Hope springs eternal, and the London Majors will embark on their 2019 season with hopes of winning the Intercounty Baseball League (IBL) championship – something the franchise hasn’t done since 1975. Will they win that elusive title this year? That will be up to the performance of a mixture of new and returning faces – as well as long-time manager, Roop Chanderdat.
The Majors have been successful recruiters of international talent over the last several years, and this past offseason was no different, as the team added some solid import players once again – including a trio of players from Venezuela. Luis Sayol, a catcher and third baseman, Luis Ramirez, a left-handed pitcher, and Kender Villegas, a righty-handed arm, will all join the Majors this summer looking to help the club win an IBL championship.
When the boys of summer take the field at historic Labatt Park this year, they’ll do so with several familiar faces, including long-time fan favourite Cleveland Brownlee, who will return for another year in the pinstripes. Last season, the DH/1B hit had a resurgent season, batting an impressive .324 with a team-best 12 home runs and 46 RBIs while playing all 36 regular season games.
Outfielder Byron Reichstein is also back, fresh off a 2018 season in which he hit .308 with 37 RBIs and a team-best 33 runs scored. Catcher/INF Mike Ambrose (.279, 26 RBIs) returns, as does OF/LHP Robert Doyle and Utilityman Even Britt. On the mound, right-hander Braeden Ferrington is back, joining RHP Owen Boon and LHP Marcus McEachran.
Among the new additions to the team is an exciting slugger, 1B/OF Josh Williams, who hit .333 with 6 home runs, 13 doubles and 30 RBIs in 37 games with the White Sands Pupfish of the Pecos League last summer. Other new faces include: LHP/1B/OF Ismael Pena, C Jonathan Thibodeau, Utilityman Jonathan DuForest, RHP Sean Hood-Tidman, RHP Matt Balkwill, and INF Steve Froese.
Chanderdat, the club’s GM and field manager, will guide the ship once again, as he has since 2006. The Majors’ winningest manager in franchise history (a record he broke in 2017), Chanderdat is closing in on an impressive 300 wins (he’ll enter the season with a 287-187 record).
Labatt Park will host plenty of great Intercounty baseball action this summer, but some key dates for fans will include a few long-time favourites. The home opener is set for Friday, May 10, the annual ‘Pack The Park’ contest is Sunday, June 16 (Fathers Day), and the Majors will once again play on Canada Day, July 1, where fans can stick around for a fireworks show.
Contributions by Roop Chanderdat and photos by Matt Hiscox Photography