Skip to content

Rain victorious in inaugural NorthPaws West Coast League game

Wet conditions forced cancellation of the Kamloops-Edmonton game at Norbrock Stadium. The opening game will take place on Wednesday, with a doubleheader on Thursday

In the end, baseball’s oldest nemesis won the day.

The Kamloops NorthPaws’ inaugural game in the West Coast League was cancelled on Tuesday night (May 31) due to rain, but the wet conditions didn’t deter fans from venturing to McArthur Island in hopes of seeing the first-ever WCL game in the city, with the Edmonton Riverhawks the opponent.

Both teams are expansion clubs in the WCL, a spring/summer collegiate league with teams in Alberta, B.C., Washington state and Oregon.

The gate to Dearborn Ford Field at Norbrock Stadium opened promptly at 5 p.m. to a smattering of baseball fans and residual raindrops from an afternoon thunderstorm that had put the game in question.

Fans filed into the stands despite the inclement weather and the mood outside the ballpark was one of contentedness, with people laughing and embracing ahead of the game as if it were a family reunion. Spectators young and old — many in their finest NorthPaws gear — took in the Bob Seger tribute band, checked out team merchandise and grabbed some food and drinks. Many hands sported red solo cups or other canned beverages and the smell of hot dogs and wet grass wafted in the air on a cool weekday evening.

But the band may have better reflected a tribute to the one that played on the Titanic because, with blue and grey clouds overhead, Mother Nature changed her mind and heavy rain returned, creating puddles gathering on the field and in the stands.

Just after 6 p.m., an announced rain delay was followed by game cancellation, with attendees able to redeem their tickets to the delayed game on Thursday as part of a now scheduled doubleheader.

Wednesday will be the new home opening game.

If nothing else, the fanbase proved itself on Tuesday. Despite the weather, the stands were filled with many spectators and an umbrella-laden long line for the concession at the stadium’s entrance stretched into the parking lot just before the opening pitch.

“We had over 1,000 tickets sold for tonight,” team co-ownerJon Pankuch told KTW. “I hope everyone comes back. I think they will. I think this is just a glance of what we’re going to put in the park every game.”

He said player safety and fan enjoyment were factors to consider in cancelling the game.

“Can’t control the weather. That’s the bottom line,” Pankuch said. 

Tuesday’s rain delay was the latest in what has been an ongoing wait for the NorthPaws to begin play in the WCL. The team was supposed to join the league last year, but their arrival was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ahead of the game’s cancellation, fans expressed to KTW they were looking forward to some good baseball and the camaraderie of taking in a ball game.

Westsyde resident Mark Hunter took his seven-year-old son Max to the game right at 5 p.m., ready to use the season tickets that had been burning a hole in his pocket for two years.

“We’re big baseball fans and want to see the team do well,” Hunter said of the season ahead.

Hunter said he told his son they’d check out the home opener and his son had been asking him all day when they would be going.

“I’m excited to see the future,” Hunter said. “Maybe in a few years, some of these players end up on our TVs, playing in the big leagues.”

EXTRA INNNGS — Wednesday’s game is set to begin at 6:35 p.m. at Norbrock Stadium. Kamloops is one of five Canadian teams in the WCL, joining Edmonton, the Kelowna Falcons, the Victoria Harbour Cats and the Nanaimo NightOwls/Bars.

In the 2021 Major League Baseball draft, there were 41 current or former West Coast Leaguers drafted, including a first-rounder (17th overall) and three second-round picks.

For more information on the league, go online to westcoastleague.com. For more information on the NorthPaws, including ticket details, go online to northpawsbaseball.ca.