Baycats 20/20 Vision: The Past, Present, and Future: Roy Reflects on Baycats Career

by Ryan Eakin

BARRIE - Angus Roy has been there for all seven of the Barrie Baycats' championship wins.

But how he celebrated the last one -- in September of 2019 -- was different than how he celebrated the first six.

And that is because moments before the final out, he did something that he never did before.

He looked around the crowd and the field and took the entire moment in.

"...For the first time in any of these [championship wins], I actually took a moment before the game was over to take a step back and look around the crowd, to kind of soak it in," said Roy to me on the field following the Baycats' game six drubbing of the Kitchener Panthers.

In hindsight, it is easy to know why he did that, as it would end up being the last game Roy would ever manage for the Baycats.

He resigned two months later, citing that he wanted to spend more summer nights with his family.

Once his resignation went public, the "thank yous" and "congratulations" began pouring in and it is not hard to find out why.

Roy is not only the most iconic player and manager in franchise history but one of the more beloved athletes in the history of sports in the City of Barrie.

In a recent interview, he said he never would have thought his Baycats career would become what it became when he first joined the Baycats.

"I just wanted to keep playing the game," said the man who is known as 'Goose.' "I was working towards being a teacher and I had applied to Teachers College and was doing volunteer work at the high school where my father worked. 

"Dave McAllister was a Physical Education teacher at Rick Hansen SS where I was volunteering and he played for [then- Baycats manager] Nick Owen when he was growing up. He was on the national championship-winning team that was honoured at the park a few years back. 

"He called Nick, I went up for a tryout indoors back when the Baycats did that, met [then Baycats general manager] Gary Calvert, threw a bullpen for them, and the rest was history."

After a short stint with the Baycats, Roy signed with the Boston Red Sox as a free agent.

After a short stint there, Roy briefly pitched in the Frontier League before finally coming back to Barrie.

It was then that he made the city his home forever.

"Realistically, it was time to start my life," said Roy. "I had played Indy Ball in the Frontier League right out of university so I had already had that experience. I had a young daughter, was newly married, and had my teaching degree so I just thought it was time to start living rather than chase the dream any longer.

"In terms of Barrie becoming my home, I guess the easiest indicator was when my wife and I purchased a house here. We had really good discussions about what we wanted to do with our life together before getting married. One of the things was her having the ability to be a stay at home mom if she wanted to and could. We knew we couldn’t have that happen in Mississauga or Toronto where we were both from. 

"She has a family cottage in Honey Harbour and Barrie was very affordable at the time. It was equidistance from our families and the cottage and we had friends in the area so we thought Barrie was a great place to start our family."

It was not all that long after that the Baycats reached the top of the Intercounty.

In 2005 -- after beating the Guelph Royals in the semis -- the Baycats faced off against the Toronto Maple Leafs in the league championship series.

And it was Roy who stole the show.

Roy recalls the night he pitched in the championship-clinching game six as though it was yesterday.

"Game six was actually delayed a night because of rain," recalled Roy. "The scene the night before was actually incredible. The place was packed and people were just sitting and wearing the rain hoping for a game. 

"We actually wanted to play that night because we were starting to lose guys to school and some had to leave the next day. But we just couldn’t play. 

"So I really only got to pitch game six because of the rainout. Jordan Neufeld was the original game six starter but the rain gave me another day of rest and Jeff Sharpe -- our manager at the time -- moved me up to game six. The rain also gave Spolly [Maple Leafs starting pitcher Paul Spoljaric] another day of rest so he pitched game six as well. It was the third time in the series that we matched up against each other after having pitched games one and game four against each other. 

"Usually, I don’t get nervous before games but I told my wife that I was nervous and she didn’t know what to do. I was nervous because that was basically our game seven. We were going to lose a lot more guys after that game, so we basically had to win.

"That Leaf lineup was deep and they made you work for everything. I wasn’t great by any stretch of the imagination that night but I felt like I made pitches when I needed to.

"[Joe] Colamecco lead off the game with a hit and then Shane Ridley hit into a double play. That’s kind of how the night went, in and out of trouble. The Leafs opened the scoring in the 4th when I gave up a double and single to start the inning. They added on in the 6th, then I gave up a homer to Gamon Teague. 

"The thing about that was, right before that at-bat, Danny Gibbons singled off me to right but Spatty [Baycats right fielder Ryan Spataro] threw him out at first. He saved us a run.

"Spolly, on the other hand, was cruising. He was perfect through five. The boys were still loose and confident but it was a battle. Then, [former Baycat Alex] Borgo led off the 6th with an absolute bomb. That gave us some momentum and we ended up scoring three that inning to take the lead but my dumb ass gave the lead right back in the bottom half of the 6th on a two-out single," joked Roy.

"The game stayed 3-3 until the bottom of the 8th. With two out and nobody on, [then-Baycats shortstop David] Latour got jammed but had enough to get one just over second base. [Then-Baycats catcher Jordan] Lundberg then hit a slicing liner to right that Gibbons dove for and missed which gave us the lead. [Former Baycat Ryan] Davis doubled, then [new manager Josh] Matlow singled, and we scored three with two out to lead 6-3. 

"In the 9th, they pinch-hit [future Baycats Jeremy] Walker to start the inning and he struck out. Then Colamecco doubled, and I walked Ridley.

"I’m standing there thinking, 'if you give this up man.' [Future Baycat Matt] Logan grounded out to 2nd for the 2nd out, then Nildo [Puertas] struck out to end the game and it was chaos. 

"Huge dog pile and we stood on the field which felt like forever, as people came and asked for autographs and pictures. It was a night that I will never forget."

 Two years after that night, the Baycats had an opening at field manager.

The Baycats hired Roy and the rest, of course, is history.

"Quite simply, they asked me," said Roy when asked how he got the job. "I had started to help as a pitching coach the year before but had no desire to manage and the thought never entered my mind. 

"When Keck [Calvert] asked me, I told him I had to call the boys. I was still playing at the time and the guys on the team were also my best friends. I called all of them individually and had a discussion about what they thought. 

"The main thing is I had to have them understand that we needed to be able to separate the on the field stuff from the off the field stuff and if they couldn’t I wouldn’t do it because their friendship was far more important to me than managing.

"But they all agreed that they could, so I took the job."

Almost instantly after taking the job, Roy and the Baycats were on the losing end of their epic battles with the Brantford Red Sox.

And to make matters worse -- after the worst defeat in franchise history in 2013 where the Baycats blew a 3-0 series lead in the league championship series to the Red Sox -- they were without a general manager after Doug Dimma resigned.

Rumours began swirling that the core was going to split up, too, with some even taking their talent to Brantford.

Roy recalls that offseason and his hiring as general manager quite well.

"As soon as Dimms resigned, I had a feeling that they were going to ask me," recalled Roy. "My two concerns were keeping everyone together and if I had the connections to acquire talent to improve the club. I reached out to the baseball community and many people gave me the confidence that I could do the job so I said yes.

"In terms of keeping the group together, I was just honest with them. I called [now-former Baycats catcher Kyle] DeGrace and we had a good quality discussion. I told him that we had unfinished business and asked him if he could trust in me and the organization. I gave him my word that if we didn’t win the championship in 2014 and he wanted to go somewhere else, I would release him with no questions asked. 

"That was the approach with all the boys. They put the trust in our relationship and the organization and the rest is history."

The rest, indeed, is history.

The Baycats -- from that point onward -- have won six straight championships.

Roy said it never would have happened without two key moves.

"Keeping everyone together in 2014 is by far the most important move. We don’t come close to what we accomplished if the group doesn’t stay together in 2014. 

"We had an incredible foundation and we needed to keep that group together and build on it slightly, everyone knew that.

"The second is getting into the Dominican market. Branfy [Infante] and the organization deserve all the credit for that. Branfy was the one who brought in Santos [Arias]. I was just asking around, including the boys because there is a lot of word of mouth in this league if anyone knew of any high-quality arms. Branfy mentioned Santos and then the organization had to give the okay from a financial standpoint because bringing in import arms takes a lot. 

"Then, the quality of the group and the baseball lead to more Dominican born players. We don’t reach the heights we do without the group staying together and the quality of the pitching we have had over the years."

With all of the successes that this team has had over the years come great memories on the field.

Roy said he has so many on-field memories that he'd be all day recalling them, so he shared some of his favourites. 

"To me, it is impossible to narrow it down to one or two," said Roy. "There are so many great memories. 

"From a pitching performance standpoint, Biss in game two in '05, then Neuf [Neufeld] in game three, which I still believe is the most dominant pitching performance in the history of the organization.

"Spolly’s almost perfect game against Oshawa and my dumb ass taking [Chris] Kemlo out with a no-hitter against [the] Guelph [Royals] because I didn’t realize he had one going, too.

"From a position player standpoint, the [Jordan] Castaldo show in London, Borgo going bananas before he left for California, [Kevin] Atkinson before he left for Hawaii, DeGrace being the general and in control of everything, and just getting to watch Spatty day in day out for 15 years. I could go on and on.

"But I will give you three, and properly answer your question. We were playing a regular-season game back in '05. I can’t remember the guy who this happened to (it was Matlow) but he went up and got drilled in the elbow in his at-bat. Then when he got to first, a couple of pitches later he had to break up a double play and did so beautifully. When he got back to the dugout, Ryan Davis was the first guy to greet him and he said to him 'great shift'.

"In the second round in '05, we were playing Guelph. Biss was pitching his ass off the entire playoffs -- just dealing. He was getting very little run support and defensive support at the time. He is also an extremely competitive guy. We were trailing when he came out of the game. 

"Well, he let his feelings be known right in front of the dugout. Just let it out. We went on to win that game.

"Lastly, we have always had a heated rivalry with London. One time, we were in London, and things were getting a little heated again. A lot of chirping back and forth, nothing out of the ordinary. 

"Between innings when they were warming up, their first baseman at the time let one of the throws from the infielders go, and as you know about London, it went right into our dugout. Gary Calvert, our GM at the time, had a few words for the guy. The guy turned, yelled, and took one step towards Keck, and before the blink of an eye, our entire dugout was on the field and ready to go.

"Why these three stories? Simple, it is the foundation of our organization. We play hard at all times, speak your mind without any repercussions, and we protect each other at all times."

But for Roy, he truly knows where the real memories lay. 

And that is off the field.

He said who he is as a person is because of this franchise.

"The weddings are my favourite. All the guys being there. It just illustrates the group and how close we are.

"But in terms of ones you’re probably looking for, getting pulled over in the bus on the way home from London after winning in 2014, Spatty driving the bus home from game two in Kitchener in 2019, and Donovan Latour driving a golf cart into the pond at the golf tournament to name a few.

"My life is incredible. The majority of the people in my life at this point are because of this organization. To try and single one out would say that one is more important than another and I can’t do that. Every person in my life holds a special place in my heart. 

"I am happy that they are part of my life and I try and let them know that as often as I can. I never thought it would be like this when I decided to play in 2002. I am just glad they are all part of my life and I know that I can count on them, and I hope they can count on me.

"Biss, Ali, Bugz, Keck, Stano, Coker, Chainsaw, Claire, D, Dhue, Engy, Trainer, Mada, Nikki, Branf, Johnsy, DARK, Jerry, Daider, Millsy, Neuf, Proc, Spatty, and JoJo."

To view the scoresheet from Angus' 16 strikeout game in 2002, click here.

Up next week in our "Baycats 20/20 Vision: The Past, Present, and Future," I chat with Jordan Lundberg on the Baycats' first championship win in 2005.

To read and watch our entire series, click here.

For more information, follow the Baycats on Facebook and Twitter at @iblbaycats and on Instagram at @barriebaycats. 

Photo: Brian Backland/Brian Backland Photography