Did you catch yesterday’s start of the Brad Norris-Jones top 10 list? A top 12, as is came to be? If not, you can go back and read part 1 here.
We left Brad after number six with five more top moments to recount for us. Without further ado, here they are counting down to number 1…
5. Hosting the 2013 All-Star game in Victoria (July 23, 2013)
The first announcement the HarbourCats make upon starting their inaugural season is that oh yeah, as well as starting baseball in Victoria, establishing a brand, and getting over all of the opening-season issues, we’ll be hosting the 2013 All-Star game at Royal Athletic. Incredible, Victoria sets the record for attendance at an All-Star game at 4,210 fans and the city comes to party. The South wins the game 7-5, but Victoria wins the day.
“For this city, when we brought the All-Star game here, it was a true fan fest. It was a party. We had five players in that game, and we put a hell of a game on. It was better than opening night, we just killed it”. “We had tons of scouts, tons of league people. That game, and opening night, proved to the city that baseball can be fun at this park”
4. 2016’s pennant-winning first half (2016)
Finishing with a 23-4 record, the HarbourCats clinch the first-half title on June 30th setting league records with their 19th win in a row – all after losing the first three games of the season!
“Forty wins in a year may be broken one day, but 23 and 4 – and the 19 game win streak will never be broken again. Things just happened in that streak where we won games, games where were down in the ninth that we maybe shouldn’t have won but did. And if you remember the 20th game we lost [on Canada Day], Cody Snider hit a ball off the top of the wall in right field in the 7th inning that would have tied that game, but it stayed in the park. For me and for the coaching staff, it showed the league that we were the real deal. Not just this year, but every year. Sometimes because you’re Canadian, you don’t get the same props as the other teams, but that showed we were the real deal”.
3. Gabe Clark goes AWOL – well actually, he gets left on the BC Ferry (Aug 4 2014)
You know how sometimes you hear announcements about people leaving cell phones of wallets on the ferry? How about leaving your home-run king asleep under a row of seats on your start of a road-trip?
“I phoned Kelly thinking the team would be in Walla Walla already, and he told me no, they were late because they lost Gabe. Gabe had fallen asleep in the upstairs seats, and nobody noticed he was missing. So he had to take a cab from the ferry to the border. Now looking back, it’s hilarious, but at the time it wasn’t funny. I phoned [then GM Jim] Swanson and told him we lost Gabe, and he says ‘What do you mean we lost Gabe!!'”
2. Kelly Norris-Jones first home game as a HarbourCat (June 10/11 2014)
Talk about a proud poppa moment. Kelly pinch hit on June 10th in a 6-5 win against Cowlitz, but the best moment came the next night when Kelly put on the tools of ignorance and started behind the plate. 1,000 fans stood and cheered as the local boy made his start. One was cheering a little louder than the rest…
“Kelly played in Kelowna in 2011, but playing for Illinois, they like to keep their kids close, so we never saw him in the summers. Literally, we would see him for two weeks at Christmas, and three days when we would go down and see him. That was five long years of that. It was pretty special having your kid play for the team you work for after all the trials and tribulations of the past five years. Him coming home was his best moment as a player. That first game, because of all the buildup, was special for his whole family, not just me, but everyone”.
1. Claire Eccles signing Announcement (May 16,2017)
In what seems to almost be back-to-back proud papa moments, Claire is introduced to Victoria media and fans – and media around the globe – as the first female to play baseball at the college level in North America. So many hours and so much work went into this historic announcement, and thanks to Brad’s enormous efforts, we all get to have those moments with Claire this year.
“This is 100% number one. Because it was so progressive, and I stand by it right now, and I’ll stand by it forever. I’m so proud that I picked the right person in Claire. Anyone could pick a female to play, but I know I picked the right person. Her mindset, her ability, every single box has checked for her. Within a minute [of meeting her for the first time], I knew she was the right person, and within five minutes, we both said ‘lets do this’. This was in February and we held [the news]. I didn’t want anyone to know. I knew it was going to be big. I knew it would go across Canada, I thought maybe Sportsnet or TSN would pick it up. I had no idea she would be on the front page of MLB, ESPN, Sports Illustrated, LA Times, Washington Post, CNN. No shot I thought it would be that big…”
So there you have it, the top 12 moments from the GM of the HarbourCats. Any surprises in there? A couple for me – not on the moments themselves, but on the overall content. Apart from his son Kelly’s return to town, none of these are really about Brad. They are all about the success of his team, of his individual players. Nothing about him becoming GM, or being on Sportsnet, or sellout out stadiums, it’s all about the same thing we cheer for every day – The HarbourCats and the Players that wear the jerseys. The man is a fan of the game above anything else, and that folks is a sign this team is in good hands…