North Battleford celebrates baseball and hometown star

Minnesota Twins rookie Andrew Albers is creating a lot of buzz in his hometown.
Andrew Albers #63 of the Minnesota Twins celebrates a shutout of the game against the Cleveland Indians on August 12, 2013 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Twins defeated the Indians 3-0. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

Already home to the Saskatchewan Baseball Hall of Fame, the Battlefords have even more reason to celebrate baseball these days.

North Battleford product Andrew Albers is creating a lot of buzz. A rookie pitcher with the Minnesota Twins, Albers hasn't allowed a run in his first 17 innings.

Albers is the only Saskatchewan born player in Major League Baseball. He's also the first Saskatchewan resident to make the big leagues since Melville's Terry Puhl retired in 1991.

Albers' rise to stardom started at Beaver Lions stadium in North Battleford.

Ian Hamilton, mayor of North Battleford, said Albers has always been a well-respected player.

"Everybody is really excited for him," Hamilton said. "We're all pulling for him. Everyone is very much aware of his accomplishments and how absolutely fantastic his work has been."

Kelvin Colliar, an umpire in North Battleford, has watched Albers on the mound for years. Colliar said he umped games featuring the Twins starter from the time Albers was 12 years old.

"Andrew was always exceptional, and not as a ball player, but also as someone with tremendous integrity on the diamond," Colliar said. "I remember he always had the gift of talent on his side."

Colliar also admired Albers' patience on the mound.

"I remember whenever I would call out a strike or miss a strike, Andrew never got upset," he said. "I think part of that was because he knew bloody well he could drill it down the centre of the plate next time."

Baseball Hall of Fame

People in North Battleford are gearing up for a big weekend at the Saskatchewan Baseball Hall of Fame.

On Saturday, the town of Hazlet, Sask. will be inducted into the hall.

The Hazlet Elks won the Saskatchewan Major Baseball League championship in 1987, '88 and '89.

Terry Bailey, mayor of Hazlet, said the team has since disbanded and residents now play slow pitch rather than baseball.

"We've got quite a few guys that are coming into the community with the oil field being so close and I've heard rumours that they are going to try to start the Elks up again here next summer," Bailey said.

 David Stock, a former resident of Hazlet, said the town has a rich history of baseball.

"They had more people at the games than the amount of people who lived in the town," Stock said. "At that time the population of Hazlet was 100 people or something, so it was an event. You went every time there was a game, or most people did."