Trevor Clarke bullish about base­ball

Car­bon­ear na­tive to play for host team at 2014 na­tion­als in St. John’s next month

The Compass - - SPORTS - BY NI­CHOLAS MERCER nmercer@cb­n­com­pass.ca

With the 2014 Se­nior Men’s Base­ball Cham­pi­onships in St. John’s just seven weeks away, Car­bon­ear na­tive Trevor Clarke ac­knowl­edged last week the ex­cite­ment level is start­ing to build.

The tour­na­ment will bring to­gether the finest se­nior men’s talent from across the coun­try on Aug. 21-25, mark­ing the first time since 1997 that the na­tion­als have been staged in this prov­ince.

The 30-year-old is the ev­ery­day short­stop with the Trap­per John’s Sham­rocks in the St. John’s se­nior cir­cuit and a mem­ber of the St. John’s Cap­i­tals se­nior men’s squad for the last decade.

He said there is a dif­fer­ent feel­ing this sea­son as the Cap­i­tals pre­pare to wel­come the na­tion. “There’s an ex­cite­ment,” said Clarke. The Cap­i­tals are one of two lo­cal en­tries in the 10-team na­tional tour­na­ment. Cor­ner Brook is the other.

The Barons cap­tured the provin­cial se­nior base­ball crown last sum­mer, earn­ing them the right to rep­re­sent New­found­land and Labrador in this year’s tour­na­ment.

Clarke is bank­ing on this tour­na­ment be­ing a bit dif­fer­ent then the ’97 ver­sion.

“There were four teams that pulled out at the last minute,” he said. “It ended up hav­ing two teams from New­found­land, two teams from Nova Sco­tia and two teams from New Brunswick. It was more like an At­lantic tour­na­ment.”

How­ever, there is a buzz about com­ing to this side of the coun­try.

“We’ve been go­ing to these tour­na­ments on the main­land for the past 13 years straight, and ev­ery­one is look­ing for­ward to com­ing out east for a good time,” said Clarke.

Ball­park facelift

Ahead of the tour­na­ment, the ven­er­a­ble St. Pat’s Park in St. John’s is get­ting a sub­stan­tial makeover.

St. Pat’s is one of the two fields in the metro re­gion be­ing used for the tour­na­ment. The other is the Small­wood Drive ball­field lo­cated at the Team Gushue Sports Com­plex in Mount Pearl.

Work is be­ing com­pleted to up­grade the bleachers, along with the club­house and score box, as well as a new score­board, work on the drainage sys­tem, the sprin­kler sys­tem, new lights and a new clay in­field.

“I’ve been down tak­ing a peek ev­ery now and then and it’s look­ing good,” said Clarke.

Be­ing a short­stop, Clarke is most look­ing for­ward to get­ting some prac­tice on the new in­field.

“I’m the lead­off hit­ter and I play in the mid­dle in­field. I’m kind of re­lied on to get on base and steal an odd base … and I’ll tell you, from years and years of do­ing it down at St. Pat’s on that old gravel, it’s re­ally taken its toll on the body,” he said. “I’m re­ally look­ing for­ward to it.”

Grass­roots in­flu­ence

In Canada, base­ball tends to go as the Toronto Blue Jays go. If Canada’s ma­jor league team is suc­cess­ful, more chil­dren start to pick up the game.

Reg­is­tra­tion num­bers are steady in mi­nor base­ball pro­grams across the prov­ince, in­clud­ing lo­cally with Base­ball CBN, al­though some feel the num­bers could be higher.

The hope is a tour­na­ment like the se­nior men’s na­tion­als will help pro­vide the ex­po­sure the game needs in a prov­ince where other sports — soc­cer be­ing the best ex­am­ple, have seen a surge in pop­u­lar­ity.

“I be­lieve it will do won­ders for the grass­roots pro­grams in­side St. John’s and out­side St. John’s,” said Clarke.

“I think the closer we get to (the tour­na­ment), the more in­ter­est it will gen­er­ate,” he added.

Photo by Keith Gosse/TC Me­dia

Car­bon­ear na­tive Trevor Clarke makes a play dur­ing last sum­mers provin­cial men’s se­nior base­ball fi­nal against the Cor­ner Brook Barons at St. Pat’s Field in St. John’s. Clarke, and the St. John’s Cap­i­tals, are pre­par­ing for the 2014 Se­nior Men’s Base­ball Cham­pi­onship be­ing held in St. John’s Aug. 21-25.

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