A new field of dreams

TERRY JONES, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:29 AM ET

They're now the Edmonton Cracker Katz.

Actually, officially, they've become the Katz Baseball Corporation. And the plan is to get rid of the Cracker-Cats name and anything else tainted by the previous ownership as quickly as possible.

The good news was telegraphed months ago with the 'Goodbye Wing-Nuts' column in this space revealing that the then owners of Edmonton's Golden League team -- Dan Orlich and significant other Cruella de Ville -- had no remaining employees and had completely emptied their offices at Telus Field.

Yesterday, it was made official that Oilers owner Daryl Katz, also as previously reported here, had spent $400,000 in outbidding one other party in order to put the hockey team in the baseball business.

You might recall that Edmonton's football Eskimos previously abandoned the ball club when they turned traitor on their town and sold the Triple A Trappers to Nolan Ryan and his Texas partners for $10.4 million US.

NO FORGIVING

The Eskimos should never be forgiven for that, even if the Pacific Coast League did want them out in order to jettison the only team left in Canada.

Edmonton fans, who made the Trappers a success from beginning to end, drawing eight million fans over 24 seasons, deserved a fight instead of a flight and multi-million profit-taking by the non-profit community-owned football franchise.

That Katz isn't knocking on the door of Eskimos' CEO Rick LeLacheur and offering him $1 for the rights to return to the Trappers name is the first mistake the new owner is going to make.

LaForge says they've done focus group research which says the Trappers name doesn't have much marketability.

Bull Durham, I say!

Trappers says baseball. Trappers says professional. Trappers says come back to the ball park. Trappers is to minor league baseball what Oil Kings is to junior hockey.

Mind you, all they have to do to say come back to the ball park is put up a big sign saying "Under New Ownership."

The two American quacker-cats who owned and and ran Edmonton pro baseball into the ground were an embarrassment to our city. The average fan had taken the same attitude as this columnist and simply decided that if one ignored them long enough, they'd eventually go away.

This is the day!

The rap sheet of why those two are not worthy of owning a team representing our city is so long that they may have established minor league records for firing people.

The slapstick stunts happening down at Telus Field were truly laughable with those two cartoon characters in control.

But it wasn't funny. Getting rid of them, I maintained, would be addition by subtraction.

I was convinced Bruce Saville would put together a group in about five minutes , but apparently Saville and some of his friends from the Oilers ownership group moved aside when Katz decided he wanted in.

CLASS ACT

At least it's local ownership and an organization we can be proud of representing the city. A class act following a classless act, as I've maintained all along, is going to do very well in putting baseball back in vogue.

"I believe baseball is still ingrained in this community," said LaForge.

"We want to take this adventure. I love that ball park. I think there's been a baseball hole created here."

For LaForge, this is going back to where he came in. He was the Molson's man who backed the Mel Kowalchuk-led quest to bring AAA ball here with a sponsorship deal "because we wanted to sell beer in the summer."

LaForge remembers the way it was.

"Triple-A baseball hit here like a prairie schooner. It was huge.

" It was a shame Edmonton fell out of Triple A. When Edmonton pulled the plug, the screen went grey."

New ownership doesn't mean better baseball. But it does mean Edmonton fans can now go back to baseball.

I believe the thousands of baseball fans who have been boycotting the insane asylum Telus Field had become should make a commitment today to show up and fill the park on opening day-- if for no other reason than to provide a photo to send to Orlich and Cruella as one final boot in the butt.


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