we’re hopeful to increase capacity as the season progresses,” said Kvame. “We’ll be exercising diligence throughout the summer to adhere to all provincial guidelines as they change and are adopted.
For the first time in Western Canadian Baseball League history, all players this year will be from Canada.
After ongoing discussions and a meeting at the end of March, governors agreed this move would be an opportunity to showcase how much the game has grown and developed in training top-notch baseball players and students in Canada. The league also announced that non-Canadian players that had been recruited have been informed that it is unlikely that border issues will be resolved in time for the 2021 season, and have allowed those players to seek playing opportunities elsewhere.
“While we’re extremely disappointed that we won’t be seeing US and other foreign players as we would in a normal season, we are confident that the quality of Canadian athletes who play this great game at an extremely-high, competitive level will perform for their respective teams,” said Kvame.
The league has also announced that the 2021 season will not feature all eleven of its member franchises. The Okotoks Dawgs (Teams Black and Red) the Lethbridge Bulls, Sylvan Lake Gulls and Edmonton Prospects have committed teams consisting of Canadian talent. However, due to the COVID-19 restrictions, border issues and the uncertainty of any changes, the Swift Current 57’s, Regina Red Sox, Weyburn Beavers, Moose Jaw Miller Express and Brooks Bombers have made a decision to wait until 2022 to return to the field.
The WCBL regular season will end on August 15, with the semi-finals slated for August 16 to 18. The league championship will be held August 20 to 22. Details on protocols and seating will be announced by each team as opening day approaches.
“We’re just excited to get back on the field and provide a great summer of baseball for our talented Canadian players,” said Kvame. “We’re also excited for our fans, who we applaud for standing by us as we’ve been planning this season.”
The WCBL also has several marquee matchups for important dates, including Father’s Day, Canada Day, and the August long weekend.
For game schedules or more information visit www.westerncanadianbaseballleague.ca