In a series of interviews, Apt613 contributor and local sports fan Kiersten Vuorimaki speaks with the Ottawa Champions, Ottawa’s CanAm baseball team, as a way to introduce the team to Ottawa, and Ottawa to the team.
When rumblings began 6 years ago about bringing a CanAm baseball team to Ottawa, Sebastien Boucher was playing for the Quebec Capitales, under current Champions owner Miles Wolfe. “When they brought up Ottawa, my hometown, my first question was ‘When you bring a team there, I’m coming with, right?’” He had already decided to retire from Quebec after 2014, so his decision was whether to come home in 2015 as a player, a coach, or a combination of both. Boucher has now been doing double duty as the Champions hitting coach and outfield slugger for four seasons. 2018 is Boucher’s 10th season in the league, and he holds the most career batting records of any player in CanAm history. He holds all time records in hits, runs, walks, and RBIs with an independent career batting average of .311.
“When they brought up Ottawa, my hometown, my first question was ‘When you bring a team there, I’m coming with, right?’”
Originally drafted by the Seattle Mariners in the 7th Round (213th overall) in 2004, Boucher played 4 seasons of affiliated baseball. He rose to the AAA level and was traded to the Baltimore Orioles in 2007. After being released by the Orioles in 2008, Sebastien returned to Canada to further his career in independent baseball, settling in Quebec with his eye on a future in managing.
The Canadian national team came calling in 2006, and Boucher was selected to play in the World Baseball Classic against some of the greatest players in professional baseball.
Sebastien grew up in the Overbrook neighourhood within earshot of RCGT Park and can remember attending games there, falling in love with the sport. His role as batting coach requires a thorough understanding of the styles and struggles of his teammates as well as the challenging mental aspects of the game. Baseball is an intensely intellectual game and Boucher’s experience and acuity at the plate make him an invaluable asset to the Champions dugout.
The interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Apt613: Who was your favourite player growing up?
Sebastien Boucher: Ken Griffey Jr. He was a centre fielder, left handed hitter just like me. I just loved his style back in the day, you know, he hit BP with his hat backwards, and killed the home run derbys He was just an exciting player to watch.
What is your favourite MLB team?
It would have to be the Blue Jays, right?. The Blue Jays are the only Canadian team. You have to go with the team that’s closest to you, and for me, that’s the Jays.
Who is your favourite current Blue Jay then?
It’s tough, but I’ll say Russell Martin, ‘cause I know him personally too. So I’ll go with the guy I know.
Who is the best player you’ve played with?
I think he’s the best player in baseball right now, Joey Votto. I got to play with him on the National team, he’s just a great hitter and I really admire him.
Who is the best player you’ve played against?
Ken Griffey Jr. I got to play against him, again, with the national team. He played for Team USA, and I played for Team Canada so I got to play against him. I was just in awe the whole game.
Did you get to actually meet him?
I did, I shook his hand, he told me “You guys are going to lose tonight.”
If you weren’t playing baseball professionally, what would you be doing?
I’m not sure, I guess it would be computers. I went to school for computer engineering- I didn’t finish because baseball was a priority. Technology is something that really interests me, so it would be something in tech.
What is your pre game meal?
It kind of goes in phases. Right now I’m in a phase of grilled cheese. We have a Foreman grill that we’ve been using really well, so I’ve been making some grilled cheese and chocolate milk.
What is your walk up song?
“Out for you” by Colyer.
Which is your favourite road trip city in the CanAm League?
Quebec City. The atmosphere there is by far the best, you have a small stadium and everyone is on top of you. They put us up in a great spot in downtown Quebec as well, so the guys get to really enjoy the city.
Who has the best style on the team?
You know, I’m going to say myself.
What’s your drink in the clubhouse after a win?
What is your favourite sports movie?
My favourite baseball movie is Bull Durham.
What is your favourite thing to do in Ottawa on an off day?
Spending time with my kids. We have a pass for the national museums, so we like to go to Science and Tech which just reopened, that one is amazing! We go there quite a bit, they did such a great job with the renovations.
As the local expert, where do you tell the new guys they need to go in Ottawa?
I direct them to the ByWard Market. Tell them to check out the restaurants there, and whatever else they can find. The spirit of Ottawa is a little bit everywhere, right? Every weekend you can catch something, a festival, or something happening, so they just have to go find it.
The Ottawa Champions play home games at Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton Park (300 Coventry Road) directly off the 417 with access to the Max Keeping pedestrian bridge. Tickets are $14 for adults, $11 for seniors and students, and $5 for youth. Parking is $5, making it the most affordable professional sports event in town. For more, follow @ottawachampions on Twitter, Snapchat, Facebook and Instagram.