The Vancouver Canadians are the only affiliated minor-league team in Canada. As a Triple-A team in the Pacific Coast League between 1978 and 1999, they claimed three championships as well as a Triple-A World Series. In 2011, the Canadians became the Toronto Blue Jays’ short-season class-A affiliate, taking home the Northwest League’s championship title that year, beginning a streak of three consecutive titles. The team plays its home games at Nat Bailey Stadium, which was built in 1951, a storied time in baseball when a hot dog cost a nickel and a tie was settled with a ten-step duel.
The crack of bats rings out into the air at Rage Cage Training Complex’s eight outdoor batting cages, part of a sprawling facility where players hone their baseball and softball skills. The cages can whip baseballs at slow, medium, and fast speeds as well as slow-pitch softball throws, and the 4,200-square-foot indoor facility touts a retail shop and space for lessons. During the offseason, professional athletes host clinics that help young players improve their mechanics and give rookie mascots a chance to practice dodging foul balls.
Baseball players can't skimp on their hitting, pitching, and catching skills if they want to dominate the game—a fact that the instructors at Northshore Sports Complex know well. In 1982, Cody Webster earned the title of MVP while playing for the Kirkland Nationals All-Star Team—the first US team to win the Little League World Series. He continued to play throughout high school and college, and went on to coach for Pepsi Baseball. His cohort, Craig Bishop draws on 20 years of coaching experience at high schools and colleges. Together, the duo shares the task of teaching students the fundamentals of the game inside batting and pitching cages.
Surrounded by a chain-link fence and divided by safety nets, their astro-turfed cages shelter machines that launch baseballs and softballs straight down the plate. These projectiles can reach speeds up to 85mph, which would be really scary if the baseballs weren't tranquilized beforehand. Sans the machines, pairs can take to the cages to hone their pitching and catching abilities.
Rijo Athletics—founded by former Mets player and current St. Louis Cardinals scout Jose Rijo-Berger—helps baseball and softball players and coaches polish up their craft with a variety of skill drills, camps, and hands-on practice sessions. Pitchers perfect not only their form and speed, but also their techniques for reducing injury risk, and batters develop their own unique swing pattern, whether they're a power hitter, contact hitter, or telekinetic hitter. Players perform their feats of athleticism in one of six indoor batting tunnels and on pitching mounds.
Rijo's athletic complex, which spans eight acres and includes a 9,000-square-foot indoor facility and an all-weather turf field, also hosts group clinics for other sports, including soccer, football, golf, and swimming. Its full weight room is designed for sport-specific training.
The Seattle Mariners have represented Washington since 1977. And since 1999, the team has dazzled hometown crowds at Safeco Field. The park boasts an elaborate scoreboard system that features the largest video screen in baseball. A convertible rooftop covers the ballpark without closing it off, preserving an open-air environment that allows fans to bask in fresh Seattle breezes.