The list of Canada’s most influential people in baseball has been released by Hall-of-Fame journalist Bob Elliott, and it includes a number of Western Canadian Baseball League names.
Cracking the top 20 on the Canadian Baseball Network (CBN) list, as he has in previous years, was John Ircandia, the managing director of the Okotoks Dawgs.
Ircandia slotted in at No. 16 on the CBN list and Elliott commended his efforts in ensuring the WCBL forged ahead with a 2021 season by fielding two Dawgs squads – Red and Black – out of Okotoks during the summer. The article also recognized Ircandia’s generosity in donating $2,000 to rebuild the Abbotsford Cardinals flood-ravaged facilities. As well, it acknowledged the numerous Dawgs Academy graduates and WCBL alumni of the Okotoks Dawgs summer collegiate club who have gone on to do great things.
John’s son, Vincent Ircandia, is one of those grads. He made the list at No. 64 for his work as the founder and CEO of StellarAlgo, a data solutions provider in the sports and live entertainment industry. Vincent was an original member of the Dawgs when they played out of Calgary in the Western Major Baseball League (the predecessor of the WCBL).
Another Dawgs alum, Sammie Starr, came in at No. 96. The sure-handed shortstop, who suited up for Okotoks in 2009, is now an assistant coach with the University of British Columbia (UBC) Thunderbirds.
Greg Brons, the high performance director with Baseball Sask, appeared at No. 72 on the prestigious listing. Brons has worked with a number of successful WCBL players that were Major League Baseball (MLB) draft picks, including Swift Current 57’s pitcher Garrett Hawkins, Moose Jaw Miller Express hurler Logan Hofmann, and Regina Red Sox signee Thomas Ireland.
Les McTavish, who played with the Lethbridge Bulls before coaching them in the early 2000s, was No. 82 on Elliott’s list. The Vauxhall Academy coach has helped prepare a number of athletes for play in the WCBL and beyond. He also worked with Hawkins and Toronto Blue Jays draft pick Damiano Palmegiani, who suited up for the Bulls in 2018.
Stu Scheurwater, a Regina product who went from umpiring in the WCBL to making calls at the MLB level, found himself at 88th on the list.
Meanwhile, agent Michael Bonanno was given a ranking of No. 92. Bonanno’s clients include former Edmonton Prospects two-way star Erik Sabrowski and pitcher Andrew Case, who played for the Bulls in 2013.
Congratulations to all those hard-working individuals who were recognized by Elliott!