The Ottawa Champions have hit the halfway mark of their 2017 season, and things are heating up! Currently in the midst of their hottest streak all season, the boys in blue and red are setting the stage for the Can-Am/American Association All Star Game festivities July 24 and 25 at RCGT Park. This is the first time that Ottawa has hosted a professional baseball all star game, and the official Ottawa 2017 event will play host to players, families, and fans from Texas, Winnipeg, Quebec, New York, and the American mid-west. Most importantly, Ottawa Champions fans will get to see some All Star baseball at home, and support four of our own players invited to be All Stars. Champion’s Manager Hal Lanier will be the skipper for the CanAm Team.
The skills competition on Monday July 24 starts at 7pm and features fielding skills of the players from both leagues. At 8pm, the classic Home Run Derby starts so if you’re driving along Coventry Road, watch yourself! Tickets are $10 for adults. Gates open at 6pm. The All Star Game starts at 7:05 on Tuesday July 25 after a ceremony commemorating the contributions of Jim Durrell to baseball in Ottawa. Gates open at 5:30pm, and since tickets at RCGT Park don’t come with an assigned seat, get there early to make sure you get your Kichesippi beer, your poutine, and your lucky seat! If you are one of the first 2017 fans to buy your All Star Game commemorative tickets, you get a free pair of limited edition Canada 150 socks and a donation will be made to the Ottawa Champions Foundation. There are also limited edition All Star baseball cards to collect for the first 1500 tickets sold, so if the kid in you still needs to collect them all, this is your chance.
Ottawa’s Philippe Aumont has been announced as the starting pitcher for the Can-Am squad, and will face off against Mark Hamburger, another former major leaguer with a majorly great name. The teams seem evenly matched, but the Champions have sent some of their best to represent our defending championship squad.
This will be Daniel Cordero’s second trip to the All Star Game. The Venezuelan pitcher is a smooth criminal on the mound, working quickly and accurately. With an ERA of 3.39 and a win/loss of 6/3, he is one of Lanier’s not-so-secret weapons. On a team that relies heavily on exceptional pitching, Cordero holds his own with the big sluggers. He did well last year in St. Paul, allowing no hits and no walks so we can fully expect him to put in another shutdown inning.
Philippe Aumont is a former major leaguer from Quebec who has also stepped up as the Champions pitching coach. The 6’7” right hander throws absolute fireballs. Blink, and you will miss it. Most batters do. Drafted 11th overall in 2007 by the Mariners, Aumont has represented Canada at the Pan Am games and played affiliated ball until last summer. His ERA is 4.52 on 51.2 innings pitched. Most impressively to this baseball fan was his effortless no-hitter on June 28, the first in franchise history. Trust me: seeing him throw will make your glove hand hurt.
Catcher Danny Grauer is in his second full season with the Champions. He is is currently batting .311 and leading the team in home runs with 6. He is a strong and focussed presence behind the plate and can throw one helluva laser to second base, making him a force to be reckoned with for runners looking to steal. Over the past two seasons, Grauer has made a reputation for himself as a clutch hitter so we are hoping to see him in the homerun derby for some extended #grauerpower.
Outfielder Sebastien Boucher was a late addition to the All Star Game, which just means that the selection committee clearly saw the error of their ways in excluding him. Boucher is the hometown hero, the face of the team who currently holds Can Am career records for hits, RBIs, and walks. The man can play. Boucher is also the Champions hitting coach and when he is not at bat, you can see him going over swings and strategies with the other players in the dugout. He somehow always manages to get on base when we need it most and would be an excellent bat to have in the derby.
This is going to be an amazing couple of days, so bring everyone you know and root for some of the best players in independent baseball. Let’s head to the Clocktower to celebrate a Can-Am win into the wee hours and, maybe consider calling in sick on Wednesday.
Catch the All Star Game events July 24 and 25 at RCGT Park, located at 300 Coventry Road, directly off the 417 with access to the Max Keeping pedestrian bridge and transit way. Skills Competition tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for youth. All Star Game Tickets are $18 for adults, $15 for seniors and $5 for youth. Parking is $5. For more, follow the Champions on Twitter, Snapchat or Instagram @ottawachampions.