Joey Votto, the Cincinnati Reds’ first baseman and 2010 National League MVP, credits his past teammates and coaches with the Etobicoke Rangers baseball club for some of his current success.
“My teammates were always a challenge to me because I was never the best player,” said Votto, who played for the Rangers throughout high school.
“I believe I would have been successful regardless, but I would be lying if I said I would have had the same opportunities with another club.”
The club was created in 1978 and is part of the Etobicoke Baseball Association, developed in the early 1950’s to provide an elite baseball league for players in the area.
Steve Breitner, a Ranger coach who played for the Detroit Tigers’ single A affiliate, said his team provides the proper instruction to help players develop.
“We have some terrific coaches,” said Breitner. “We have coaches that have played at the highest level and have the experience to train these young boys to become the best ball players they can.”
But, Breitner added, “The goal is to have the kids in the Rangers program stay in the Rangers program and have them attract more kids.”
Bob Smyth, founder of the Rangers, said the success of the organization is due to its consistency.
“It wasn’t about winning, it was about developing better players and I think everyone involved really enjoyed what they were doing,” he said.
“It built itself up from there.”
Russ Hazen, 27, a fourth-year kinesiology student at Guelph-Humber and a pitcher for the senior team this past summer, said the league is quite competitive for Canadian baseball.
“I played elite ball. I played in the states so I played at a higher level,” he said. “But it’s actually competitive.”