By Steve LaMontia, Director of Communications
The Buccaneers from Ulster, Ireland will be competing in the 35+ division at this year’s 30th anniversary edition of the MSBL World Series in Arizona. We are thrilled to have them join our ever-growing international field participating in our national tournaments and hope they enjoy themselves in the dry heat of Arizona while playing on magnificent MLB spring training fields and stadiums. Manager Jon Carter played with the Ventura Dodgers in our World Series in 2015 and just like most of us, he was immediately hooked. He vowed on the spot to bring his mates to experience the event and after two years of organizing the details they are on their way!
Jon is the detail man for the team, which is doubly tough when you consider the task of finding players, collecting fees, coordinating travel arrangements for getting across the pond and ensuring a good time for all. Jon is hopeful that he will bring between 17 and 20 players to fill the bill.
Jon was kind enough to send us a short biography outlining his involvement with the baseball community in Northern Ireland, including helping the youngsters learn the game. Here are Jon’s comments:
Submitted by Jon Carter, manager Ulster Buccaneers
This will be the first time a team from Ireland and the United Kingdom will have entered the MSBL World Series. We hope there will be many local bars selling plenty of the black stuff for us!
I am a former pitcher for the Great Britain National Team and the now defunct Brighton Buccaneers Baseball Club, where I was fortunate enough to help the club win three National British Baseball titles and were also European Cup finalists.
I moved from the south of England to Ireland where I lived for almost ten years. I have since moved back to my home town of Tonbridge, Kent in the Garden of England, just south of London. In my time in Ireland I re-established the Belfast Northstars, after taking over the general manager and head coach role, from a single team about to fold due to lack of players, to two teams. We then expanded more to create the Ulster Buccaneers Baseball & Softball Club. Both the Buccaneers and Northstars play in the All Ireland League as separate entities.
I was the founder of ‘Baseball/Softball Academy Ireland’ working with the youth in and around Belfast, particularly within interface areas, uniting Catholic and Protestant children through baseball.
I assisted in the building of the first designated baseball facility in the North of Ireland, Hydebank Baseball Field. Before the building of this facility we had to play off of soccer fields, having to erect a temporary back stop and home run fencing before and after every game.
The playing conditions in Ireland are not ideal, in fact there are only four purpose built baseball diamonds on the whole Island! Baseball is very much under the radar here having to compete with GAA sports, soccer and rugby, but we do not let that stop us. With the very limited resources and playing facilities here we still have a team ranked 38th in the whole of Europe, the Dublin City Hurricanes.
I was fortunate enough to be included to the roster of the Ventura Dodgers and played in the World Series in October 2015 in the 35+ bracket. I was blown away by the facilities and standard that I made it my mission to encourage as many players from Ireland and the United Kingdom to join the Ulster Buccaneers and make the trip to the MSBL World Series in 2017.
The majority of the Bucs will be players from Ireland and United Kingdom along with a few guys I know stateside. We also have a former Big Leaguer joining the roster, Simon Pond. I am confident the Bucs will ‘hold our own’ in the World Series. You never know, we may even take a few scalps home to the Emerald Isle!