Story by Bruce Campbell – Okotoks Western Wheel
Perseverance and an absolute love for baseball and teaching helped a long-time Dawg receive the organization’s highest honour.
David Robb, who led the Dawgs to their first Western Major Baseball League title in 2004, was inducted into the Okotoks Dawgs Hall of Fame on Saturday at the team’s awards night and banquet at the Foothills Centennial Centre.
“Dave envisioned what it meant to be a Dawg even before there was a Dawgs program,” said the organization’s executive director John Ircandia. “There are hundreds of stories that illustrates the character, the integrity and the work ethic of David Robb.”
The 2018 inductee has been part of all four of the Dawgs’ championship years, first in Calgary in 2004 and then the three-year run from 2007-09. He is presently the bench coach for the College Dawgs.
Ircandia said Robb approaches the game with class and his decisions are based on the honour of the game.
“We are so fortunate to have him as a member of the Dawgs’ family and we are thrilled to have him in the hall of fame,” Ircandia said.
It was plenty of work that got the admittedly light-hitter Robb a roster spot on the Cal-State Fullerton Titans — which made the College World Series in 1975 with Robb — and then later induction into the Dawgs Hall of Fame. The hall of fame is an honour for doing a job he loves.
“I can speak for most coaches that you don’t go into coaching for the honours — the honour is to work with the kids,” Robb told a sold-out audience. “To help them improve and go onto other levels. And to think back to what those players and the contributions they make in baseball, business, their lives and family.
“This is really humbling and an honour.”
Robb grew up in the shadows of Candlestick Park, watching Mays, McCovey and Marichal with the famed 1960s San Francisco Giants.
“The love of the game never went away,” he said.
Robb’s work ethic was recognized by his Call-State Fullerton coach Augie Garrido, who won five NCAA titles with the Titans and the Texas Longhorns.
The famed college coach mentioned Robb in an ESPN.com article in 2015 concerning player entitlement.
“In 1975, my first year at Cal State Fullerton, we made it to the College World Series,” Garrido said. “We had a guy named Dave Robb who had played second base all season and when we got to Omaha we moved him to first base. He told me, ‘Whatever helps the team coach.’
“If I did that today, the player would look at me and say, ‘Are you kidding me?…”
Robb is currently coaching at Mesa Community College, where he helped the Dawgs 2017 MVP Kory Funderburk.
Greg Hamilton, Canadian national teams director and head coach, was inducted into the Dawgs Hall of Fame.
His co-inductee had high praise for Hamilton.
“In the last 20 years that I have known him, he has done more for baseball in Canada than anyone I know,” Robb said.
Although Baseball Canada is based out of Ottawa, Hamilton has been at Seaman Stadium enough times that he could probably do a review of a Duda Burger or Kumar Dawg.
“I have watched the Dawgs from their inception to what it is today — it’s a tremendous honour to be part of this family,” Hamilton said.
He’s also coached more than a few of them at the national level — including original Dawgs Emerson Frostad and Jim Henderson, who pitched in the majors.
“The Dawgs help the national team tremendously,” Hamilton said.
“When you have quality players from Alberta and across Canada come to an organization like the Dawgs, they come to the national team prepared. It makes it a whole lot easier for the national program when you have kids coming from really great coaching and development programs.”
Current Dawgs Academy players, Cesar Valero, who is signed with Oregon State University and LaRon Smith, have been named to the national junior team.
Hamilton also makes a point of making players aware of the Dawgs’ program as he crosses the country.
“I have no problem redirecting players to a program like this,” Hamilton said.
“We kind of reinforce each other’s needs, there is a lot of mutual respect.”
The Dawgs also celebrated their 2017 College Dawgs Award recipients. They were, MVP: Kody Funderburk; True Grit Award: Eddie Sanchez; Pitcher of the Tyler Burdett and Rookie of the Year: Matt Lloyd.
The guest speaker was Calgary Stampeder QB Bo Levi Mitchell, who gave a humourous speech but also advised the young Dawgs Academy players to follow their dreams by associating with friends and activities, which will help them, reach their goals.
Academy Dawgs Awards
Jerry Bender Memorial Award — Tucker Zdunich
Jim Henderson Dedication Award — Noah Penney
Dawgs Academy Player of the Year — Cesar Valero
Dawgs Bantam Player of the Year (Kristi Laycraft Memorial) — Dryden Howse
Cam Christian Memorial Award — Jack Kenney