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The Incredible Stories of Gorm Heimueller

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There may only be one man alive who, in the span of four minutes, can weave a story that includes the best basketball player of all time, a sure-fire hall-of-fame Major League manager, the legendary captain of the Yankees, two all-star catchers, and an accused killer.

Yes, a tale capped with an alleged murderer.
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Gorm Heimueller, now the pitching coach of the Nanaimo NightOwls of the West Coast League, is that guy. (Writer’s recommendation — buy Gorm dinner any chance you have, and sit back and listen to the stories. Worth every penny from a guy whose first spring training managers were Frank Robinson and Billy Martin.)
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This story — well, it’s worth the read for sure.
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Heimueller, a former MLB pitcher with nearly 50 years in the game (should it be mentioned that his college shortstop at Cal Poly was Ozzie Smith?), has World Series rings from developing pitchers for the Twins and Phillies, but his true wealth is the stories he can tell about the people he’s met. (His true wealth aside from his lovely wife LeeAnn, of course. You can’t forget LeeAnn, the Finnish Canadian.)

Gorm (it should be mentioned he once struck out Reggie Jackson, twice, and Rod Carew in a game in the Bigs) heard the news of the recent arrest of ex-Twins lefty Dan Serafini (more on that later) and was left recalling his fall in the fairly-new Arizona Fall League in 1994, sent by the Twins to help the Chandler Diamondbacks, playing games at the archaic former Brewers spring stadium.

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Ah, yes, 1994 — no October MLB playoffs due to the August walkout and players strike that surely kept the Montreal Expos and Toronto Blue Jays from their collision course in an all-Canadian World Series. (We all know the Expos would have needed six games to halt the Blue Jays’ run of World Series titles at two, right? Right.)

“We were the only baseball around, there was a lot of attention on us and that was fun,” said Gorm.

Gorm’s team’s catchers were Charles Johnson and Jason Kendall, who would go on to all-star status at the MLB level. A player in the league that fall was none other than Michael Jordan, who for still mysterious reasons abruptly left the Chicago Bulls in the midst of their dynasty to strike out a lot with the Birmingham Barons, AA affiliate of the White Sox. Ex-Expo Terry Francona, surely headed to the Hall of Fame as a manager, had Jordan on his teams both in Arizona and Birmingham — where Jordan famously bought a tricked-out bus for the team’s travel comfort.

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Gorm’s fall league shortstop? Gangly, barely 20 years old, defensively inconsistent at the time but taken sixth overall in 1992 by the Yankees — Derek Jeter.

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“Jeter and Serafini attended my son’s fifth birthday party that fall. I saw Jeter a few years later and, I hated doing this, but I wanted to get something signed so I went up to him — he said ‘Hey, Gorm! How are you’,” said Heimueller. “I was shocked he remembered me. And he was glad to sign some things for me.”

Actually a Jeter connection is why Heimueller is coaching for the NightOwls in the first place. His good friend in the game, legendary scout Marti Wolever, who was scouting supervisor for the Yankees when Jeter was drafted, worked with Gorm in the Phillies organization and they are close friends to this day.

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The classy Wolever, a member of the Professional Scouts Hall of Fame and a former minor league outfielder, was a top scout with the Detroit Tigers in 2016 when Jim Swanson, now GM of the NightOwls, was added as an Associate Scout by the Tigers. Wolever connected Swanson and Heimueller for the pitching coach opening in Nanaimo, putting NightOwls history in motion.

This whole story germinated from news that Serafini, who pitched for four MLB teams over an 11-year span, was arrested for murder and attempted murder tied to an attack in 2021 in the Lake Tahoe area.
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“I remember him well — he gave me a gift at the end of that fall season to thank me for putting up with him being such a pain in the ass,” said Gorm, laughing.
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“I liked him, and he went on to pitch for us with the Twins. But I guess with all those names it just shows you never know what’s going to become of people, right?” he added.

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Summer Collegiate

Three returning players, one a WCL all-star, and local infielder highlight eight NightOwls signings

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Those announced today:

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OF/LHP Riley Paulino, University of Pikeville, 5-11/180, Fife, WA (returning player)

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C Sammy Torres, University of Pikeville, 5-9/200, Yuaco, Puerto Rico (returning player)

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LHP Richtter Castillo, University of Pikeville, 6-0/215, Maracay, Venezuela

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IF Lucas Laukkanen, Cloud County commit, 6-0/190, Nanaimo

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LHP Carson Jones, St. Martins, 6-0/180, Walla Walla, WA (returning player)

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RHP Christian Lucero, Arizona Christian, 6-1/190, Sacramento

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OF Sammy Kahler, San Diego State, 6-0/185, Stockton, CA

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OF Drew Rutter, San Diego State, 6-1/190, Trabuco Canyon, CA

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Victoria HarbourCats – Manny’s hitting coach added to staff by Coach Haney

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2024 HarbourCats Coaching Staff – Front Row (L to R) Scott Anderson (Pitching Coach), Todd Haney (Head Coach), Trovin Valdez (Hitting Coach), Steve Sinclair (Bench Coach); Back Row (L to R): Ethan Fox (Bullpen Coach), Troy Birtwistle (First Base Coach).

For immediate release

April 16, 2024

VICTORIA, B.C. — An already strong coaching staff under WCL Coach of the Year Todd Haney just got stronger with the addition of Trovin Valdez, a former pro who made it to AAA in the Montreal Expos system.

Valdez, 50, was the personal hitting coach of Manny Ramirez during much of his record-setting MLB career and now works extensively with his sons Manny Jr. and Lucas, who have joined the HarbourCats for the 2024 WCL season. Valdez, who was once traded for lefthander David Wells, also works with a number of MLB players from his base in Florida, moving around the continent — and now will spend the summer exclusively in Victoria working with all HarbourCats hitters.

Haney, who has been with the HarbourCats since 2018 and Head Coach since 2019, is proud to unveil the entire staff for 2024:

  • Todd Haney, Head Coach (5th year, 4th as Head Coach)
  • Trovin Valdez, Hitting/Outfield Coach (First year)
  • Scott Anderson, Pitching Coach (Second year)
  • Troy Birtwistle, First Base Coach (Sixth year)
  • Steve Sinclair, Bench Coach (Second year)
  • Ethan Fox, Bullpen Coach (Third year, former HarbourCats player)

Under Haney, the HarbourCats led the WCL in hits, runs and stolen bases in 2023 and set a WCL record with an astounding 25-2 home record at Wilson’s Group Stadium at RAP, adding two more home wins in as many dates in the playoffs. The HarbourCats reached the WCL’s final game for the third time in five seasons.

Jaxon Williams (pictured right), part of the 2023 staff, is unable to return due to career reasons and the HarbourCats thank him and wish him all the best, he will always be a part of the HarbourCats family.

“This is a tremendous staff under incredible leadership from Todd — our players will be well served in their development,” said Christian Stewart, GM of the HarbourCats. “We couldn’t be happier with the makeup of this group, and we’re excited to see Trovin go to work. Our team set multiple team and league records on the offensive side of the game last year and that exciting style of play will be on display for our fans again.”

Valdez stole more than 250 bases as a pro, spanning nine seasons, and he joins former pro players Haney (five years MLB with Expos, Cubs and Mets), Anderson (also Expos system), Sinclair (MLB lefty with Blue Jays and Mariners), and Birtwistle (Australia). Fox played college ball and is the Head Coach of the Golden Tide CCBC team.

The HarbourCats open on the road May 31 in Kamloops, the start of back-to-back series in Kamloops and Kelowna, before returning for the June 7 home opener against Wenatchee. The HarbourCats will be on the road this summer in Kamloops, Kelowna, Edmonton, Wenatchee, Ridgefield, Port Angeles, Bellingham, and six games in Nanaimo against the Island-rival NightOwls at Serauxmen Stadium. Teams visiting Victoria this year are Wenatchee, Nanaimo, Bellingham, Port Angeles, Kelowna, Edmonton (two series), Kamloops and Corvallis, along with non-league games against the Redmond Dudes, Dub Sea Fishsticks, the SIBL All-Stars, and Victoria Mavericks All-Stars.

The regular season runs until August 7, with WCL playoffs running from August 10 to August 16.

Single game tickets are now available for the HarbourCats 2024 season including the home opener on Friday, June 7, 2024 at 6:35pm against the Kamloops NorthPaws. These can be purchased online through our one and only ticketing partner, Select Your Tickets, at www.harbourcats.com/tickets or at the HarbourCats office at 101-1814 Vancouver Street.

Season tickets and 10-game flex packs are also now on sale via the HarbourCats office or by calling 778-265-0327.

 

 

 

 

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Victoria HarbourCats – Manny Ramirez’s two sons sign with HarbourCats

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April 4 2024

VICTORIA, B.C. — Their father was once the most-feared hitter in the Major Leagues, a perennial all-star with a big personality who won a World Series, a batting title, and could change any game with one swing.

Manny Ramirez Jr., 21 (pictured above left), and Lucas Ramirez, 18 (pictured above right), carry the same potential — Manny Jr., a booming right-handed power hitter, with Lucas a lefty with a power stroke who has committed to the University of Tennessee for the fall.

Both outfielders who can DH, Manny Jr. and Lucas are excited to be coming to Victoria, to further develop under Head Coach Todd Haney, a former MLB player, and a coaching staff that also includes former pro player and coach Scott Anderson and former MLB pitcher Steve Sinclair.

“These are notable signings not just for us, but for the entire West Coast League — this will be exciting news for our fans and sponsors, no question,” said Jim Swanson of the HarbourCats. “They come highly recommended by our former pitching coach, Alec Adame, who is coaching Manny Jr. at ELAC (East LA College). It’s been a pleasure working with the family to set this all up, and we know Victoria will welcome them all with open arms — to the city rated the best city in the world. Alec was here in 2015 and knows how great the baseball environment is at Wilson’s Group Stadium at RAP.”

So far this spring Manny Jr. leads ELAC with three home runs and has 18 runs driven in over 20 games, adding nine doubles and walking 14 times. The 6-3/210 outfielder is a freshman who is a product of Calvary Christian high school in Clearwater, FL.

Lucas is a graduating high school senior at powerful American Heritage in Florida and is a possible high-round pick in the upcoming draft thanks to already developing power from the left side. He is already built like a pro at 6-3/200.

They have a tremendous baseball role model to aspire to. Manny Ramirez played 19 seasons and batted .312 with 555 home runs, the 15th highest total in MLB history — he starred for Cleveland, Boston, and the Dodgers, and finished with time for the Chicago White Sox and Tampa Bay Rays. He was a 12-time all-star, was MVP of the 2004 World Series when the Red Sox ended their long title drought, won the 2002 American League batting title, and was the Hank Aaron Award winner in 1999 and 2004. He was also part of a second Red Sox team to win the World Series in 2007, and hit more post-season home runs (29) than anyone else in the history of the game. He finished top-10 in MVP voting in the American League eight years in a row (1998-2005).

The HarbourCats open on the road May 31 in Kamloops, the start of back-to-back series in Kamloops and Kelowna, before returning for the June 7 home opener against Wenatchee. The HarbourCats will be on the road this summer in Kamloops, Kelowna, Edmonton, Wenatchee, Ridgefield, Port Angeles, Bellingham, and six games in Nanaimo against the Island-rival NightOwls at Serauxmen Stadium. Teams visiting Victoria this year are Wenatchee, Nanaimo, Bellingham, Port Angeles, Kelowna, Edmonton (two series), Kamloops and Corvallis, along with non-league games against the Redmond Dudes, Dub Sea Fishsticks, the SIBL All-Stars, and Victoria Mavericks All-Stars.

The regular season runs until August 7, with WCL playoffs running from August 10 to August 16.

Single game tickets are now available for the HarbourCats 2024 season including the home opener on Friday, June 7, 2024 at 6:35pm against the Kamloops NorthPaws. These can be purchased online at www.harbourcats.com/tickets or at the HarbourCats office at 101-1814 Vancouver Street.

Season tickets and 10-game flex packs are also now on sale via the HarbourCats office or by calling 778-265-0327.

IMPORTANT NOTE:  If you are a 2023 Season Ticket holder who has not yet renewed your seats for the 2024 season, please do so by April 15th, 2024 or your seats will be released and available to the public for sale. Please call Christian at 778-265-0327 ASAP to renew your seats.

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