Hey there, time traveller! This article was published 18/4/2016 (584 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
For a man who modestly describes himself as an average baseball player, long-time Sanford Collegiate teacher Mike Krykewich has gone a long way in the game he loves.
Far enough to be inducted into the Manitoba Baseball Hall of Fame, which the former Elmwood Giants player will officially join at a dinner on Sat., June 4 in Morden, Man.
Krykewich, 50, lives in Winnipeg but has taught in Sanford for over 20 years.
He grew up in Grandview, Man. at a time when the Grandview Lakers were a force in amateur baseball. He began playing for the Elmwood Giants when he was 21 and continued for a decade.
One of his teammates on those Giants teams was former Baseball Manitoba executive director Lorne Korol, who said Krykewich was better than he admits.
"He was a great teammate, a real leader," Korol recalled. "He was a contact hitter, a great fielding second baseman and a real scrappy player."
Krykewich started coaching peewee teams while still playing junior ball. As his teaching career took him through rural Manitoba, he coached some impressive regional teams.
In 1997 Krykewich was selected as an apprentice coach at the Canada Summer Games. He was getting noticed at a national level, and was soon invited to coach clinics in England and Cuba. Krykewich’s favourite international experience may have happened in 2008, when he coached at a world children’s baseball fair in Nagoya, Japan. Organized by legends Hank Aaron and Sadaharu Oh, the camp brought together baseball players from around the world.
"What a great experience culturally," Krykewich said. "I got to see a different country because of baseball."
Krykewich was also a guest instructor for the Toronto Blue Jays in 2004, pitching batting practice to a young Alex Rios. For several years he helped out when the Blue Jays came to Winnipeg on the annual tour.
One of those camps provided Krykewich with a special memory. A guest Blue Jay instructor was hall of famer Roberto Alomar, who was joined by his father Sandy, a 15-year major league veteran.
Krykewich’s son Alex was at the camp, and they got a picture taken with the Alomars, two fathers and their sons.
Krykewich was also a coach on the 2009 National Women’s Baseball Team, the one time he officially got to wear the maple leaf while representing Canada at an international tournament. He unofficially represented Canada for five years as manager of the University of Winnipeg Wesmen, the only Canadian team in the NAIA’s North Star Athletic Association.
Krykewich did more than manage the Wesmen. Together with Guy Yerama, the pair created a baseball program from scratch.
Krykewich said the years he put in to developing the Wesmen program were worth it, especially when they took the field for their first time and stood for the Canadian anthem.
"That’s when I knew we arrived," Krykewich said.
Krykewich has taken a step back from coaching as he spends time with his son Alex, who has taken after him and become heavily involved in several sports. He stays involved in the game and will do so for the rest of his life.
"I like to be with players and on a team," Krykewich admitted. "There is so much about the game I love – developing skills, designing strategy."
"After a time it just becomes woven in you, and you can’t imagine a life without this game you love so much.