As told to Dr. Rug by the people who lived it
The 2021 Territorial Fastball Championships were far from ordinary for a number of reasons. The Territory, along with the rest of the country and the world, was slowly emerging from the COVID-19 pandemic and all the chaos that had entailed. The fastball world was by no means immune to the effects of the pandemic. The 2020 Territorials had been cancelled, the 2021 season was being played with pandemic restrictions, and the future remained uncertain. With this cloud hanging over the event, much like the literal thunderclouds that were converging, seven intrepid teams descended on Hay River for the 2021 tournament.
The Hay River Heat and Pirates were looking to ride the hometown advantage and crowd to victory. The Fort Simpson Twins were improving more and more with each passing day, they were full of confidence after their recent exhibition matches against Hay River and had some key call-ups from Inuvik suiting up for them. The Yellowknife squads all had title hopes. The Trappers and Giants were both technically the defending Territorial champions as they had combined as the Crappers under the Cardinals colours to win the 2019 title (yes, I know that sentence looks like it doesn’t make any sense but trust me, it does). The Rockies were confident that the ringers they had picked up would make a difference. And the Prospectors were once again ready to ride Steve’s arm to a title. There were realistic expectations from 4 or 5 teams that they had a shot at the title if the bounces went their way.
The tournament got off to an inauspicious start, the Friday night forecast was calling for thunder, lightning, rain, and possibly hail. Organizers scrambled to get the scheduled games in if at all possible. That’s where we’ll pick up the story as we hear directly from the folks involved in that crazy weekend.
Riis Schaub (Hard working Town employee and field maintainer) – We put in a shift that day. We were working hard for at least 2, maybe even 3 hours. Tarps were on the field, the shopvac had sucked up the standing water, the turface was spread. The fields were as good as they were going to get so I hit the golf course at about 4:15 to work on my 280-yard drives.
Stephane Millette (Town of Hay River Rec Tyrant) – Ces terrains sont mes bébés. Bien sûr, ils étaient dans le meilleur état possible.
Terry Rowe (Head tournament organizer, Hay River Pirates pitcher) – The rain was holding off Friday afternoon as we tried to get the teams to start early in the hope that we could play. We asked the Prospectors and Heat to show up early for their 6:30 gametime and get started as quickly as possible.
Keith Pettipas (Hay River Heat catcher) – Our fearless leader Boyce sent out a last-minute text trying to get the game started at 6 so I was there by 5:30. We had three guys in our dugout. Three??!!? Even Boyce himself didn’t show up until 6:15. What the f*ck??? This was not a winning mindset.
Steve Thomas (Prospectors Captain and Ace) – Our team was there and ready to start by 5:50, the Heat were nowhere to be found. It was almost like they were waiting on the rain to roll in and cancel the game. Quite frankly, I think they were a little bit scared.
Mike Auge (Hay River Heat DP) – Scared? No, we weren’t scared. You have to understand the Hay River mindset, in Hay River if you’re 10 minutes late to an appointment you’re 20 minutes early. That’s how time works in Hay River.
Rob Johnson (Umpire in Chief) – Us umps were sitting in trailer enjoying a pre-game beverage, I have no idea what players were there ready to play at what time. We were planning on rolling out to the field at precisely 6:45 to start the game, as is our modus operandi for any scheduled 6:15 start time.
The raindrops started falling shortly after 6:00 but at first it was just a light drizzle. Teams and organizers were still hopeful that the rain would pass and the games would be a go.
Terry Rowe – We started removing the outer tarps, the rain was light, and the hopes were that the worst of it would pass us by and move out to the lake.
Ang Carter (Beer Gardens organizer/operator) – We opened the beer gardens as scheduled, the rain wasn’t too bad at first and we were hoping that we’d have some good sales given that it was the home teams’ opening games. Our expectations were high considering the crowd that was already forming in the beer gardens at 6. Granted, most of the crowd was Heat players, but it was still a positive sign.
Keith Pettipas – At about 6:01 I just said “f*ck this” and headed into the beer gardens to loosen up and clear my head. I think our team finally started to trickle in after that, I know Webby [Terry Webster] showed up in the gardens looking for a rum shortly after I got there. I was still hopeful that we’d be playing shortly but the lack of commitment by my teammates had put me in the wrong frame of mind.
Steve Thomas – I was able to get in my typical 17-minute, 27-second pregame routine so I was ready to go. The arm was loose and I was ready to quickly mow through the hometown Heat.
Stephen Robertson (Prospector’s catcher, curling legend, part-time model, all around good guy) – Steve was ready to go. That warm-up was probably the best he threw all weekend, and I was catching the darts like Neo picking bullets from the air in the Matrix. Steve Squared (TM pending) was on top of their game, Steve Squared (TM pending) was ready for a Territorial title.
Dustin Hauber (Prospector outfielder and rising star) – This was the one game I’d been looking forward to coming into the weekend. I’d heard a rumour that Dr. Rug would be out scouting the game. For years I’d been trying to make it onto his legendary Player Trade Value Rankings, this was my opportunity to impress.
Luke Pettipas (the Shohei Ohtani of the Hay River Heat) – I’m always ready to go, that night was no exception. I’ll be honest though, at the time I was in a new relationship and once the rain started falling I was looking for any opportunity to ditch out and meet up with the lady-friend. It was a Friday night after all.
As the rain continued to fall, lightning strikes hit in the distance. Players, fans, umpires, and workers all settled in for the long haul to see if the rain would pass and if the games would be a go. At 6:45 the tarps were still on the field and first pitch was nowhere in sight.
Rob Johnson – As I was halfway through my third pregame beverage I heard thunder somewhere off in the distance so I did what any reasonable person would do, I pushed the games back 30 minutes and kicked my feet up.
Ang Carter – There was quite the crew of Heat players now huddled under the one tent that we had in the beer gardens. It wasn’t looking hopeful for games, but at least we were bringing in a little bit of cash. It was great scheduling to have the Heat guys there during the rain delay, without them we wouldn’t have made any sales. The Prospector guys were just sitting over in their dugout twiddling their thumbs.
Jason Melanson (Prospectors non-Steve leader) – Would we have liked to have headed over to the beer gardens for a beverage? Sure, we would have. But that’s just not how things work when you play with Steve. Sometimes sacrifices need to be made when you’re chasing down championships.
Jeff Boyce (Heat Captain) – Every time we heard another clap of thunder the umps pushed the game back another half hour, so we ordered another round. That’s the Heat way.
Luke Pettipas – The lightning was getting closer and the rain was getting heavier, I was out of there early and never looked back.
Ang Carter – Eventually, as the rain picked up, the Heat players made the transition from the tent to inside the beer shack where there was a little more cover. There were easily a half dozen of us in there trying to stay dry and debating how many rounds before we closed up shop and headed home.
Keith Pettipas – The lightning was getting closer and closer but the beers were flowing so we all took shelter in beer shed. Looking back, that might not have been the best option.
Ang Carter – I remember someone saying, “I’m standing between the two tallest guys here, I’m safe from the lightning.” I just shook my head. We were all standing in a metal seacan container, at that point height was not going to be a factor if lightning struck.
Kenny Power (Not that Kenny Powers but there are similarities) – Once the rain really started picking up, I was packing up my gear in the Heat dugout getting ready to leave. That was when the closest lightning bolt struck. It was crazy, you could feel the dugout shake. It was intense! Huddling together in a metal container was not the smartest decision at that point, I’m not sure what those guys were thinking. I grabbed my stuff and headed home.
Ang Carter – That lightning strike was way too close for comfort. There were more than a few screams in the beer shed and I think Ashton may have pissed himself a little. We quickly closed up shop for the night and kicked everyone out. It was a pretty poor showing for a Friday night in the garden but we still made $180 in profit thanks to the Heat.
Terry Rowe – By no means was it an easy decision to cancel the games on Friday night, but the safety of our beer gardens patrons is our top priority. Oh, and the players. Plus, the Doghouse was open so I encouraged everyone to head over there for drinks. The night was young and the Doghouse is always the place to be in Hay River. Have you seen the new menu? Have you tested out Caesar Saturdays? Come by for a drink, first round’s on me.
The Friday night games were cancelled and organizers scrambled to figure out how they’d fit them back into the schedule. The weather was forecast to clear up overnight but much like its namesake, Glenn Smith Field was sloppy and unplayable, the rest of the tournament would have to take place on just one field. The initial hope was that games would move quickly on Saturday and they could get the postponed ones in Saturday evening. If that didn’t work, they decided that games would start at 8:00am on Sunday morning with the two cancelled Friday night games and continue until a champion was crowned.
Terry Rowe – The games proceed as scheduled throughout the day on Saturday, we hoped for maybe a mercy or two to speed things up a little and allow us to fit in the cancelled games but it was not to be.
Dick Johnstone (Pirates Clean-up Hitter) – The Pirates had a team meeting Friday night at the Doghouse and it really set the stage for the rest of the weekend. Sure, we may have lost to the Giants in our only game Saturday but Sunday was set to be our day.
Gordie Thompson (Fort Simpson Twins Captain and Motivator) – It was an awesome day. We played great and the games were a blast. Thanks to all the Inuvik boys for jumping on the Twins and making us competitive!!
Alex Brockman (Aspiring Journalist and Giants Player/Coach) – We took care of business on the field, in the beer gardens, and at the campgrounds. Our bats were hotter than a Lorne Special from Bruno’s, our defense was smoother than Stu’s morning coffee, and our pitching was mowing down the opposition like Andy crushing a feed of chicken wings. We didn’t think anything could ruin our good mood.
Tanya Ruben (Lyndon Daniels #1 Fan) – Heat ’er up!!!!
Scott Bolt (Heat CF and Leadoff Hitter) – I’m not sure if I got out at all on Saturday? I think I batted a thousand and probably stole 2 or 3 bases on top of that. There’s a reason I’m the first name on the line-up card and the Yellowknife teams found that out on Saturday.
Reilly MacNeil (Trappers’ 1st Baseperson and only MacNeil sibling good enough to still be playing in the league) – It was a pretty chill Saturday that’s for sure, we only had one game. I spent most of the day crushing coolers, watching the rest of the action, and chirping the locals.
Carter Stirling (Rockies DH) – The day rolled along smoothly despite the Friday night issues. My bat was on that day, I even almost had an extra-base hit.
Dustin Hauber – Despite my disappointment from the Friday cancellation, myself and the rest of the Prospectors were good to go on Saturday. Everyone was healthy, no injuries at all to report.
Despite Dustin’s assertation, rumours were swirling that Prospector Ace, Steve Thomas had suffered a hand injury around the campfire on Friday night.
Unnamed Source (Unnamed Team) – You didn’t hear this from me, but my understanding is that Steve had burnt his pitching hand on a cast iron frying pan late Friday night.
Chad Hinchey (Rockies #2 Pitcher) – We all heard the rumours about Steve and the mysterious frying pan. Judging by how he pitched Saturday, I don’t think there was any truth to them.
Aaron Plotner (Rockies Ace) – Steve pitched well enough on Saturday, it certainly didn’t look like he was battling any injury. His change-up wasn’t as awe-inspiring as mine was but his rise and curve still had a little bit of movement.
Dennis Marchiori (Rob Johnson-in-training) – Steve is an umpire, as per the umpire code, if he says there was no injury then I’ve got his back, there was no injury.
Steve Thomas – Can anyone really say what is and what isn’t an injury and how an injury may or may not affect one’s pitching ability? I’m don’t believe in excuses.
Does this mean you did injure your hand?
Steve Thomas – No comment.
Regardless of the true status of the league’s #1 pitcher, as the Heat rolled off the field late on Saturday evening after a hard-fought victory over the Rockies, the sun was setting, the skies were darkening, and it was obvious that no make-up games would be held that night. The Pirates (0-1) vs. Trappers (0-1) was now scheduled for 8am to determine who would finish 2nd and 3rd in pool A. Following that game, the Prospectors (2-0) vs. Heat (2-0) was scheduled to determine who would finish 1st and 2nd in Pool B. Despite an hour earlier start time for Sunday, the extra two games meant the finals would be pushed back to at least a 5:30pm start time, potentially later as there were no time limits in the semifinals and finals. Organizers were worried this could potentially even mean a Monday finish, something that no one wanted to see. Ideas to speed up Sunday were bantered around.
Jason Melanson – The majority of our team was in the beer gardens scouting out the Rockies and the Heat and enjoying the Hay River hospitality. In fact, we were enjoying the hospitality so much that none of us really wanted to head to bed early. That 9:30am game against the Heat was somewhat meaningless as we were both headed to the playoffs anyway, and really, who wants to get up that early if you don’t have to? That’s when it hit us, why bother playing the game, let’s decide a winner here in the beer gardens.
Jon Whitford (Prospector’s Allstar 1st Baseman) – The original idea was to challenge the Heat to a flip cup competition. I’ve been practicing for years, honing my chugging and cup flipping skills for just this opportunity. Unfortunately, the Heat wouldn’t agree to that challenge.
Mike Auge (Solo silver medalist in the epic 2011 GAP Tournament Flip Cup Championships) – I had no doubt that I was the best flip cup player there and Kenny would no doubt have been an asset, but look at the rest of our squad, Boyce and Pettipas had no idea what the game was, and Webby was more likely to pour a rum and coke in the solo cup than to flip it properly. No, flip cup was not the game of choice for the Heat.
Terry Webster – What the heck is flip cup?
Jeff Boyce – Someone tried to explain the game to me but there was no way we were doing that.
Glenn Smith (Hay River Heat captain and the man responsible for the unplayable Glenn Smith Field) – Flip cup, boat race, coin flip, rock/paper/scissors, cowboy/ninja/bear… whatever. It didn’t matter at all to me. Worst case scenario is we’re playing the Pirates in the quarterfinals. We’re clearly the superior Hay River team, I don’t think the Pirates have beaten us in a meaningful game since their inception. The result of our game against the Prospectors was largely irrelevant given that perspective, either way we were going to be playing in the semifinals.
Brent Connell (Prospectors Ringer) – I’ll be honest, I was nowhere around when this all went down, I was out enjoying the famous HR nightlife.
Dustin Hauber – The Heat were smart to turn down the flip cup challenge, we would have crushed them no doubt. To tell you the truth, a coin toss was a much fairer approach so most of the squad was agreeable. It was a fair method of deciding the game and had nothing to do with some non-existent injury.
Jason Melanson – We were fine with going with a coin toss instead of the flip cup, we just had to run it by Steve to make sure he was okay with it. We have to run everything by Steve, but that’s just how things work when you play with Steve. I called him and we got the go-ahead for the coin toss.
The teams agreed upon a best of three coin toss to determine which team would get credit for the win in their rained out Friday night game. The Prospectors would flip the coin first with the Heat calling it, the Heat would flip it in round 2 with the Prospectors calling it, and if a third flip was needed, an impartial bystander would do the honours.
Jeff Boyce – Once we switched to a coin toss, I was confident. It took me back to my teenage years and the classic Italy vs. Soviet Union semi-final of Euro ’68. As I’m sure you’re all aware, Italy advanced to the finals (and went on to win) thanks to the clutch coin toss call by Giacinto Facchetti. That was such a legendary moment in the history of sports and it inspired me, I knew that this was my chance to be just like my hero, Facchetti.
Jon Whitford – This was so exciting, it was a once-in-a-lifetime event, bearing witness to a flip-off was every ball player’s dream. Naturally I had to facetime my mom so she could watch along with me.
Glenn Smith – Webby, Rug, and I briefly discussed our strategy for the coin toss but with the confidence that Jeff was exuding, we decided our best bet to start was to leave it in his hands. He was going on about some ancient Italian philosopher or soccer player or something but he seemed like he knew what he was doing.
Jason Melanson – At all of our Prospectors’ practices leading up to the tournament I had been the luckiest coin flipper, so it fell on me to toss the coin for round 1.
The first flip soared through the air as Jeff Boyce let out a resounding “Tails” call. Two bounces, a short roll, and a flop down later and the Heat were ahead 1-0.
Jason Melanson – I still feel like I let my team down. I should have put a half a flip more effort into the toss.
Jeff Boyce – I did what I needed to in the first toss, but this wasn’t your run-of-the-mill one-and-done flip-off, this was a tournament style best of three. It was a long way from being over.
Jon Whitford – My mom was devastated when it came up tails, but I reassured her that the Prospectors would bounce back for the second toss.
Dustin Hauber – After we fell down 1-0 I took Melanson aside for a drink and discussed our strategy for the second toss. Really, I wanted to give him some time to clear his mind and focus, there was still a good chance we could win this and we needed Jason at his best.
Jason Melanson – Yeah, I was a little flustered by the result of the first toss and I give Dustin all the credit in the world for giving me a little breather before round two. Without that break there’s a good chance we lose 2-0.
Mike Auge – I was pushing the guys to go straight into the second toss since we were riding high after flip #1. The beer break that the Prospectors took was a veteran move. Big respect to that.
Jason Melanson – After I’d calmed down and chugged half a Coors Light I was ready to make amends. I knew the coin would bounce back, just like I had, so Heads was the call to make.
Jeff Boyce – I may have been a tad overconfident after the first flip. I didn’t set my feet properly and I flipped the coin onto a down slope where we all know anything can happen. I should have focused on the fundamentals of coin tossing but the adrenaline and the rum were affecting my judgment.
The second toss took a winding route down a side slope in the beer gardens before coming to rest with the lovely face of the queen looking upwards. Heads was the right call to make and things were now all tied up.
Ang Carter – My pretournament umpire training did not teach me a single thing about coin flips to determine winners but from a beer gardens perspective, the added drama and prolonged coin tosses helped out a lot with our sales. It’s unfortunate that we had to do last call when we did because people were tying into one.
Gavin McAndrews (Random Prospectors Non-Steve Player) – After that second toss, we were right back in it, all tied up. Time for another round of drinks!!
Glenn Smith – The second flip was a setback to be sure, but like I mentioned earlier, worst case scenario was a match-up with the Pirates so it was all sunshine and roses to us.
With the flip-off tied at one win a piece, the participants turned to a neutral observer to flip the coin for the third and deciding flip.
Cody Townend (Impartial Bystander) – Of course I was in the beer gardens. The celebration from our victory in the Broken Driver Classic the weekend before was still ongoing a week later as it deserved to be. If you want to tell the story of a classic sporting event, you should be relaying the tale of the BDC victory!
Back to the coin toss?
Yes, I quickly stepped forward when they asked for an impartial volunteer to flip the coin for round 3. Sure, some of the Heat players may have been my winning teammates from the BDC but I would still consider myself impartial. I flipped the coin as well as I could and I let gravity take over to decide a winner. I was happy to be a part of such a historic process.
Mike Auge – The Heat analytics department does their homework, there’s always been a coin toss tiebreaker way down the list of tiebreakers so we prepare for every eventuality. The coin toss being one of those. What did the analytics tell us? The key piece of information that we took on coin tosses was that in the history of Super Bowl coin tosses (the most famous and pressure-filled of all coin tosses) Tails had won 29 times to Heads 26 times. The numbers made the choice obvious for the third toss.
Terry Webster – My thought for toss three was a classic saying from back on the rock regarding coin flips, “head in the morning, tail at night”… it was night so we had to go tails.
Jeff Boyce – When we were down to the third toss and we had the option to make the call there was never a doubt in my mind. As Facchetti did in ’68, I obviously called tails with the utmost confidence.
Jason Melanson – The coin actually ended up lodged up against a blade of grass so it wasn’t even lying flat. It was probably only about 55% to the Tails side but being the honest man that I am, I had to give it to them.
Keith Pettipas – The beers were flowing nicely that night, I don’t recall much of what happened during the tosses but when I heard we didn’t have to play until 2 the next day I knew that everything turned out exactly as it should. Time for another round followed by a hot tub at Glenn and Boyce’s place.
Tanya Ruben (Lyndon Daniels #1 Fan) – Heat ’er up!!!!
As the third coin toss came up tails, the Heat took the win. The two teams involved were both accepting of the result and ready to make a run at the title. The organizers were happy that there was one less game to squeeze in on Sunday. The beer gardens staff was excited that this likely meant more sales that night. Everyone was happy with the result… or so they thought.
Garrett Hinchey (Giants Captain) – Our entire team was back at the campgrounds not supporting the tournament beer gardens but instead partaking in some team bonding sessions and prepping for a big day of games tomorrow. Word slowly filtered in through social media and text messages about this “coin toss” that had taken place between the Heat and Prospectors. To say that our team was a little befuddled that this had been allowed to happen would be an understatement.
Ryan Nichols (Giants SS and former NWT 100m Sprint Senior Champion) – It was horseshit. And they knew it.
Lorne Gerwing (Giants Chef) – I had prepared a feast for the boys for Saturday night, this atrocity soured the taste.
Ryan Thiel (Journeyman Outfielder) – I was playing on my 10th team in the last 7 years, so I didn’t want to be overstepping any boundaries, but I must admit that I did let a few expletives fly when I heard the news.
Chris Kelln (Current Giants 2B Gold Glover) – Is this really how they do things in Hay River? I mean sure, we’d had to make changes to the schedule due to rain in Yellowknife in years past, including randomly drawing names out of a hat on a Saturday night, but a coin toss is crossing the line. You’re taking things too far.
Susanne Robinson (#1 Fan, original member of the Dirty Mitts) – I was sitting around my place with the best Trappers players when my phone started exploding. We’d heard about the coin toss and didn’t give it much thought, then the texts began pouring in from the Giants. The were livid.
Alex Brockman – I understand why the guys were upset. Skipping that game meant one less game that both those teams had to play, it meant we would be facing our nemesis, the Prospectors in the semi-finals, and it meant that Rug’s prediction that we’d be knocked out of the tournament by the Prospectors before facing the Heat in the playoffs was one step closer to fruition. That’s a lot of unexpected news to take in when you’re 14 drinks and 37 chicken wings deep on a Saturday night.
Chris Cahoon (Giants Catcher, former 2B Gold Glover) – I was among the minority in that I didn’t think it was too big of a deal initially… but the next morning the heart and soul of our team found out and he took it personally. Couvrette is known as “Vet” because of the veteran leadership he brings to our clubhouse and the calming influence he has over our young players. When he took offense to this coin toss I started to realize that maybe it wasn’t right.
Brian “The Vet” Couvrette (Giants Clubhouse Leader, self-proclaimed All-Star) – That was bullshit to its finest. I was in bed early Saturday night as per usual (I like to set an example for the impressionable younger players) so I didn’t find out until the morning while I was doing my stretching and early morning 5K jog to prepare for the day. Talk about a terrible way to start a championship Sunday.
Ryan Nichols – The best teams were meeting in the semis. Sure it was good for the River, but it was not good for ball.
Brian Couvrette – I didn’t care who we played, let’s talk about integrity.
Matthew Walker (Giants Defensive Specialist) – If anyone knows about integrity, it’s the Vet. That guy personifies sportsmanship. He is the most humble, down-to-earth, beloved player in the YK Fastball League, if he’s questioning your integrity, there’s something wrong with you.
Brent Hinchey (1979 Canadian Junior Men’s Fastball Silver Medalist) – I’ve been around the game a long time and I’ve seen my share of players that play the game the right way. Couvrette is near the top of the list. Respectful, sportsmanlike, hard-working, always ready to pass the credit to a teammate… there’s no one in the league today that is looked up to more than Brian. If he wants to talk about integrity, you best listen.
Rob Johnson – In all my years umping, I don’t think I’ve ever had a disagreement with Couvrette… and if I did, I’m sure I was in the wrong. Sometimes around the umpire shack we even refer to him as Mr. Integrity.
Terry Rowe – When I found out on Sunday morning that Couvrette disagreed with the decision I certainly started to doubt myself, but by that point it was too late. The quarterfinals were underway and there was no turning back.
Sunday rolled around with one less game to play but a champion still to be decided. The other rained out Friday game kicked off the day at 8:00am with the Trappers beating the Pirates. The Pirates played again immediately following this in a quarterfinal game and were shut down by Steve and the Prospectors. After the Trappers survived a scare from the Rockies in the other quarterfinal game the semis were set, Prospectors vs. Giants in semi #1 and Trappers vs. Heat in semi #2.
Dick Johnstone – Sunday was not our day.
Alex Brockman – We arrived at the field in time to catch the end of the Trappers/Rockies games and you could tell that most of our team was still steaming. They were legitimately upset that we had to play the Prospectors in the semi-finals instead of the finals.
Jason Melanson – Steve had rolled over the Pirates in the early game but he wanted to save his arm for the final, so we rolled the dice with Tinger against the Giants. Should we have gone with Steve? In hindsight it’s easy to say that maybe we should have. But his call was to start Tinger and when he makes a call you go with it, that’s just how things work when you play with Steve.
Steve Thomas – We’d picked up Tingmiak for a reason, he gave us the depth we needed on the mound to survive a three game Sunday which was what we were facing. It was never in question who would start the semi-finals.
Ryan Nichols – We came flying out of the gates in that semi-final, our frustration from the ridiculous coin toss was taken out on the balls.
Glen Tingmiak started the game for the Prospectors but was not on top of his game. The Giants jumped out to a 7-0 lead after one inning of play and Glen had been replaced by Steve Thomas. The pitching change gave the Prospectors a small measure of confidence and they fought back valiantly throughout the game and finally tied it up at 9-9 in the top of the 7th, leading to a dramatic bottom half of the inning.
Garrett Hinchey – We knew we had to do anything possible to score that winning run. Steve had shut us down pretty well since entering the game but we only needed to scrape out one run to move on.
Steve Robertson – Once Steve Squared (TM pending) got rolling in that final we knew we had a shot at the comeback. Our bats chipped away at the lead and we had a shot to win. We’re the Prospectors, we never give up, we never back down.
Brian Couvrette – The integrity of the entire sport was at stake. We knew we had to win.
With two outs and a runner on third, Brent Hinchey came through with a looper to right to drive in Jaden for the winning run for the Giants, they were on to the final.
Jaden Beck (former 6th place finisher in the Canadian Championship Dog Derby) – Once I got on base it was over. I was scoring that run even if I had to steal all three bases.
Brent Hinchey – Those are the moments you live for, a chance to make players like Brian proud to call you a teammate.
The Giants were on to the finals, the question remained, would they get a chance to knock off both teams that had offended them by taking part in a coin toss, or would the Trappers get a win over the Heat and make it an all Yellowknife final.
The Trappers vs. Heat semi-final could be a story all on its own. 3 hours, 36 total runs, an epic back and forth the details of which are too numerous to recount in this tale. In the end, the Trappers prevailed 19-17 and moved on to the finals.
However, after pulling out the win in the marathon battle against the Heat, the Trappers had to play back-to-back and had little left in the tank. The Giants cruised to a relatively easy victory to get their name engraved on the championship trophy. Garrett Hinchey took home the top pitcher award and the Trappers Devin Case received the MVP award.
Terry Rowe – We managed to get the tournament wrapped up before dark on Sunday night, I got to sit in the beer gardens drinking and heckling all day Sunday, and we made a little bit of cash in the beer gardens. All in all, I’d consider that a very successful Territorials.
Rob Johnson – There was a coin toss? Huh. All I remember is that we drank some beer, we blew some calls, we got paid. It was a typical Territorials all around for the umps.
Alex Brockman – We were fortunate to get the win, in a tournament with this many excellent teams, you always need a lucky bounce or two on the way to a title.
Steve Thomas – It was a tough break for the Prospectors, but if you play the game long enough, you’ll have to face your share of tough breaks. We were almost able to overcome it but came up just short.
Devin Case (Trappers SS, Tournament MVP) – All I know is I won tournament MVP and nobody’s asked me a single question about the tournament yet. A loonie is getting more airtime than the MVP. Ridiculous. I’m outta here.
Unbeknownst to the participants that Saturday, the fate of numerous teams hung in balance as a lucky loonie slowly descended to earth on a warm summer evening in the Hay River beer gardens. Who knows how differently history would look back on this tournament and everyone involved if that coin had rotated another 10 degrees.
Would the Heat have been in better shape on Sunday afternoon if they had a morning game against the Pirates to work out the kinks?
Would the Trappers have had more energy and a better chance in the final if they had played the Prospectors in the semi-final and had a quick, low-scoring affair instead of a 3-hour battle in the blazing sun?
Would the Prospectors have started Steve for the both semis and the finals if they had received the 1st place bye and hadn’t had to play a quarterfinal?
Would the Giants still have beaten the Prospectors if they had faced Steve for a full 7 innings and didn’t have an opportunity to jump out to a 7-0 lead before he entered the game?
Unlike the flip of a coin, these questions don’t have easy heads or tails answers. They will forever remain as the biggest question marks from a wild 2021 Fastball Territorials where the flip of a coin will be the everlasting legacy.
Jeff Boyce – Calling Tails was one of the greatest moments of my career. 10 years from now no one is going to remember who won the 2021 Territorials, but they’ll always remember the time that the Hay River Heat won the greatest coin toss in the history of the NWT.
Dr. Rug’s Disclaimer: Not all quotes in the preceding story are 100% accurate, some may have been embellished or fabricated for the purpose of storytelling.