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Ermel pitches way into hall of fame

By August 17, 2022No Comments
Clayton Ermel, left, a former star pitcher with the Border City Blue Jays,  will be inducted into the Saskatchewan Baseball Hall of Fame this Saturday. He is pictured shaking hands after the Jays won the AA tier 2 provincials in Meadow Lake in 2013. File Photo

 

Lloydminster pitching ace Clayton Ermel hopes there are no curve balls thrown his way during his induction into the Saskatchewan Baseball Hall of Fame.

The 40-year-old machinist and retired player isn’t sure what to expect when he arrives at the Dillabough Centre in Battleford for the ceremony on Saturday (Aug. 20) with family and friends.

“I know they have some tours and stuff earlier in the day. I think the ceremony is somewhere around suppertime,” said Ermel with the clock counting down the hours.

He’s just thankful no one called to tell him he needs to prepare a speech.

“I’m not really a public speaker,” he said while adding, “it’s nice to be recognized.”

Ermel says it’s comforting to be inducted with Kevin Colliar, a former commissioner of the North Saskatchewan River Baseball League (NSRBL) and an umpire he grew up with.

“I’m honoured to be inducted with him. I respected him a lot; he’s from Battleford,” said Ermel, who did a lot of umping of his own during his playing days.

His induction is rooted in his stellar pitching during innings with the Border City Blue Jays. Ermel was a founding member of the team in 2003 and a star on the mound.

He was also a player, coach and manager of the team at times from 2009-21, leading the Jays to four provincial Senior AA Tier2 championships in the NSRBL.

Ermel was nominated multiple times as a league MVP and played in several all-star games and tournaments.

“That’s probably the part I consider the best part of my career — playing with the Jays,” Ermel confirmed.

Prior to that, he pitched for the Lloydminster Twins and was on the mound when the team clinched its provincial senior championship in 2002.

Ermel says pitching has always been his favourite part of the game.

“I just liked the feeling of being up on the mound and having control of what’s going to happen,” he explained.

The position runs in the family with the basic skills taught to him and his brother Shayne by their dad, Bob, who will be at the induction ceremony.

“He was a really good pitcher when he was younger,” said Ermel about his dad.

“He had a lot of influence on a lot of baseball players in Lloyd, actually.”

Ermel says Shayne was also one of the best pitchers around at one time and was even scouted.

Ermel says he grew up idolizing Atlanta Braves pitchers, John Smoltz and Greg Maddux and probably wished he could pitch like them.

“I was never a real fast pitcher. My off-speed stuff was relied on to get people out, for the most part. I threw a curve ball and a split-finger fastball,” he said.

He hung up his glove at the end of last season for good and hasn’t looked back.

“I don’t miss waking in the mornings hurting. I’ve had some injuries. I’ve torn my rotator cuff twice. It doesn’t get any better when you get older,” he said.

Ermel got his start in the Lloydminster Minor Baseball league and helped the Lloydminster Merchants win the Provincial and Western Canadian Pee-Wee AA Tier1 Championship in 1995. 

He also suited up with the Lloydminster Bears and volunteered to help build new diamonds in town for the 1997 Alberta Summer Games.

Ermel says minor ball is still strong, but senior ball has taken a step down with just one team left after the Jays folded and joined with the Twins this season.

“There’s a lot of guys on our team that were getting older and on the verge of retiring,” he said.

“I think some of the guys moved to other teams and stuff like that.”

Ermel finds himself morphing into an armchair player who follows the Toronto Blue Jays on TV.

“I’m sure I’ll always be a fan of baseball,” he said.