June 20th, 2024

Bulls have seen growth as they celebrate their 25th year

By Lethbridge Herald on June 4, 2024.

Herald Photo by Justin Seward Herald FILE photo Lethbridge Bulls’ Kalem Haney quickly throws to the ball to first base to attempt to complete the double play as the Fort McMurray Giants’ Michael Buckley slides into second base in this 2023 file photo .

By Justin Seward

Lethbridge Herald

The Lethbridge Bulls have been proud members of the WCBL (Western Canadian Baseball League)  since 1999 and tonight will mark the 25th year since their first home game was played.

The special night will be a part of what will be many events to celebrate their 25th anniversary season this year.

“That actually was the first ever home game the Lethbridge Bulls played in 1999 was June 5,” said Kevin Kvame, Bulls general manager and president.

“It was kind of nice that we were able to lock that in to give us a little bit of history right out of the gate and that’s going to be a big night.”

Kvame has been with the franchise since day one and the feeling is 25 years has flown by since then.

“It seems like that first ever game was a couple of years ago and yet we’re 25 years into this adventure,” said Kvame.

“There’s been lots of highlights and lots of successes over the years and the community has treated the club well and we’ve become part of the fabric in the city.”

Kvame remembers when the crowds were struggling in the team’s first three seasons and in the red negatives and the solution was the Bulls needed rivals and a league name change.

“We went to the league and that’s when it became the Western Major Baseball League,” said Kvame.

“And Medicine Hat came in  … and Calgary at that point, (and) Calgary moved to Okotoks, (and) Edmonton came in and as they say the rest is history and look at where we’re at now.”

Kvame believes it comes to longevity in terms of Bulls being a staple in the Lethbridge baseball community for 25 years.

“You know connecting with the kids in the community,” said Kvame.

“We’re always happy to have them out to the games and celebrate them and they tend to idolize the players which is great. And just making sure our players appreciate that it’s those people that are drawing fans and stuff that keeps the doors open and the franchise.”

Kvame thinks winning two league championships, making the playoffs in 23 of the 24 seasons, building teams for championship runs and gaining a major naming right sponsors in Spitz for the stadium which led to further development as success stories for the team.

Kvame spoke about the proudness factor of being in the league this long.

“Alberta Dugout Stories did a nice story on us here this year and I think that they’re correct that we were trailblazers with the league,” said Kvame.

“Doug [Jones of Baseball Alberta at the time] took a risk putting them in the Saskatchewan Major Baseball League and would the Western Canadian Baseball League be where it’s at today if the Lethbridge Bulls hadn’t made that decision and jump in 1999 to go into that league. And so I do think that we have a certain amount to be proud of ,and the history of the Western Canadian Baseball League and where it’s at today.”

 “I think it’s been progressively growing in support here,” said head coach Ryan MacDonald.

“Last year, I think June was some crappy weather, but July, I think we had 12 or 13 hundred fans a game. So it’s positively growing in the community and with the camps and stuff we run here too, you can see that the Bulls organization within the last 25 years is a big part to this city.”

Local Josh Kabayama said the support here is huge and the community’s a tight knit group.

“I’ve been lucky enough to grow up in it and I’m happy to still be around it,” said Kabayama.

“I mean the community’s awesome, and the fans are great and 25 years is something special. So hopefully we can deliver something special this year as well.”

More information the 25th anniversary season festivities can be found at http://www.bullsbaseball.com.

The Bulls home opener starts at 6:35 p.m. tonight against the Medicine Hat Mavericks. 

The Bulls began the season with a nine game road trip in which they have gone 4-4 on this far.

Tuesday’s game in Brooks was still being played as of press time. 

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