It was a wonderful night to celebrate an amazing association and honour an incredible coach.
On Monday, April 4, the BC Minor Baseball Association (BCMBA) was in Salmon Arm to present two major awards.
The first award, 2021 Association of the Year, was presented to the Salmon Arm Minor Baseball Association (SAMBA).
2021 was a unique and challenging year for minor baseball, but for SAMBA, thanks in large part to its 100-plus volunteers, it had one of its best seasons on record. More than 300 players registered for the spring season, an association high, and it was one of the highest number of female registrants in SAMBA history, making its inclusion rate one of the highest in BC.
In 2021 SAMBA accomplished a number of firsts. It fielded its first 15UAAA team, added to its infrastructure by fundraising for and building a double-lane batting cage, ran programs in all four seasons, and had High Performance teams in four divisions, 9U, 15U and two teams in the 11U and 13U divisions, all of which had winning records for their seasons. This small association was able to accomplish big things and deserved to be recognized as the 2021 BCMBA Association of the Year.
The second award presented filled the room with emotion.
Coach Pat ‘Grumpy’ Phelan, who passed away in 2020 at the age of 63, was inducted into the BCMBA’s Honour Roll as a coach in appreciation of his contribution to the BC Minor Baseball Association.
Coach Grumpy, as he was known to SAMBA players, played college baseball at Yakima Valley College in 1976 and 1977 and was selected as his team’s MIP (Most Inspirational Player) recipient in 1977. He was a Northwest Athletic Conference (NWAC) All Star selection and MVP catcher and won two NWAC Championships. His 1977 team was inducted into the NWAC Hall of Fame, and he was a member of Team BC’s 1977 Canada Games team that won gold.
Following his playing career, Coach Grumpy coached all ages from T-ball to the pro level. He guided many young players though minor baseball to college and through their professional careers. He worked with several Team Canada women’s softball athletes, wrote coaching manuals and taught coaching courses all over the country. But Coach Grumpy was more than a coach. He taught the fundamentals, but his focus was always work ethic, respect, honesty, kindness and love of the game. Coach Grumpy mentored and inspired thousands of baseball people and there is no one more deserving of this award.
BCMBA, SAMBA players and coaches honoured Coach Grumpy by sharing what he meant to them and to the game. Coach Grumpy’s daughters were unable to attend the ceremony due to road conditions, so the award was accepted on Coach Grumpy’s behalf by players of his SAMBA 11U A Provincial Championship team. It was a bittersweet moment. This was the association’s first opportunity to gather and celebrate their amazing coach, but it was also a reminder that he will always be missing from minor baseball.
Congratulations to Coach Grumpy and SAMBA for their tremendous accomplishments.
– Submitted by Rebecca Scott on behalf of SAMBA
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