Author: Angelo Ciccia

In search of Mr. Baseball

We have seen several individuals stand out in our League over the years, whether through their talent, dedication, passion, sportsmanship, longevity, or any combination thereof. As we await the start of the 2021 season we will feature one individual who has demonstrated all the passion for the game in its purest form. Many have played with him while many more may have played against him.

Several League players can recognize Joe Forget, perhaps in part for his 6 foot 3 frame. In 2020, despite a Covid-shortened season, Joe managed to be in the lineup for 81 games in 102 days with various teams. In addition to those played with the Braves in the Lakeshore Senior Baseball League Joe was in the lineup with a few other teams in other leagues, including the Giants in the B Conference of West Island Senior Baseball. Going back to 2019 Joe played 100 games, and another 96 in 2018. An astounding 277 games in three seasons and about 1000 at bats for the friendly giant are almost unimaginable numbers for any recreational player.

Joe began playing in the LSBL with the Cubs in 2016 during their inaugural season in the Robinson Division, but also called up with the Smokestacks that same summer. The following year Joe moved up a division with the newly promoted Smokestacks, helping the former Robinson team become a contender in the Gilmore Division in 2018. That same season he was also a call-up for the top division Orioles which he joined eventually in 2019 as a regular roster player and enjoyed a Playoff Championship.

In 2020 Joe competed with the Braves, a team that jumped to the Clemente Division during the Covid summer and finished a strong second in the regular season while making the finals in the playoffs. Joe plays mostly catcher but can be seen at the hot corner in some games.

In his youth Joe began playing for the LaSalle Peewee Cards, but stopped after his 13th birthday to return only 11 years later in senior baseball. Talking baseball with Joe is like discussing food with a chef. Here are a few questions he was asked about the game:

Q: Do you have any baseball idols, current or past ?

A: Gary Carter for what he represented in Montreal, his smile, his passion, and his talent. Tony Gwynn for his meticulous analysis of pitchers, his game preparation, and his .394 batting avg in 1994. Pudge Rodriguez for his durability and longevity in the majors as a catcher. Cal Ripken for his record of 2632 games played. Ricky Henderson and Tim Raines for their speed and the show they would put on stealing bases.

Q: What is it you like so much about catching ?

A: It forces me to be 100% focused, while allowing me to control the pace of the game. I enjoy having a game plan to face opposing batters and calling pitches as part of the strategy.

Joe’s passion and dedication for the game is not only limited to playing but also in practising his skills, particularly as a catcher. Joe got to work almost as early as major leaguers when he put on his gear on February 28 despite a white blanket of packed snow still prevailing everywhere.

For all these things Joe, you are our prime candidate for the title of Mr Baseball !

Around the Parks – Pre-season 2021

The Lakeshore Senior Baseball League held its first ever virtual meeting on Saturday February 27 with 17 teams represented. Several managers who were unable to compete last year with their squad are now eager to rejoin the League and this bodes well for a return to a three division format in 2021. Will the teams that played in 2020 show any significant advantage over those that did not ? Some will say that playing the game of baseball is somewhat like riding a bike. Time will tell.

A few rule changes were discussed and debated, eventually leading to a near unanimous consensus to adopt the changes this season. Among these, the base stealing limit has been raised to a 10 run lead, but it will also come with an automatic out should a base-runner steal with at least a 10 run lead. Regular season games will have a limit of 3 hit batters by a pitcher before he/she is removed, but this rule will be lifted for all divisions in the playoffs. Call-up rules have also been enhanced to not only give teams more options in fielding a team, but also to promote intra-league cooperation.

At this point we are closely monitoring announcements from Quebec as well as municipal authorities to finalize a schedule for the season. Meanwhile we have been at work revamping the web site for a fresh new look in 2021. On another positive note, municipal maintenance crews appear to be planning their work on both fields, which should correct some of the issues we have seen in recent seasons.

Since mid-March ganders of geese (not the ones managed by Chandler) have been seen flying overhead returning from the South, and this certainly adds to the optimism of seeing an early spring.

Which prompted a few die-hard league players to gather in a parking lot to get some early practice.