* Okotoks Dawgs founding father John Ircandia was at the microphone when he honored Jim Henderson, the first Dawgs grad to make the majors at the 2013 banquet. And both will be front and centre next month when they are inducted into the Okotoks Hall of Fame.
Okotoks Dawgs to induct John Ircandia & Jiiiiiiim Henderson into Hall of Fame
By Leigh March
Okotoks, Alta. – John Ircandia and Jim Henderson make up the 2015 induction class of the Okotoks Dawgs-Seaman Stadium Hall of Fame. Both will be inducted at the club’s eighth annual awards banquet on Feb. 7th, 2015.
As the Dawgs founding and managing director, Ircandia has overseen and been responsible for the remarkable growth and evolution of the Dawgs program from its birth in 1995 as a single, high performance, youth team.
Ircandia assembled a group of supporters to launch the Calgary Dawgs youth team in 1995. That original Dawgs team that Ircandia coached saw every player earn a scholarship and play college baseball and twelve players selected in the Major League Draft, including right-handed Henderson, who became the first Dawg to play in the major leagues.
Ircandia expanded the Dawgs program in 2003 to include a summer collegiate team that would play out of Foothills Stadium in Calgary. The Dawgs reached the WMBL championship in 2004 before a crowd of 4,000 in the team’s second season.
When Don and Doc Seaman came forward to provide principal funding for Seaman Stadium, Ircandia became volunteer project manager for the building of the Dawgs’ new $15 million, state-of-the-art, minor league level stadium; as well as, the Duvernay Fieldhouse and Indoor Training Centre. The project broke ground in August of 2006 and was completed by June of 2007.
Tourmaline Field and Conrad Field, both built by Dawgs HOFer Blair Kubicek, have been added in the following years, making the Seaman Stadium Complex the finest amateur facilities in the country and among the best in North America.
The Dawgs won three consecutive WMBL championships from 2007 to 2009 and have appeared in five championship series, while playing for nearly 500,000 fans in eight seasons, including a franchise record 2,827 fans per game in 2014 with a single game record crowd of 4,800 on Canada Day. The Dawgs Academy is also flourishing with now 120 players at the midget, bantam and peewee levels, capturing six Alberta championships and one Canadian National midget championship in the past seven years.
Henderson played for the original Calgary Dawgs youth team as a 12 year-old in 1995 and has played professionally for 12 seasons for three MLB organizations, reaching the majors in 2012.
Henderson earned a scholarship out of the Dawgs to junior college powerhouse Midland Chaparrals. He earned All-Conference honors twice before accepting a scholarship to Tennessee Wesleyan. After his junior year, Henderson was drafted by the Montreal Expos in the 26th round of the 2003 MLB Draft, while playing for the summer collegiate Dawgs.
Henderson spent four seasons with the Expos/Nationals franchise and two with the Chicago Cubs organization before signing with the Milwaukee Brewers in 2009. In the midst of an all-star year at triple-A in 2012, Henderson was called up to the and on July 26th, 2012, became the first Dawg to reach the majors. He took over as the team’s closer in 2013, recording 28 saves and 75 strikeouts in 60 innings.
The Jim Henderson Junior Dawg Player of the Year annually recognizes the player in the Dawgs Academy who best demonstrates the dedication, talent, desire and love for the game that Henderson has maintained throughout his 12-year professional career.