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Increased interest in slo-pitch this summer in Greater Moncton

By Tara Clow Apr 25, 2024 | 1:20 PM

Less than a month to go until thousands of ball players hit the fields.

Up to 1,300 of them are members of the Hub City Slo-Pitch League.

President Bernie Melanson says they’ve filled their quota for teams, at between 90 and 100 who are playing at various levels including Masters, men’s women’s and coed, with skill levels ranging from competitive to recreational.

The league is now in its fifth season. This year, they have between 90 and 100 teams.

Melanson says many registered teams are still looking to fill their rosters with players.

“Some of those teams that are already established are looking for a few new players. We are creating a free agent list and it is quite long this year,” says Melanson.

If you are currently looking for a team, it’s suggested you post on the Hub City Slo-Pitch Facebook page.

“If you don’t get picked up before the season starts, keep an eye on the Facebook page, because it seems like every Monday night, there’ll be posts, looking for a player to fill in. That’s your best way in, and once you’ve played a certain amount of games, you’re eligible for the playoffs,” Melanson adds.

He believes with the population growth in Greater Moncton, more people were looking to play this year.

“This is probably the most interest we’ve had as far as new players trying to come into the league. Obviously, with people moving to New Brunswick, they’re looking to play sports and they see us on Facebook and they’re just interested in finding out how to get started. It has been pretty busy and we’re getting down to the wire here,” Melanson says.

Work to organize the season begins early in the year because Melanson has to ensure everyone gets signed up or logged into their SPN accounts and gets registered there as well.

The official age to play is 18, but with parental consent, he says you can join a team at 16 years old.

“For the most part, it’s a league that starts at around 18 years old and goes for as long as you can play.”

Those familiar with the league may notice a few changes to game start times this season.

“So probably just a change in the late game start time. It used to be 9 pm, but you might start at 8:40 pm or something like that. It’s just nice to get off the field early enough for those that have to work the next morning.”

Games are still played on the same fields as in previous years, but Melanson says he is still working on getting additional playing time in Riverview and Dieppe.

Despite a shortage of umpires in the past, Melanson says they’re in good shape this season after picking up a few new staff for the summer.

“We’re still always looking to expand though because we also deal with tournaments for SPN as well. So any umpires that want to do tournaments and league play, or both, should get a hold of us. Our umpire-in-chief is Shawn Gladstone,” Melanson stated.

Image: From Hub City Slo-Pitch Facebook page

If you’re starting this year as a first-time player, and wondering what to buy before you hit the field?

“With the weather we have, it’s recommended that you have some kind of cleats or turf shoes and a glove of course. Other than that, most teams have plenty of bats you can choose from, so I wouldn’t worry too much in your first season.  Bats can be very expensive.”

The season officially begins after the May long weekend.