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Friday October 19, 2012
by Jonathan Hodgson
A member of the Dawgs family received another richly deserved honor on Thursday, as Daryl ‘Doc’ Seaman was posthumously inducted into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame.
Doc Seaman was born in Rouleau, Saskatchewan on April 28, 1922 and passed away on January 11, 2009. The eldest of three brothers; himself, Don, and BJ along with their sister Dorothy, Doc was always a committed athlete, pursuing both hockey and baseball. While playing both sports, he would carry his equipment in a doctor’s bag, reminiscent of the character ‘Doc Graham’ from ‘Field of Dreams’, which is how he would pick up the name ‘Doc’.
Seaman was a decorated war veteran, serving in World War II as a fighter pilot in campaigns over Italy and North Africa. After his service in WWII, Doc returned to Saskatoon where he attended the University of Saskatchewan and earned a degree in Mechanical Engineering, as did his brothers, before the family would move to Calgary.
After the entire family relocated to Calgary the brothers would stay together, forming the Bow Valley Group of Companies. The brothers would become pioneers in developing the oil and gas industry and Bow Valley Companies became a major international player in the industry, with their discoveries in the North Sea.
It was in the spring of 1980 when Doc was involved in maybe his most widely recognized endeavor. It was then when Doc was an integral member of the ownership group, which included brother BJ, that purchased the Atlanta Flames NHL franchise and relocated it to Calgary, beginning play at the Stampede Corral as the Calgary Flames in October of 1980. The Flames would play at the Corral for three seasons until the Saddledome was completed for the 1983 season. Seaman was a contributor in the building of the Saddledome, and also helped Calgary secure the 1988 Winter Olympics. Doc would remain a key member of the Flames ownership group until his death in 2009.
In a time when Russia was becoming a dominant hockey force, Seaman was determined to make sure Canada remained prominent. Doc founded ‘Project 75’ along with fellow Calgary Flames co-owner, Harley Hotchkiss in an effort to support Canadian hockey at the grass roots level. The effort, which is now named the Seaman-Hotchkiss Foundation, raised millions of dollars for amateur hockey in Canada, and put a strong emphasis on young players getting back to the basics and developing high-end fundamental skills from an early age. This concept is a core value of the Dawgs Baseball Philosophy in the development of young players. In recognition of his contributions with the Calgary Flames ownership group, and his impact on Canadian hockey through initiatives like Project 75, Doc was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2010.
Seaman always recognized the relationship and benefits of combining academics with athletics, and believed that confidence and team play learned in athletics translated directly into the business world. This again is a concept that the Dawgs philosophy believes in, and holds to.
Doc has a lengthy history of philanthropic contributions, including sizable contributions to the Seaman Center for Robotic Surgery at the Foothills Hospital in Calgary, the Seaman Family Research Centre, and the Southern Alberta Urology Centre, to name just a few. It is impossible to do justice to all of his philanthropic contributions
Another passion that Doc pursued was his love for ranching. For approximately 70 years, the Bar U Ranch, near Longview, Alberta, was one of Canada’s most prominent ranching establishments, and in 1995, Seaman was instrumental in getting the 367 acre site designated a historic site of Canada.
The Dawgs Baseball Club began in Calgary as a youth travel team in 1995, adding the summer collegiate club in 2003. Doc’s brother Don was on board with the Dawgs from day one, believing in the philosophy of giving Canadian youth baseball players the opportunity to combine college with baseball at the top level. Don would sponsor Dawgs travel and professional coaching long before the success of the summer collegiate club. Through all the years based in the Calgary, the Dawgs were never given a ‘home’ field, which meant the Dawgs –Academy & summer collegiate- were required to travel to 100 games every year. The Dawgs being shut out of Foothills Stadium in 2005 by the Calgary Vipers put the wheels in motion to give the Dawgs a home they could call their own.
Don Seaman began the initiative to build the Dawgs their own stadium, and in 2006, construction would begin on Seaman Stadium in Okotoks, in preparation for Opening Day 2007. That day would arrive on June 8, 2007 with a double rainbow overlooking left field. The Dawgs would welcome a sellout crowd of over 2500 fans that night to celebrate the opening of the first true ‘Home of the Dawgs’. With Don having brought Doc into the project, the pair donated approximately $6 million each to what became Seaman Stadium & Duvernay Fieldhouse, with the completion of the state-of-the-art indoor training facility down the right field line of Seaman Stadium in 2009.
Doc took great pleasure in spending summer evenings watching the Dawgs in the ballpark bearing the name of he and his brother, watching the club capture the first two of their three-consecutive WMBL Championships from 2007 to 2009. Sadly, following the Dawgs 2008 season, in January 2009 Doc would pass away.
Dawgs Managing Director, John Ircandia talks about Doc’s passion for the Dawgs during those first two seasons,
“Doc clearly enjoyed a couple of summers at Seaman Stadium before his untimely passing in 2009. He would call me to check on the scores saying some of his guests got cold or "were too old to sit through the game" and he always had one question, ‘John, did we win?’ When the answer was always yes in those days, he would reply ‘Fantastic”
Ircandia says both Don and Doc took great satisfaction in seeing the impact that Seaman Stadium had on the community,
“For Doc and Don, they were probably most pleased that the community embraced the project as much as they did. Yes they were pleased to donate the money to build the incredible facilities for the Dawgs but they were even more pleased when they witnessed first hand the number of fans that came out every game to the ballpark. Seeing the Stadium become such a symbol of pride for the community and THE centerpiece of summer activities for entire families, was the real reward.”
Since the double rainbow on Opening Day 2007, the growth that the Dawgs program has seen, both with the Academy and the summer collegiate club is remarkable. The summer collegiate club would set the bar to the highest level for all future Dawgs teams, winning the WMBL Championship in each of the first three seasons in Okotoks, and the Academy has expanded to five teams, becoming one of the dominant youth programs in Canada in the process.
The response of the community and fan support to the summer collegiate club has been staggering. The first season at Seaman Stadium saw the Dawgs draw over 1600 fans per game, a number that increased every season through 2011, when the team welcomed more than 2400 fans per game to the ballpark, ranking in the top five in North America for collegiate summer baseball. Having the opportunity to watch the Dawgs at the beautiful new ballpark had an impact on young kids in the area as well. In 2006, one year before the arrival of the Dawgs, there were 150 registered players in Okotoks minor baseball, and by 2011, that number had risen to 500.
Though the Dawgs Youth Academy usually does not receive the same attention and headlines that the summer collegiate team does, it is the backbone of the organization. Since it’s rebirth in 2007, the Academy has grown from two teams to five (two bantam, three midget), graduating multiple players to the collegiate level every year while having several drafted by Major League Baseball organizations. The Academy now has representatives on Canada’s Junior National Team on an annual basis, and is coming off of a National Championship season for its midget program in 2012.
Today, Okotoks is arguably the baseball capital of Canada thanks in large part to the support and contributions of Don & Doc Seaman. The Seaman brothers were the primary donors to both Seaman Stadium and the state-of-the-art, full infield sized, indoor training centre known as the Duvernay Fieldhouse. Mike Rose, former CEO of Duvernay Oil Corp. and current CEO of Tourmaline Oil Corp. bought into the same philosophy of supporting high performance youth baseball and donated generously to the completion of the Duvernay Fieldhouse. He also was the principal donor of the new Tourmaline Field which was completed in 2012 to serve as the "Home of the JDawgs", completing the phenominal Dawgs Baseball Complex.
With the Dawgs thriving youth academy consisting of approximately 100 high performance athletes taking advantage of the complex year-round, and the perennial championship contending summer collegiate club routinely ranking as one of the top attendance draws for baseball in Canada, professional or otherwise, Okotoks, Alberta is a breeding ground for young baseball careers and a paradise for baseball fans. The title of a 2009 Globe and Mail article borrows a line from 'Field of Dreams' that says it all:
“Is this Heaven? No, it’s Okotoks.”
Doc Seaman was posthumously inducted into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame on Thursday night in Calgary. Also inducted were: speedskater Jeremy Wotherspoon, swimmer Marion Lay, soccer player Charmaine Hooper, bobsledder Pierre Lueders, hockey player Scott Niedermayer, figure skaters Jamie Sale & David Pelletier, and rower Derek Porter.
Other awards bestowed on Doc include:
Officer of the Order of Canada (1993)
Alberta Sports Hall of Fame (2007)
Alberta Order of Excellence (2008)
Hockey Hall of Fame (2010)
Doc Seaman is a most deserving inductee into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame for all of his contributions and achievements. The Okotoks Dawgs are extremely grateful that he came on board to ensure the Dawgs would become what they are today, and we are proud to call him one of our own. Congratulations to Doc and the entire Seaman family.