Chatham-Kent’s new Intercounty Baseball League team has been named the“Blackbirds,” following a community-wide online contest. First General Manager introduced, has storied baseball past.
BLENHEIM — The Chatham-Kent Blackbirds have officially hatched. The Blackbirds will soar onto Fergie Jenkins Field at Rotary Park in May of 2024 for C-K’s historic first season of Intercounty Baseball.
The management team, led by Team Owner and President Dom Dinelle, made the big announcement on Friday morning at the Red Barn Brewing Company in Blenheim following a community-wide online contest.
“We are thrilled with the outpouring of support and love from the community,” said Dinelle. “The involvement of the entire municipality is so important to us. We want this to be a team for the whole community of C-K. We now have an identity. And now the real work begins.”
The new expansion Intercounty Baseball League (IBL) franchise received more than 600 entries with 400-plus names submitted in an online contest held on the Let’s Talk Chatham-Kent website. The five finalists on the list were revealed as North Stars, Legends, Wheat Kings, Field Kings and Blackbirds.
The Blackbirds concept was adopted by the club in relation to the popularity of the birds throughout Chatham-Kent and following an overwhelming number of “Crow” related entries in the online contest. With a nod to C-K’s feathered friends, management believes the name will aid in creating a fun and family-friendly atmosphere, while allowing for multiple options on the marketing front, with respect to logos, uniforms, a team mascot and more.
Fifteen local residents who submitted the top five finalist names will be rewarded with two tickets each to the very first Blackbirds Home Opener in 2024. There were five entries for the winning name, all of whom will also receive two tickets to the Home Opener.
Baseball lifer Harry Muir was introduced as the first-ever Blackbirds General Manager during the media and community conference. Muir, from London, spent four years in the Toronto Blue Jays minor league system during their heyday of title runs in the early 90s. He also etched his name in the Canadian baseball history books by becoming the first Canadian to throw a no-hitter in international play.
Harry won a gold medal representing Team Ontario at the Canadian Nationals in Trois Rivieres with Team Ontario in 1990. Later that summer, Muir was selected to join Team Canada and traveled to Cuba for the World Junior Championships. In his first start, Harry would throw that historic first-ever no-hitter by a Canadian in international play. The following spring, Harry would travel to Florida, after being signed by the Toronto Blue Jays as a Canadian free agent directly out of high school. He would spend the next four years in their minor league system. While a member of the St Catherine’s Blue Jays, Harry was featured in an award winning documentary produced by CBC television titled, “Chasing the Dream.” In 1995, Muir found himself in Montpellier, France playing for the Barracudas of the French Premier League. He went undefeated, won another National Championship and captured “Import Pitcher of the Year” honours. Upon returning to Ontario, Harry had a brief stint with the London Majors of the IBL as a player before switching his focus to coaching for the team. Muir also spent 12 years managing and coaching in the London Tecumsehs Organization helping to grow youth players passion for the game. Recently, Harry helped launch POSI (Purpose of Sport Initiative), an organization to promote and support the growth of positive character and culture in sport.
The new ball team has also introduced their first fundraiser, a special stand-up comedy night at The Red Barn Brewing Company on Thursday, April 6. Working alongside Denny Vervaet and the Red Barn team, the Blackbirds are bringing in a special headliner and making plans for a VIP seating area, the first chance at Blackbirds merchandise and more. An announcement about tickets is expected soon.
The Blackbirds also introduced their Corporate Sales team, led by Sales Manager and Executive Assistant to the President, Mark Jackson. The sales personnel will consist of Allan Cameron (Dresden), Anthony Clark (Sarnia), Laura Kalika (Merlin), Gregg Ross (Ridgetown) and Mathew Speed (West Lorne). The sales and marketing teams will be hitting the ground running in early February, seeking corporate and community sponsorship and partnerships.
Victory Ford and Victory Lincoln in Chatham was named as the Blackbirds first corporate sponsor.
“The support from the community has been overwhelming,” said Jackson. “Shortly after announcing my involvement, Victory immediately approached us about a fit. The early support makes a big difference for the team and for the community.”
Jackson added that corporate packages are designed to accommodate any budget and to maximize return on investment while supporting Chatham-Kent’s new IBL franchise.
“Yes, we will have signage in the outfield, and yes – we will have ads in our game-day programs,” Mark added. “But we also want to offer experiences. How does taking batting practice or shagging fly balls with the team sound? Or throwing out the ceremonial first pitch? A VIP work-related team building experience? We want to think outside of the box and we want all of C-K to be able to join us for Intercounty Baseball right here at home.”
Longtime local radio host and community booster Jay Smith was also named as the club’s Vice President Executive of Media Relations and Marketing Director.
“I’m super excited for this to become a reality,” said Smith. “I’m a self professed baseball nerd and a long-time IBL and London Majors fan. I’ve wondered about the possibility of the IBL coming to C-K for decades. And now it’s happening. We’ve got that good kind of nervous energy happening right now, but there’s a lot of work to be done between now and that first pitch in May of 2024. It will take a community truly coming together to support this and to make it work. I’m proud to be a small part of it.”
The team previously introduced Chatham-Kent baseball legends Bill Atkinson and Fergie Jenkins as prominent fixtures of the organization. Atkinson will act as Team Ambassador and be in attendance at Blackbirds home games regularly. Atkinson, a pitcher, signed with MLB’s Montreal Expos in 1971 and played and coached professionally for 11 years with the Expos and Chicago White Sox organizations. Atkinson reached the majors in 1976 with Montreal and played in 98 Major League games between ‘76 and ‘79. Jenkins, Canada’s first Baseball Hall of Famer and one of Canada’s most prominent sports figures will serve as Honorary President.
Follow the Chatham-Kent Blackbirds on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram @ckblackbirds
News: IBL Veteran Brett Lawson Re-Signs with Hamilton
The Hamilton Cardinals have re-signed veteran right-handed starting pitcher Brett Lawson.Standing tall at 6-foot-8 and hailing from Burlington, Lawson made a mid-season move to the Cardinals from the Welland Jackfish during the 2023 campaign. Despite a limited regular-season engagement, where he pitched 7 innings for the Cardinals, Lawson stepped up remarkably in the playoff series…
The Hamilton Cardinals have re-signed veteran right-handed starting pitcher Brett Lawson.
Standing tall at 6-foot-8 and hailing from Burlington, Lawson made a mid-season move to the Cardinals from the Welland Jackfish during the 2023 campaign. Despite a limited regular-season engagement, where he pitched 7 innings for the Cardinals, Lawson stepped up remarkably in the playoff series against Barrie, delivering a standout performance by striking out 10 batters across 8 innings and achieving a commendable ERA of 3.37.
With a rich career spanning over 500 innings in the IBL and accumulating more than 400 strikeouts, Lawson’s experience is unparalleled in the league. His illustrious career includes clinching the IBL’s prestigious Dominico Cup with the Barrie Baycats from 2014 to 2018. Lawson’s professional journey was kickstarted when he was drafted by the Minnesota Twins in the 15th round of the 2001 MLB June Amateur Draft, following his tenure at Northwestern Oklahoma State University, marking the beginning of a six-season journey in professional baseball. The Cardinals will continue to lean on Lawson’s proven leadership and track record of success throughout the 2024 season.
“Lawson is one of the model IBL veterans, and with a young roster, we’re fortunate to have him back with us,” said George Halim, Hamilton Cardinals General Manager. “He’s a lifetime pro who knows how to get outs, and knows how to compete while giving us a chance to win when he’s out there.”
About the Hamilton Cardinals
The Hamilton Cardinals Baseball Club are a member of Canada’s best league, the Intercounty Baseball League. The over 100-year old summer league is one of the oldest baseball leagues in the world, established in 1919. For more information visit: https://www.theibl.ca & https://www.iblcardinals.ca
News: JACKFISH ANNOUNCE CHAMPION VS. CHAMPION GAME AGAINST QUEBEC CAPITALES
WELLAND – The Welland Jackfish, Niagara’s sports entertainment destination, is excited to announce they will host the 2023 Frontier League Champions Quebec Capitales for a preseason game at Welland Stadium on Monday, May 6.Gates are scheduled to open at 6:00 p.m. and first pitch is set for 7:05 p.m. Concessions will be available and tickets…
WELLAND – The Welland Jackfish, Niagara’s sports entertainment destination, is excited to announce they will host the 2023 Frontier League Champions Quebec Capitales for a preseason game at Welland Stadium on Monday, May 6.
Gates are scheduled to open at 6:00 p.m. and first pitch is set for 7:05 p.m. Concessions will be available and tickets can be purchased over the phone by calling 905-735-9834 or by clicking here.
“It will be great to open the doors on May 6 for the exhibition against Quebec,” team President and Director of Fun, Ryan Harrison said. “I appreciate Pat Scalabrini and the entire Quebec Capitales for making this happen for us and all of our fans. It will be tremendous for our players – and our gameday staff – to get in a preseason game under the lights as we continue to prepare for Opening Day. It’s incredible to be home at the Pond.”
The Québec Capitales (French: Les Capitales de Québec) are a professional baseball team based in Quebec City, Quebec. The Capitales have been members of the Frontier League since the 2020 season after a merger between the Can-Am League and the Frontier League in October 2019. Since the 1999 season, the Capitales have played their home games at Stade Canac.
The Jackfish return to The Pond on Saturday, May 18th at 6:05 pm for their 2024 Home Opener. Season membership and flex plans are on sale now at wellandjackfish.com/2024 or by calling 905-735-9834.
The Welland Jackfish are a member of Canada’s best league, the Intercounty Baseball League. The over 100-year old summer league is one of the oldest baseball leagues in the world, with the league established in 1919, drawing significantly more fans, in a friendly ballpark experience, than any league of its kind. For more information, visit www.wellandjackfish.com or follow the Jackfish on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter at @wellandjackfish.
News: Leafs Re-Sign Pitcher Chris Nagorski
TORONTO, Ontario – The Toronto Maple Leafs Baseball Club (@MapleLeafsBaseball) announced today the re-signing of 5 time IBL Champion Right-Handed Pitcher Chris NagorskiNagorski returns for his 3rd season with the Leafs after spending 8 seasons in the IBL with Guelph and Barrie. Nagorski is 2nd all time in IBL career saves (25) and 12th all-time…
TORONTO, Ontario – The Toronto Maple Leafs Baseball Club (@MapleLeafsBaseball) announced today the re-signing of 5 time IBL Champion Right-Handed Pitcher Chris Nagorski
Nagorski returns for his 3rd season with the Leafs after spending 8 seasons in the IBL with Guelph and Barrie. Nagorski is 2nd all time in IBL career saves (25) and 12th all-time in appearances (136 games) . Last season in 12 games, Chris stuck out 8 and had an ERA of 5.26 in 13.2 Innings pitched.
“Chris is a tremendous team player and understands his role as a leader and late inning relief pitcher. He knows how to be ready to pitch and helps the younger players adjust to the IBL. We are excited to have him back this year.” GM Jeff Lounsbury
“I am thrilled to run it back with the boys and contribute to a new era of Toronto Maple Leaf Baseball” said Nagorkski
The Toronto Maple Leafs are a member of Canada’s best league, the Intercounty Baseball League. The over 100-year-old summer league is one of the oldest baseball leagues in the world, with the league established in 1919, drawing significantly more fans, in a friendly ballpark experience, than any league of its kind. For more information, visit www.mapleleafsbaseball.com or follow the Maple Leafs on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
This announcement is brought to you by NEW ERA CAP COMPANY official hat supplier of the Toronto Maple Leaf Baseball Team. New Era | New Era Hats & Apparel – New Era Cap
Photo: Craig Aikin