We Dem Boyz: The Final Chapter
Written by Kyle DeGrace (#18)
Edited and published by Ryan Eakin
In 2012, instead of driving 12 minutes eastbound on Bloor St. W. to Christie Pitts for home games, I decided to take the 400 North 250 km round trip for home games.
It was an opportunity to play in a more structured baseball environment at the time and I jumped all over the opportunity, which was led by the recruitment of Gary Calvert and former teammate and friend, Doug Dimma, who was the Baycats' new general manager at the time.
Let’s skip ahead a few years here.
Everyone knows what happened and it was cool and all but it wasn’t the best part of my tenure as a Baycat player. What was the best part of being a Baycat? The answer to me is simple and nobody outside of that clubhouse will ever understand.
It was the brotherhood that was created within the room. It took a year or two for a noticeable change in the culture in the room, but man when it happened, we took off! Excluding some of course (Look, I’m not your teammate anymore so you know who you are if you weren’t apart of the group... You know, I say it how it is) The brotherhood and bond that OUR CORE GROUP had (Past tense now, #NEWERA) made it easy to spend countless hours in traffic, miss family events, weddings, birthdays, and whatever else some of us missed.
This dude Biss was at the yard like three hours after the birth of his child. Who does that, even if it was like kid number 8? Who’s counting? (Sorry Ali! I love you!)
They kept that stat out of the Baycats record books.
None of us cared because we knew when we pulled into the yard for BP, the music would be blaring and we got to hang out. That’s all it was to us – we didn’t care who we were playing and we didn’t care who was pitching. We just wanted to all be together at the yard, shoot the shit, take some death hacks in BP and then destroy whoever our opponent was when the game started and then hang out after the game.
We would have massive rain delays, where every other team in the league would have canceled games. What did we do? We all worked on the field together, because we knew that we wanted that time together.
What began as a brotherhood, ultimately became my family. It became my wife’s family. I feel a part of each of my teammate’s families. That shit is special, man. This is a men’s league with ex-pro and collegiate players. A true working man’s league. Who the hell would have ever thought that it would lead to me creating some of the closest friendships I have in life today?
I never would have envisioned in 2012 that some of my best friends in my life today were teammates that were going to meet for the first time at our first spring practice in 2012. What a F*&%ing ride. (RAPS IN 8!!)
After the final out this past season and after winning our sixth straight championship, I knew something felt different. What it was, I didn’t yet know. It was about two to three months after the season that I finally realized what it was.
I didn’t need to drive 250km up the 400N in traffic to see my friends at the yard anymore. Why? Because we're family and family will do anything to spend time with family. Baseball no longer had to be the common ground between us all to get us together.
Stevie Lewis and I recently went to watch one of Drew’s (Drew Roy, Goose’s son) basketball games in Markham. Why? We missed our skip but more importantly because Drew became part of our Baycat family and he came to watch our games so why not go watch and support him at his game?
All of our wives and girlfriends became so close over the years as well. They became a small little family just like all the guys in our clubhouse did. #LadyCats.
I guess I can add in some baseball now.
Thank you to the Brantford Red Sox for teaching us a couple of lessons along the way. The beatings that you put on us and the epic collapse we had really taught us how to win. Eight straight IBL Finals appearances and six rings work for me. I think it was a pretty solid run in Barrie. Thank you, to all involved in helping us accomplish what we did.
To the owners, I can’t thank the people involved in the organization enough.
To Gary Calvert and David Mills, thank you! You both are tremendous men and really cared about the organization and putting a winning product on the field. To all the other owners that came along throughout the years, thank you! You allowed us to enjoy coming to the yard every day.
Special shoutout to Mr. Angus Roy. Goose, not sure I really liked you at first because you didn’t let me catch year one, but I think it worked out. You are an incredible human being and you sacrificed so much to take care of all of us.
You never missed a single bus ride or a game. I’m not sure people really know the impact you had on the City of Barrie and the Baycats organization but every single one of us in the clubhouse did and we all love you for it. Go enjoy some time on the basketball court! It is much deserved.
To the fans in Barrie, thank you for the support over the years and coming out to the ballpark. You made the atmosphere fun to be a part of.
To my teammates, I mean family. Thank you. To Spatty & Biss, thank you for letting me become a part of your group. I never thought it would become what it did off-field. I’m truly grateful for everything and can’t wait for the next shaker.
To my wife, Laura. Thank you for allowing me to continue to play all those summers up in Barrie. Even though it was a great excuse for us to go to the cottage more often!
I missed a lot of events and couldn’t have done it without your support. I love you.
Lastly, the Baycats are going through a change of the guard and I wish the organization nothing but the best. I hope the winning tradition continues.
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