Tyrus Hall of Victoria looked ready in red. That could bode well in the future for baseball in this country.
The U.S. won the recent seven-game U-18 Friendship Series against Canada 5-1-1 in Florida (a rain-shortened 1-1 game was called in the seventh inning to account for the tie). Hall gave Greg Hamilton, coach of the junior national team and director of men’s national teams for Baseball Canada, plenty to think about as he plans long term for when the sport is expected to return to the Olympics in 2028 at Los Angeles.
Hall had hits in four of the seven games as DH despite an injury to his throwing arm that limited him to one infield start at shortstop. His output included two runs batted in on a second-inning triple in Canada’s lone 3-2 victory over the Americans.
“It was an honour to represent my country and I learned so much,” said Hall.
“Greg Hamilton is so full of tips and knowledge and teaches you to be more aware in every game situation.”
Hall was among three Islanders invited to the 37-player Canadian tryout camp in Ajax, Ont., along with Victoria Eagles teammate and six-foot-six pitcher/slugger Oliver Mabee and Anson McGorman out of the Parksville Royals, a six-foot-two, 200-pound pitcher committed to NCAA Div. 1 Sacramento State. McGorman was a top-15 ranked Canadian for the 2021 MLB draft but not selected. Mabee’s and Hall’s draft year is 2022.
Hall made the team chosen to travel to Florida for the Friendship Series this month. With the postponement of the 2021 U-18 Baseball World Cup in Sarasota and Bradenton, Florida, to 2022, the Friendship Series was used as one of the final tune-up events for the 2003-born age group.
Hall has had plenty of role models in sports. Dad Marty Hall was drafted by the Oakland A’s and made it to Double-A as a pro pitcher and mother Trawala Whitehouse was a championship wrestler and a soccer player in high school. Uncle Dounia Whitehouse played in the CFL for the Edmonton Eskimos. Tyrus’ brother Atlas St. Paul Butler Hall played basketball at Oak Bay and then for MacEwan University in U Sports and sister Taleesha was an Oak Bay volleyball player waiting for Camosun volleyball to begin again. Grandmother Pat Hall, a legendary builder in Island softball and field hockey, is being inducted into the Victoria Sports Hall of Fame this fall with the Class of 2021.
“I learned a lot about baseball being around my dad,” said the younger Hall.
“He helped train a lot of Island pitchers like [Boston Red Sox hurler] Nick Pivetta.”
The younger Hall was an all-rounder but the diamond beckoned most: “I played everything growing up — soccer, basketball, lacrosse, track and field — but I found my passion with baseball.”
Hall and Mabee led the Victoria Eagles to the championship game of the 2021 B.C. Premier Baseball League season and the runner-up placing behind the Langley Blaze. The BCPBL has an alumni list that includes current or former MLB players Pivetta from the Eagles, Michael Saunders and Rich Harden from the Victoria Mariners, James Paxton, Tyler O’Neill, Ryan Dempster, Jeff Francis, Brett Lawrie, Adam Loewen, Justin Morneau and Hall of Famer Larry Walker.
“It’s a very competitive league and I love playing in the BCPBL, especially knowing its great history,” said Hall.
The Eagles are a young group, including Hall and Mabee in Grade 12 at Oak Bay High, and they will be back with the Eagles next season.
“We have been playing together as a core group for three years and have such great chemistry,” said Hall.
That was again evident as the Eagles won the Zack Downey Tournament last weekend at Layritz Park even with Hall missing due to his national junior team commitments.
“Our goal is to win the BCPBL championship next year,” said Hall.
Beyond that, Hall is now on the list of players looking to be representing Canada on the road to Los Angeles 2028 (baseball was in Tokyo 2020 but is not included for Paris 2024).
“Since we haven’t had the ability to operate our program in-person since March 2020, our coaching staff [used the Friendship Tournament as an] opportunity that will pave the way for our future national team,” said Hamilton, in a statement.