Thoughts from a couple of Canadians in the Major Leagues

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To play baseball at a high level in the country of Canada, you have to love the sport. Here are some thoughts from San Diego Padres’ players Cal Quantrill and Josh Naylor on being Canadian and playing the game of baseball.

If you live in California and are a young aspiring baseball player, you have advantages in the game that others simply do not have when it comes to developing their skills.

The weather permits Californians to play the game year around, and there are literally baseball facilities all over the state. In a park, a school, a rec-center; somewhere, there is a backstop, a home plate and a pitcher’s mound just waiting to be utilized. Young players in the state of California have plenty of opportunities to improve their craft, and they can do it virtually 365 days a year.

In the country of Canada, these fields are few and far between. The opportunities just are not prevalent. It snows roughly 88 days per year in Canada. No matter what part of the country you live in, you will get snowfall. That is a guarantee. There will be a time of the year when playing the sport of baseball outside is not an option for the youth.

With several inside sporting options like the country’s national past time, hockey, most young athletic teenagers participate in stuff outside the game of baseball. In Canada, it takes a pure passion for a young man to play baseball the whole year. It takes a commitment from your family, and it takes a lot of hard work. “It (baseball) is growing at a tremendous pace. We are starting to steal some hockey and lacrosse players,” Cal Quantrill told East Village Times. The sport is becoming a favorite of the country, slowly but surely.

There are a total of 15 current major leaguers who are from Canada. The Padres have two on their active roster in Josh Naylor and Cal Quantrill. Both rookies have played together several times over the years, and their bond is genuine. “There are (Canadian) baseball players all over, but it is rare to have two on the same team at the big league level. It is really cool, and a rare opportunity,” Quantrill said. Naylor is 22 and from Mississauga, Ontario. Quantrill is the son of former major league Paul Quantrill and from Port Hope, Ontario.

Credit: Canadian Baseball Network

Each ballplayer is adapting to life in the major leagues. It is a process and a tough adjustment, but both men are undoubtedly aware of adversity. To play the game of baseball in Canada, you had to really love the game. “Americans get to play baseball year around. It is tough for Canada because we only really play in the summer.” Naylor explained. The commitment both men’s parents made to take them to practice and games was fierce. Quantrill spoke about the hour and a half drives just to go to practice at a suitable facility. These kids could not just walk across the street to play; they had to grind at an early age. “You only really pursued baseball in Canada if you truly loved it. You had to want to travel. You had to want to play on a team that is a couple of hours away,” Quantrill said informatively. At a very young age, both men showed great love for the sport, and you can be sure they will give their best effort every day. “If you were good, you did get opportunity, but it did separate the kids who wanted a future in the sport from those who were just playing it,” Quantrill said.

Naylor spoke about his travel to the United States and how that helped build recognition in the game. “Most of the larger club teams are getting into tournaments in the States now. They are exposing the players more now nationally, and that is awesome. When I played, I was always thankful to come to the States and play ball,” Naylor said. As a youngster, the first baseman was scouted and recognized for his skill. That led to his selection in the first round (11th overall) of the 2015 draft out of high school.

Being a Canadian ballplayer and in the Major Leagues is something to be proud of. Both men are not just content with making it to the majors; they want more out of their careers. They take pride in being role models for younger Canadians with aspirations of making it to the highest level of professional baseball. “I take great pride in representing my country in baseball. The state of baseball is growing in Canada. It is exciting to have all these new guys coming up,” Quantrill said. The game is growing in Canada as Major League Baseball tries to become a world sport. In time, both these Padres’ players could be great mentors for up and coming ballplayers from the north.

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