Victoria HarbourCats

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Victoria HarbourCats
Information
League West Coast League (West)
Location Victoria, British Columbia
Ballpark Royal Athletic Park (capacity 2,867 baseball, expandable to 5,200)
Year founded 2012
Colours Navy blue, aqua blue, white
              
Mascot Harvey the HarbourCat
2017 Season 29-25
Defeated Kelowna 2-0 in North Division final. Lost in West Coast League Championship Series, 2-1
Ownership Shwing Batter Investment Group (Ken Swanson, Rich Harder, John Wilson, Jim Swanson)
Management Jim Swanson (Managing Partner), Brad Norris-Jones (GM)
Coach Brian McRae

The Victoria HarbourCats[1] is a summer-collegiate baseball team located in Victoria, British Columbia.[2] The HarbourCats play in the West Coast League (WCL), a collegiate summer baseball league. The team's home games are played at Victoria's Royal Athletic Park.[3]

The HarbourCats were founded in 2012 as an expansion team. On October 12, 2012, the team announced it would be called the HarbourCats after a public naming contest was held that received more than 600 submissions.[4]

History[edit]

2014[edit]

The Victoria Harbourcats went 25-29 in their 2nd season of play in the WCL. Victoria set the record for the most at-bats by a whole team having 1937 at bats in just one season. Victoria drew 45,571 fans through the gates in 30 home games, averaging about 1,576 fans a night. This put Victoria first in WCL attendance in the 2014 season.

2015[edit]

The Harbourcats went 29-24 in their 3rd season of play in the WCL. Victoria led the league with a team total of 36 home runs on the season. Victoria drew 49,647 fans through the gates in 26 home games, averaging 1,910 fans a night, a mark which led the West Coast League in attendance for the second straight season.

2016[edit]

The HarbourCats set a WCL record for wins in a single season, finishing with a 40-14 regular season mark. They won the WCL's North Division First Half Pennant with a 23-4 record, qualifying for the playoffs for the first time in franchise history, and the first time for a victoria-based baseball team since 1954. The pennant was clinched in Victoria on June 30 in front of a WCL-record crowd of 5,133. Between June 5 and July 1, the team won a WCL-record 19 consecutive games. Attendance increased for the fourth straight year to an average of 2,239 per game, which ranked ninth in North America among summer league clubs.

2017[edit]

The HarbourCats finished 29-25 and reached the playoffs for the second consecutive season, winning the WCL's North Division Second Half Pennant on the season's final day. They would go on to win the franchise's first-ever playoff game and series over the Kelowna Falcons, qualifying for their first-ever WCL Championship Series, where they would fall in three games to the Corvallis Knights.

Head Coaches[edit]

On September 4, 2012, the HarbourCats announced that Dennis Rogers and Bob Miller would be co-head coaches for the team's inaugural season.[5] Dennis Rogers is also the head coach of the Riverside City College baseball team and Bob Miller holds the same position at Cuesta College. Both coaches will returned for the 2014 season.[6]

Graig Merritt, a native of Maple Ridge, BC was named head coach of the HarbourCats for the 2015 season. A former draft pick of the LA Dodgers (1996, 1997), Merritt played collegiately at Chico State, where he won an NCAA Div. 2 National Championship in 1999. Under his leadership, the HarbourCats enjoyed their best season yet in 2015, finishing with a record of 29-24. This represented an increase of 5 wins over the team's previous high for wins in a season, and placed the HarbourCats second in the WCL's West Division, missing the playoffs by just 2.5 games. Merritt returned to the team for the 2016 season.

Brian McRae was named head coach of the HarbourCats on a two-year contract for 2017-18. A veteran of more than 1,000 major league games as an outfielder for the Kansas City Royals, Chicago Cubs, Toronto Blue Jays and Colorado Rockies, McRae guided the team to a Second Half North Division Pennant in his first season, and the franchise's first-ever berth in the WCL Championship Series.

Ownership Change[edit]

Founder and original owner John McLean, who had changed GMs with Holly Jones leaving and Jim Swanson coming in, would lose the team in a civil claim, part of a larger lawsuit involving his other interests, in BC Supreme Court in the fall of 2014, taken over by the Bhootan Group, led by Matthew Stoudt. Bhootan would then sell the team to local ownership led by John Wilson, Jim Swanson, Ken Swanson and Rich Harder, who took care of local debts and put the team on solid footing and in proper management.

The new local ownership group has given the HarbourCats a secure foothold and a structure that is sustainable for the long-term success of the HarbourCats in Victoria. The HarbourCats strive to be role model in the West Coast League and in the summer-collegiate baseball world, and are growing stronger on and off the field each year.


Alumni[edit]

On April 30, 2017, Nick Pivetta became the first former HarbourCats player to reach the major leagues when the right-hander started for the Philadelphia Phillies against the Washington Nationals. Following 2017, 40 HarbourCats players have been selected in the MLB draft.

References[edit]

External links[edit]