Huntsville baseball season is around the corner!
It seems like just last week the Toronto Blue Jays were battling for the 2015 American League Championship, only to be derailed by the eventual World Series Champs from Kansas City. Executives from the Muskoka Hornets Baseball Association watched the play-offs as fans, but also as interested observers given the proven fact that the popularity of minor baseball in Canada is highly correlated to the on-field success of the Blue Jays. After all, the last time the Jays won the World Series in 1993, future MVPs from Canada by the names of Votto and Morneau were just ten or so years old. Both players will admit that they joined baseball in part based on the success and interest in the Jays in the late 80s and early 90s. With that in mind, the Muskoka Hornets’ executive are gearing up for an increase in enrolment and a great season.
Hornets looking to field three travelling teams
The Hornets expect to field three travel teams this summer, one for Mosquito (2005-2007 birth year), one for Peewee (2003-2004) and one for Minor Midget (2000). These teams are training indoors in preparation for a campaign that should net between 30 and 40 games and include two or three away tournaments along with hosting the Annual Muskoka Cup in July. This year will mark the eighth consecutive summer for the Hornets hosting the Muskoka Cup. Last year, over 35 teams travelled to Muskoka to participate in the tournament, which is now split over two weekends to accommodate an increase in participating teams. This year, the number of teams in attendance is expected to approach 50, which results in a healthy infusion of revenue for local businesses from baseball visitors to the region.
The Minor Midget team, made up mostly of players who have been together for at least six years, will once again play at the second highest level in Ontario, AA, and will visit Delaware in July for a tournament against top 15-16 year-old teams from the east coast of the United States. This is a big development year for the older Minor Midgets, as several players on this team continue to work hard towards the goal of carrying on baseball beyond the Hornets program and in to university potentially.
House League program
Important to the success of any minor sports franchise is a vibrant house league program. To that end, a couple years ago the Hornets took over day-to-day management of the Huntsville Minor Baseball program. Kids from the ages of three and up may enrol in the Hornets’ House League, with the youngest players learning the game in t-ball, while the older players enjoy the full hard ball game experience. This season will kick off with a Saturday skill development session on May 21 run by the professionals at Edge Baseball Training. The season continues each Wednesday until the beginning of August and ends with finals day and barbeque on Saturday August 6. Judging by the on-field product last year, 2016 should see a lot of great baseball action at McCulley Robertson diamonds each Wednesday.
New website, new look
Hornets’ management have been busy planning for the 2016 campaign which is expected to include a significant boost in enrolment. First order of business was to design and launch a new and improved website – www.hornetsbaseball.ca , which captures the spirit of the program along with offering an easy to use on-line player, coach and tournament registration platform. In addition, the Hornets changed the look of the competitive travel teams, adopting the retro style Pittsburgh Pirates jerseys worn by the Bantam rep team on last year’s trip to Kentucky.
Players interested in joining the Hornets program are encouraged to register via the Hornets’ website, www.hornetsbaseball.ca or at one of two in-person registration sessions at the Huntsville Summit Centre on Saturday March 12 and March 19 from 10 am to 1 pm. Also, the organization is in need of additional volunteers, either with or without baseball experience. Please contact Peter Haynes at 416-818-3036 if interested in learning more about coaching and administrative opportunities in the Hornets’ program.