If there is a professional sport in our world which uses numbers more than baseball then I don’t know it exists.
The pros have numbers being tracked for everything like number pitches, when certain pitches are thrown, who those pitches are tossed to and on and on.
Batters are tracked as to where they hit specific pitches, when they tend to steal bases, their bunt percentages and again the list is even deeper than that.
So while Red Deer Minor Baseball doesn’t use numbers to such depth there is a number which they pay attention to each year; how many kids are playing baseball in the city.
“I think five years ago when I started on the board I think our registration numbers were 340,” said Randy Gehring, Director of Baseball Operations for Red Deer minor Baseball.”Last year we were up over 650 and this year we’re projecting we’re going to be between 900 and 1000. Again, that might change a little bit when the rec numbers come in but that would make us the largest association in Alberta.”
So what is behind the large turnout in numbers for baseball in Red Deer? Gehring says some of it has to do with the Blue Jays playing well, (last year at least) and people are starting to like the idea of having something different to do in the summer.
“From my own viewpoint, I think we’re starting to see a lot of guys who typically were playing spring hockey and even as they get older, the hockey players are starting to get into baseball.”
Gehring says the long-term athlete development plan is fully supportive of young athletes playing more than one sport and through his work with Hockey Alberta he is a backer of that idea.
“I firmly believe that guys who do one sport and those muscle groups are worked the whole year it taxes their bodies, it causes a lot of problems that can be taken care of by getting away from that sport and going and doing something else.”
With the growing interest in the sport Gehring says the chances of forming a baseball academy, similar to the dominant organization in Okotoks is a stronger possibility now than say a few years ago. The idea is to allow local players who want to excel at the sport to work on their skills during winter and keep them from heading out of the region to play baseball.
With such a large turnout at so many levels Gehring says baseball is healthy in Red Deer at this time but along with the growth there are issues to deal with as an organization such as getting more coaches, getting umpires to work the games and the number of diamonds available in the city as well as the number of diamonds in the city.
“We’ve taken a lot of steps to improve our facilities and get more facilities over the last few years and the city has been working with us to make that happen. It’s going in the right direction, maybe not as quick as I would like,” he said.
So the numbers add up and now it’s time to play ball!