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Impossible dream for ball enthusiast

Getting inducted into a baseball hall of fame in southern Alberta, would have seemed the impossible dream for a man who fell in love with the summer game back in the summer of love.
FEBRUARY 2, 2019: The Okotoks Dawgs host the 12th annual awards banquet at Foohills Centennial Centre in Okotoks, Albeta (Angela Burger/Okotoks Dawgs)
Mike Rose was inducted into the Okotoks Dawgs Hall of Fame earlier this year. He helped bring Duvernay Fieldhouse and Tourmaline Field to the Seaman Stadium complex.

Getting inducted into a baseball hall of fame in southern Alberta, would have seemed the impossible dream for a man who fell in love with the summer game back in the summer of love.

“I was a Red Sox fan my whole life, that started in 1967,” said Mike Rose. “Our summer-time vacation we would drive to Maine and that’s Red Sox Nation, I got hooked then. Yaz was my favourite player growing up.”

Unlike the Bosox’s Impossible Dream year of ’67, Rose’s dream became a reality when he was named to the Okotoks Dawgs Hall of Fame earlier this year.

He became involved with the then Calgary Dawgs while coaching Little League baseball in 2006.

“My two eldest boys Jeremy and Brendan were probably 10 and 12 and I went to those clinics that Dave Robb ran at Okotoks Junior High School during the winter,” Rose said. “Just listening to what David was telling the kids, I knew this was a level of baseball I didn’t know, and I just kept bringing them to the clinics… I remember Dave saying in his [Dawgs] hall of fame speech he was worried about breaking things in that OJ gym.

“I kind of felt the need for nicer facilities way back then.”

Brendan would join the Dawgs Academy at the Bantam level in 2008 and went on to play with the collegiate Dawgs, hitting with the consistency of a Wade Boggs.

Meanwhile, Mike went about trying to put those worries about a smashed OJ office window to rest.

He helped finance the Duvernay Fieldhouse, after the company he used to own. Since that time, he also assisted with the Tourmaline Field, which is named after his present company.

“The Dawgs have all the ingredients for that perfect youth baseball recipe,” Rose said. “They have a great plan, John’s [Ircandia] leadership, and I believe they have assembled the best coaching for youth baseball in Canada.

“I just got to help with the facilities side of things.”

Rose is a successful geologist, whose definition of a perfect diamond is one with four sides of 90-feet each.

“I played a lot of baseball when I was growing up in Ontario,” Rose said. “My dad was a hockey guy and I played some hockey too, but baseball just go me. You can enjoy baseball on so many different levels.

“It’s like Shrek, when they peel the onion, there are so many different levels… I have learned things from the baseball side that I took back to work…. One of my favourite speeches I heard was from a coach to the kids was: “Attitude and effort are the only things you can control.’

“That applies more to work than anything…. The Dawgs’ slogan: ‘Get better, every day’ applies to everything.”

He said the Dawgs Academy produces not only good ballplayers, but young men who work hard, focus on academics and contribute.

“They know the importance of hard work, dedication and they will be great contributors in whatever they do,” Rose said. “I am just happy to be a part of it.”

With his work with the Dawgs being behind the scenes and in a quiet manner, he was thrilled to be selected for the hall of fame.

“I was busy writing my speech at work last week and one of the guys came in and said what are you doing?’ and I said I’m writing this speech for the Dawgs Hall of Fame,” Rose said with a laugh. “He said that’s pretty cool and I said: ‘That is really cool… The Dawgs Hall of Fame and the Stanley Slipper from the Canadian Society of Petroleum Geologists are the two awards that mean the most to me.’”

Meanwhile, there’s another Rose on the Dawgs’ vine. Mike and Susan Rose’s younger son Aidan is currently in the Dawgs’ program.

“He’s got a couple of more years, but Sue and I are running out of kids,” he said with a laugh. “Hopefully, he will be playing for a few more years because it seems like we’ve had a kid in Dawgs forever, which has been great.”

Also being inducted into the Dawgs hall of fame was UBC Thunderbirds coach Terry McKaig.

McKaig has won 553 games in his 18 years at the helm (.614 win percentage), as well as eight NAIA West titles and a NAIA World Series berth.

There have been a number of UBC T’Birds who have played in the Dawgs’ organization, who went on to sign professional contracts. They include pitcher Mark Hardy, Padres; infielder Sammie Starr, Orioles; first baseman Bruce Yari, Reds and left-hander Jeremy Newton, the Brewers.

Although he didn’t sign a pro contract, T’Bird alumnus Brendan Rose graduated from the Vancouver school in engineering while playing for UBC.