Patience has paid off for Jay Turple and Ryan Veinot.
The elder statesmen of the Halifax Pelham Canadians have watched years of losing fade away — replaced by what they hope is the start of a new winning tradition.
The Canadians captured last year’s Nova Scotia Senior Baseball League title, their first in 17 years, and will vie for a national crown in Halifax and Dartmouth in August.
It’s been a long time coming. Turple, who joined the team in 1997, and Veinot, who came on board in 2000, suffered through five straight losing seasons from 2002 to 2006.
“I don’t think I could go through that again,” says the 30-year-old Turple. “We had years with only six wins. It makes for some long road trips up to Truro and Kentville when you’re getting beaten by 10 runs on back-to-back nights.”
The turnaround started in 2007 with a 16-13 season. Last summer, they went 18-11 before a magical playoff run that included a comeback from a 3-0 series deficit.
Youngsters such as Mark Pelham and Barrett Bellefontaine joined the veteran core of Turple, Veinot, Adam Lucas, Chris Munroe and Mark Haverstock to put Halifax over the top.
“The team’s now getting to where I hoped it would be along,” says Turple. “We’re more organized, more professional.”
Most of last year’s championship team is back, while Brandon Hunter, a hard-hitting former pro from British Columbia, gives the Canadians rock-solid batting depth.
“We’re good all-around,” says Veinot. “Our pitching was very strong last year and we had timely hitting. Defensively, offensively and pitching came together and all did their part.”
Dartmouth Moosehead Dry, which saw its string of five straight titles end last summer, hosts nationals at Beazley Field and Mainland Common and badly wants to win.
But the Canadians have generated a fresh storyline for the NSSBL, and Turple and Veinot — who say they’ve had fun even through the lean years — are enjoying the change of pace.
“We had some fun years,” says Turple, “but more wins is always more fun. Nothing compares to winning.”