The intoxicating aromas of hot dogs, fried onions and fresh-cut grass will greet sports fans who want to root, root, root for the home team as UBC's baseball team hits the diamond in the home opener at Nat Bailey Stadium on Friday, April 14 at 6 p.m.
Under the leadership of UBC alumnus and head coach Terry McKaig, the 35-man roster is set to slug it out with Tacoma's St. Martin's University in the first of 18 home games. The spring schedule of 57 games is part of UBC's drive to a national title in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics, a group of 240 American universities and colleges.
"We're the first Canadian team ever to be allowed to play in the US system for an American championship," says McKaig, who has led the team since it was revived in 1997 after a 33-year break in the action.
Not only are the T-Birds back, but they're back as a recognized varsity team with a home field at Nat Bailey Stadium. The team previously held club status.
The stadium at Little Mountain opened in June 1951 and is named after major supporter and Vancouver burger king Nat Bailey, founder of the White Spot chain of restaurants. It seats 6,500 fans and has been home to some of North America's baseball greats, including Chicago Cubs outfielder Sammy Sosa.
Since the season opener Feb. 14, the team has posted a 7-9 win/loss record on the road. UBC is competing in the Pacific Northwest Independent Conference which includes universities and colleges from California, Washington, Oregon and Idaho.
Starting pitchers are southpaw Jeff Francis, a first-year Science student and right-handers Duane Penner, a third-year Arts student, and Jeff Brewer who is in second-year Biochemistry.
"If people won't come to the ballpark you can't stop them," warned the ever-enigmatic baseball soothsayer Yogi Berra. Attendance for the 'Birds at Nat Bailey shouldn't be a problem, however, with free admission for UBC students and children and $3 tickets for general admission. Tickets are available at the stadium.
Check the Web site at www.athletics.ubc.ca/baseball/index.htm. Individuals wishing to support T-Birds baseball can contact Andrew Grant, fund-raising chair at (604) 331-5212.