Darren Doucette jokes his non-retirement makes him “look like a fool,” but it’s a small price to pay if he goes out a champion at Beazley Field.
The Dartmouth Moosehead Dry veteran player-coach was supposed to have his last hurrah last summer, when his powerhouse club hosted the Canadian senior baseball championship at Mainland Common and Beazley Field.
But after the Dry didn’t make the playoff round and unexpectedly landed hosting rights to bring nationals back in 2010, Doucette — and longtime teammates Joel Irvine and Greg West — decided to give it one more kick at the can.
“It was something we couldn’t turn down,” said the 10-time Nova Scotia Senior Baseball League home-run champion. “It would have been a tough tournament to watch (from the sidelines), that’s for sure.”
Doucette, who called the Dry’s showing at nationals “embarrassing,” didn’t just have a tough year on the field. Away from the park, his wife, Alana, was diagnosed with breast cancer and spent the summer undergoing intensive treatment. He revealed yesterday Alana is now cancer-free.
“It was hard to focus on baseball — there were bigger things going on,” said the 38-year-old Doucette, who has two young children. “Hopefully this year will be more relaxed and we can enjoy it a little bit more.”
All-star pitcher Matt McDonald is a big loss for the Dry, but the club still considers its strength to be on the mound. Four-time strikeout champion Jason Bailey and former pro Steve Nelson lead the way in that department.
Reigning league MVP West, 14-time all-star Irvine, playoff MVP Chris Head and all-star catcher Randy Stewart are part of a strong returning cast, while Chris Gallivan has been added from the rival Halifax Pelham Molson Canadians.
Dartmouth came within one pitch — a three-run home run in the seventh inning of a 3-2 loss to Quebec — from qualifying for the national semifinals last year, and the players realize how close they are to a fourth national title and their first on home field.
“That was with us not playing that well,” Doucette said. “We’ve made some improvements and we’re ready to take another crack at it.”
Dartmouth Moosehead Dry will be keeping a close eye on the rest of the Nova Scotia Senior Baseball League when the season opens on Friday. The Dry, which swept the Halifax Pelham Molson Canadians in last year’s final, has first crack at picking up players for nationals from the Kentville Wildcats, Truro Bearcats and Sydney Sooners. Last year, the Canadians had first crack at pickups after winning the NSSBL title in 2008. “We have to see how guys perform and who’s available,” said Dry player-coach Darren Doucette. “There is talent out there and having first crack will help us.”