Georgian College golfers among Canada’s elite
In came the calls, always from a blocked number.
Paul Spoljaric, the former Blue Jays pitcher and Olympian, could only sigh and answer his phone.
“Are you ready, kid? Are you good to go?”
It was Jack Dominico, owner of the Intercounty Baseball League’s Toronto Maple Leafs, on the line, wanting to know if Spoljaric, the lefty from Kelowna, B.C., who’d just wrapped up a six-year MLB career, was prepared for his weekly start at the field named after the team owner and his late wife, Lynne: Dominico Field at Christie Pits.
“‘Jack, this ain’t my first rodeo’,” Spoljaric remembers of his response to those ceaseless calls upon arriving on the IBL scene with the Leafs in the early 2000s. “‘Stop calling me. You’re starting to piss me off. I know how to get ready for a game, don’t worry about that’.”
Indeed, Spoljaric did just fine, leading the Leafs to two of the franchise’s eight championships over a dominant half-dozen seasons as the team’s ace.
When Spoljaric did have the occasional rocky outing on the mound, though, he’d inevitably hear from the team owner.
“He’d call me if I had a rough start and he’d say, ‘Oh, you really sucked last night’,” recalled Spoljaric, who later signed with the rival Barrie Baycats to be closer to his Lislearea home. “‘OK, Jack. It’s baseball. Maybe I sucked, maybe they were better than me. I don’t know.’”
Those colourful conversations, in a nutshell, as anyone who has ever crossed paths with the face of Maple Leafs baseball will attest, can be boiled down to a trio of words that are perhaps the only way to accurately describe the baseball lifer’s truly unique personality: “Jack being Jack.”
Personality must be the key to longevity. How else does one explain the same man owning the same sports franchise for 50 seasons, a milestone the 78-year-old Dominico will hit when the new season kicks off next spring. Fifty years. We searched high and low for a sports team owner at the professional or amateur level, in the U.S. or in Canada, whose tenure at the helm has lasted 50 years, coming up empty and crossing off George Steinbrenner, Gene Mauch, Al Davis, Jerry Buss, Ed Snider and IBL counterpart Arden Eddie of the London Majors fame along the way.
For perspective, the IBL, an independent league with teams throughout southern Ontario comprising a mix of college players and former pros such as Spoljaric, Fergie Jenkins and Pete Orr, will mark 100 years of existence in 2019.
Dominico has owned his team for exactly half that century.
And from time to time, he’ll raise his voice at you.
“He’ll call up — and Jack and I have got, I’d describe it as a wonderful relationship — but it’s not unusual for Jack to scream at me, tell me I should be fired; tell me I should get out of baseball for all eternity, no idea why we hired you in the first place, and just say the most awful things to you,” said IBL commissioner John Kastner, who has known Dominico since his season playing for the Stratford Hillers in 1979, throughout his lengthy career as the sports editor with the Stratford BeaconHerald and the past few years as commissioner.
See |B2 (STAFF) - The Georgian Grizzlies men’s and women’s golf teams were featured prominently in the initial Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) rankings for the 2017 season. Georgian’s women’s team was ranked first in the rankings and is coming off a season where they won gold at the 2016 CCAA Ping national championships. Two of the team members from that championship are returning in Barrie native Addison Wallwin and Montreal’s Emilie Tyndall. Wallwin won the individual gold medal at nationals a year ago. The men’s team is ranked fourth in the nation and earned a silver medal at the Ontario Colleges Athletic Association (OCAA) championship last year. Returning veteran Matt Lemay (Waterloo) earned the individual bronze medal at the national championship the last two consecutive seasons. The men’s and women’s golf teams will play in their first tournament of the season Saturday at the Fanshawe Invitational in London. Georgian will host its own invitational tournament next Thursday at the Heritage Hills Golf Club in Barrie. See | B2
Barrie native Addison Wallwin