The Milleteers Take A Year Away From PBL
Posted January 13, 2020
Surprising news hit the airwaves on Sunday night as the Leduc Milleteers announced that they would be seeking a leave of absence from the Powerline Baseball League for the 2020 season. The league hopes that the Milleteers will return in 2021, giving the team a year to address player recruitment concerns that hampered them in 2020.
The Leduc Milleteers entered the Powerline Baseball League in 2008 and finished in third place with a 9-5 record earning them a first round playoff series against the eventual PBL Champion Bardo Athletics. The following season the Milleteers would build themselves into a champion as their dynasty would begin with the first of five consecutive PBL Championships, the final one coming in 2013. The Milleteers would struggle to regain their playoff success starting in the 2014 season as they would be swept by the Ryley Rebels, fail to make the playoffs in 2015 and 2016 and would be swept by the Rosalind Athletics in the 2017 playoffs.
Kevin Doyle delivers a pitch for the Milleteers (2012)
Fans would have to wait nearly five seasons between their last playoff win, the 2013 PBL Championship Series game two win over the Holden Blue Jays on August 1, 2013 and their game one win over the Rosalind Athletics in the 2018 PBL Semi-Final Series on July 12, 2018. That season the Milleteers would come within a few outs of their sixth PBL Championship, however the Armena Royals would battle back in game two and take the deciding game three a few days later.
The 2019 season became a struggle for the Milleteers as they would limp to a 4-11 record that included forfeits in their final two scheduled games against the Rosalind Athletics and the Camrose Roadrunners. Player recruitment and commitment for a variety of reasons often plague senior men’s baseball teams, and in 2019 the Leduc Milleteers experienced issues that many teams have faced and will no doubt face in the future. Note: the Milleteers may have finished with a 4-12 record as a rained out game versus the Armena Royals was not reported to end the season. It is unclear if this game was ever scheduled as it had no impact on the PBL Standings.
Trevor Pahl was one of only a small handful of Milleteers to play in all twelve seasons of the team (2019)
Despite the disappointing, hopefully temporary, end to their tenure in the league, the Milleteers were one of the most dominant teams in the Powerline Baseball League over the last decade. Five PBL Championships, three PBL Pennants and a 106-64-2 record that helped them reach the playoffs in nine of their twelve years in the league. The Milleteers, along with the Armena Royals, were the longest tenured team in the league. Both had been competing since 2008, the final year of the aluminum bat era in the Powerline Baseball League. The Milleteers provided the league with dominant pitching from the likes of Steve Pahl, Ryan Walker, Jon Anstey, Scott Peterson and Kirk Smith as well as the great hitters and tough outs in Murray and Allen Doyle, Del Kruk, Alex McIntosh, Greg Zilkie and Trevor Pahl over the years.
It is everyone’s hope that the Milleteers will find themselves back on the field in 2021 as Leduc is a vibrant community that includes the Leduc Minor Ball Association, a growing AA baseball association. Franchises like the Camrose Roadrunners have taken a year or two off here and there, most recently in 2010, before returning to the league with a re-tooled roster. Other teams like the Armena Royals, Camrose Axemen, Holden Blue Jays, Ryley Rebels, and Viking Shamrocks all saw their franchises step away from the league for a period of time before returning as well.
The dynasty was complete with the Milleteers fifth PBL Championship (2013)
The loss of the Milleteers marks the second team south of Edmonton that the Powerline Baseball League has seen leave since 2016. Leading up to 2017 the Beaumont Angels announced that they would be stepping away from the league as the majority of their roster became unavailable. The league also lost the Sherwood Park Athletics last season after the team would play six games before folding mid-season due to roster commitment issues. The PBL has their work cut out for them to try and continue to operate in large centres like Leduc in the future but there are plenty of minor baseball associations in the immediate area that could hopefully be the starting point for future senior men’s teams. It currently looks like the league will be a seven team league featuring the Armena Royals, Camrose Axemen, Camrose Roadrunners, Edmonton Expos, Holden Blue Jays, Rosalind Athletics and Tofield Braves for the 2020 season if all expected teams are set to return in 2020.
Jon Anstey makes a play and throw to Murray Doyle (2014)
In the meantime it is expected that some former Leduc Milleteers players will be looking for a new team in 2020 as the PBL free agent period generally picks up around this time of year. Teams that are looking for players are encouraged to contact Milleteers player-manager Steve Pahl to connect with players looking for a new team.