Zip Entrepreneurs Buy Ottawa Rapidz
Baseball is back in Ottawa, and with hometown backing. Local sports fans Rick Anderson and Rob Hall have purchased the brand new Ottawa Rapidz of the Can-Am Association of Professional Baseball.
Completion of negotiations to add local ownership to the brand new team was disclosed at a media conference today at Ottawa Stadium by Can-Am League Commissioner Miles Wolff, along with Anderson and Hall. Ottawa Rapidz Field Manager Ed Nottle, General Manager Don Charrette, and Pitching Coach Mike Kusiewicz provided details about the new team's blossoming roster and plans.
"The Can-Am League's fan-oriented, community-minded approach to baseball is key to reigniting baseball success in Ottawa," said Rick Anderson, CEO of Ottawa-based Zip.ca, Canada's largest online video service, and CEO of Rapidz Sports and Entertainment. "Can-Am's professional players offer fans a rare opportunity to enjoy quality baseball at affordable prices. These players and managers are passionate about baseball, and they come not for the trapping of modern pro sports, but for the love of the game. Can-Am teams and players are grounded with their fans and communities, because the league emphasizes the classic baseball traditions of a relaxed family environment, quality play, stable player rosters, and affordable prices. This is a winning approach, for Ottawa baseball fans and for Ottawa as a whole."
"It's great to see Ottawa fans and local businesses getting behind the new team," said Can-Am Commissioner Miles Wolff. "We're pleased to have community-oriented entrepreneurs such as Rick Anderson and Rob Hall stepping up to the plate to assume ownership of the Rapidz."
"Ottawa fans have a terrific romance with baseball, going back to the 1890s," said Wolff. "In the 1930s, Canada's capital was home to a Can-Am League, and has been home to baseball championship teams and baseball legends. We're delighted to have such a great baseball city join our league."
Baseball history buffs know that Ottawa's rich baseball history includes not just the modern-era Rapidz and Lynx, but in earlier decades teams such as the Nationals, Athletics, Braves and even Senators. Frank "Shag" Shaughnessy managed baseball's Ottawa Senators to three-peat championships of the Canadian League in 1913-15, going on to become GM of the Montreal Royals and coach the Detroit Tigers. (The Senators also won the 1912 championship under the management of Louis Cook.)
Ottawa pitcher Urban Shocker (born Urbain Jacques Shockor) played for the Senators and led the American League in wins (27 in 1921), in saves (5 in 1920) and strikeouts (149 in 1922). Shocker went on to win a World Series with the 1927 New York Yankees.
Jean Dubuc managed the 1924 Ottawa-Hull Senators in the Quebec-Ontario-Vermont League; Dubuc had pitched for the 1918 Series-winning Boston Red Sox, the year before Babe Ruth was traded and the Curse began.
Ottawa Senators Manager Wally Schang played on that same Red Sox championship team - and proceeded to win another World Series with Ruth and the New York Yankees in 1923 (the Yankees' very first). Schang played for three World Series Championship winning teams and still holds American League records for the most runners caught (with 6 on May 12, 1915) and most assists by a catcher in a single game (with 8 on May 12, 1920.)
Ottawa pitcher/manager Walter Masters was a multi-sport sensation who played professional football (Philadelphia, Chicago, Pittsburgh) and baseball (Washington Senators, Philadelphia Phillies, and Philadelphia Athletics under the legendary Connie Mack) - and played for and coached the Ottawa Rough Riders. In 1947, at the age of 40, Masters pitched for the Ottawa Nationals of the Border Baseball League and went 11-4 with a 3.22 ERA. Two of Masters' wins came when he famously pitched (and won) both ends of a doubleheader. Teammate Daffy Dean, brother of Dizzy, managed the Nationals that year.
Montreal Canadiens' Hockey Hall of Famer Doug Harvey was also an Ottawa Nationals baseball star: in 1949, Harvey led the Border League in batting average (.351), runs (121) and RBIs (109)... while also stealing 30 bases and hitting 4 homeruns.
"We're excited to be part of rebuilding the baseball tradition in Ottawa," said Rob Hall, Chairman of Zip.ca and founder and CEO of the Momentous family of online businesses. "We believe Ottawans will welcome the new Ottawa Rapidz into the storied pantheon of Ottawa sports. Ours is a terrific community, one of the best, and we have one of the best ballparks as well, plus one of the longest and richest baseball traditions. We are fortunate to now be joining one of North America's best independent leagues".
Minor league pro baseball is a great way to enjoy the game of baseball, with over 41 million fans last year, outdrawing both the NBA and the NFL. Independent leagues such as the Can-Am League are well-loved in their communities due to their emphasis on the game, with professional quality and fan-friendly prices.
The inaugural Ottawa Rapidz season opens at Ottawa Stadium on Thursday, May 22. The new Ottawa Rapidz will play a pre-season opener against their Quebec Capitales rivals on May 18. Prior to that, the Rapidz will hold an Open Tryout day on May 8, and Spring Training from May 10 - 20. The Open Tryout and Spring Training are open to baseball fans, with free admission.
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