When John McLean tossed out a line, trolling for a head coach for his baseball club, he was hoping to land someone familiar with these waters.
The co-owner of the still unnamed Victoria Baseball Club reeled in Dennis Rogers, the current head coach at Riverside Community College in California, who previously held down a two-year posting with the Vancouver Canadians in 2003-04.
I consider it an honour and a blessing to be here in Victoria, to be in any part of Canada, said Rogers, who was drafted and played briefly for the San Francisco Giants and has coached in the Pittsburgh Pirates and Oakland As organizations. At Riverside, hes led the Tigers to three state junior college championships.
The 60-year-old spoke of his time in Vancouver and how critical it is for his new West Coast League recruits to engage in the community, presenting clinics to minor ball players and developing an attachment to their summer homes.
Theyre going to understand where theyre at, that this is a special environment, a special place, and theyll hear that from me and my staff on a regular basis, stressed Rogers.
In a perfect world, three or four years from now, as this evolves, this will be a place where people want to migrate to theyll get in line.
Part of this experience is not only playing baseball but understanding the cultural difference in the opportunity they have, added Rogers, who is not new to constructing or rebuilding an organization.
Its not my first go-around as far as building a program from scratch, said Rogers, who had similar starts at Riverside City College, at the high school level and at Cal State Fullerton. With that, the players become important, but the culture and how you operate becomes more important.
Rogers will be joined by Bob Miller, currently of Cuesta College in California (who also coached in the Alaska Collegiate League with the Anchorage Glacier Pilots, where his team won three Alaska Baseball championships), as co-coach.
Im really excited about our selection, McLean said of the hiring. Its taken us a bit of time. We worked hard at finding the right type of person to come in and help us with the program.
We wanted a leader, we wanted a mentor, we wanted somebody who had experience at all levels of baseball, but particularly had very strong connections into the college programs in the United States and Canada.
Rogers and the staff have already identified potential Division 1 players for the team, which will begin play next summer.
Our whole agenda is to build a culture that will sustain over a period of time, said Rogers. Its not a one-year venture. We want something that we will be proud of as an organization, the city will be proud of, and have people wanting to migrate to the ballpark.
The roster will eventually include a number of Canadians.
Were going to look at everybody. We want a Canadian flavour, said Rogers.
EXTRA INNINGS: According to general manager Holly Jones, a team name and logo is expected by end of the month or early October. The team is accepting submissions online at victoriabaseballclub.com . . . The Victoria club will begin its inaugural season at Royal Athletic Park in June of 2013 and will play 27 home games and 27 away games. Ticket information will be announced in the coming months.
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