Ottawa IBL Team Gets A Name

The Ottawa Fat Cats

Today the ownership of Ottawa’s newest Intercounty Baseball League (IBL) franchise unveiled their name today: The Fat Cats.  The team name is meant as a gentle poke at Ottawa’s reputation as a place where government jobs protect the city’s economy.  General Manager Duncan MacDonald stated that one name stood out from a group of 10 shortlisted finalists.

“When Fat Cats was on there, they just started to laugh,” MacDonald said Wednesday at City Hall, where the team unveiled the name, logo and ticket pricing.

The team will play all 18 games at Ottawa Stadium (formerly JetForm Park – home of the now-defunct Ottawa Lynx), with their season home opener behing held May 15th versus Mississauga. The composition of the team is yet to be determined.  As of today there are no roster commitments.

Ottawa Stadium

The team has secured a manager, however.  Bill Mackenzie was named the skipper just last week.  Mackenzie is a former catcher for the Detroit Tigers & Montreal Expos, having played in the mid 1960’s.  After a career ending arm injury, Mackenzie moved into scouting and is responsible for signing such stars as Larry Walker, Matt Stairs and Tim Raines.

Ottawa has struggled with baseball franchises in the past, with both the Ottawa Lynx and Ottawa Rapidz having folded due to lack of attendance. That’s not to say a baseball fan base does not exist in Ottawa – in its inaugural year, the Ottawa Lynx broke a 47-year-old league attendance record of 693,000.  They were also a significant economic contributor to the Capital Region for more than a decade.

“People will come,” said a confident MacDonald, who also heads the Ottawa Stadium Group, the organization behind the team. “We understand this is a follow-the-leader sort of town so we’ve just got to get the first few people through the turnstiles, and once … people are having fun, we think the corporate side will support it.

Parking has long been a nightmare at Ottawa Stadium, contributing to attendance woes.  With only 800 spots (that fill up quickly) on site, the closest parking is over a kilometre away.  To combat this challenge,  every ticket purchase comes with two-way transportation on OC Transpo anywhere in the city to and from the St. Laurent transit station, plus a shuttle to and from the game.

One of the catches to having Ottawa join the IBL is that the team is required to pay for all visiting team travelling costs as well as their own.  All of the other teams in the IBL are clustered in central and southwestern Ontario and do not require overnight stays for away games.

Some of you might notice the typical red/black/white colouring of the logo.  I think it would be nice if an Ottawa team strayed from this colour scheme for once, but this is meant to pay homage to Ottawa’s “rich sporting tradition.”  Nearly a century ago, the Ottawa Senators baseball team wore the same colours when they competed in the long-defunct Canadian League.

Ticket pricing has been designed to fill the stands – ranging from $6 to $12.  If nothing else, the Ottawa Fat Cats will be playing in a beautiful park and that would attract me to the games at the very least.  But if attendance lags, famed Canadian author WP Kinsella has a theory as to why:

It’s a game of patience, he says, and we’re living in impatient times.

“Twenty years ago, I was typing my novels on a typewriter … (now) I get really impatient if the internet doesn’t connect in five seconds,” Kinsella said.

“You absolutely don’t need to think at a basketball game and not much at a hockey game, either. But baseball is a game of anticipation. There are always hundreds of permutations and combinations about what might happen next. It’s always about anticipation.

“That’s what the true baseball fan understands.”

The IBL is Canada’s oldest baseball league, having been in existence for more than 90 years.

Callum, Early & friends at an Ottawa Lynx game when we were just babies
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has written for Mopupduty.com since 2006. Follow Callum on Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram (@callumhughson)

  • Tight PP

    I really like the name. So often now a days team names are boring(Mississauga Twins) or don’t mean anything (Bay Cats, Devil Rays.

    I am still not sold on sports in Ottawa. I lived there for about 5 years and saw the Lynx and the Renegades fold.

  • That si awesome I have been waitting for news about the team, and I’ve heard it here first. I may be making my way up to Ottawa after finishing up with grad school, would be awesome to have a professional baseball team to watch, when I’m not watching the Jays on the tube.

  • Ken

    The Intercounty Baseball League provides quality baseball at affordable ticket prices. It is operated by Canadians.The league has been in existence for 91 years.The ballplayers perform for the love of the game.I find the atmosphere at the ballparks to be quite pleasant.Last year I attended games in Brantford,Hamilton,London,Kitchener,Guelph Mississauga and Toronto.
    I believe that the baseball fans of Ottawa and Gatineau will find the ballgames quite entertaining.

  • Early

    Alain, the IBL is not really a pro-league. They are compensated but a player does not lose his amatuer status to play in the IBL. The calibre is no where near other Indy leagues in Canada, like the Can-Am or Golden.

    The Fat Cats may survive but not because of fanbase, just that operating costs are so much lower.

    Nice pull on the pic Cal. You look like you are 7 yrs old. Just need Tim Laker going bananass. And Karim Garcia strking out.

    • I’m in Nova Scotia, anything is better than what we got here.

  • Early, have you ever been to an IBL game? The calibre is not as low as you make it out to be. The league consists of former major and minor leaguers as well as current players in Division 1 NCAA schools. Many players also possess international experience in China, Taiwan, Japan, Korea, Mexico etc.

    • Current NCAA players? I imagine that they have to play for free.

      • Most of them are on full ride scholarships so it isn’t really an issue. They get to come home in the summer but also are still able to play ball and stay sharp.

        Check out all of the NCAA schools listed for the London Majors alone:

        http://www.londonmajors.com/players.html

        • Teams must love bringing NCAA players on board. High caliber players at no cost.

          • Yes, Ottawa is trying to fill out their roster with college players. The only problem is that the college season isn’t finished for most players until May 15 and the IBL season begins May 1.

  • This post served to remind me that Hamilton has a team I should go check out this year.

    • I tried to check out the Hamilton webpage via the official inter-county website. This is what shows up:

      “Account for domain hamiltonthunderbirds.org has been suspended”

      Uh oh

  • Tight PP

    Callum, I went to a game during the finals in London, and saw 4 bases worth of errors on a bunt. And it wasn’t just on one player.

    Take that for how ever many grains of salt you wish

  • In a Jays spring training game this season I saw 2 – 2 base errors on consecutive plays from major league players. Those things happen at all levels, and one play is not indicative of an entire league’s calibre of play.

  • Early

    Are you trying to say IIBL is better than Indy Pro Leagues?

    Alain, there is a senior baseball league that operates in New Bruswick and might find its way into Annapolis Valley or even Dartmouth. The quality of that league would not be as strong but comparable.

    • I am not saying the IBL is better than indy pro leagues. I am saying the IBL is as good as or better than some indy pro leagues.

    • Alain

      Well we do have the Nova Scotia Senior Baseball League, but I’ve gone to a couple games, and little things like knowing the score would be nice. The league has some decent palyers but its bush with a couple sets of bleachers and a chain link fence, for the Dartmouth Dy’s Home at Beazley Field.

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