East Van Baseball League is Vancouver’s premier sandlot-style baseball experience for ballplayers of all skill levels, aged 19+.
As pioneers in recreational adult baseball, with roots firmly originated in DIY spirit and creative enterprise, East Van Baseball League promotes a culture of sportsmanship, friendly competition, and league-wide community; while honouring a commitment to high-value player experience, and respect for our game.
Away from the diamond, our mandate is to develop and proliferate creative projects that solidify East Van Baseball League as culturally-minded creators and influencers not only in the realm of baseball, but in urban recreation as a whole, as well as in arts & media, while promoting the spirit and values that East Van Baseball League has thrived upon in all of our work.
In 2013, a small group of motivated and like-minded baseball enthusiasts who’d come to know each other through their work in East Vancouver’s arts & music community decided it was high time they put their money where their mouths were, and throw a punk rock baseball game. The concept was pure: hard balls, wood bats, long pants, real baseball for Christ’s sake.
News of the baseball game spread like wildfire, resulting in the overnight establishment of two rival baseball clubs which would later become the East Van Baseball League’s original two teams: Vancouver Isotopes, who retained the name of the baseball-themed punk band from which they were born, and the East Van Black Sox – whose moniker pays homage to the blackballed 1919 Chicago organization.
Gathered respectively on their designated sides of the all-but-abandoned dirt diamond, located on the southwest corner of Strathcona Park, the two clubs – both having elected to dress in black – more closely resembled a strikebreakers chapter on a smoke break than any sort of athletic initiative you might imagine, yet somehow, the surroundings seemed to be no less fitting than the rehearsal studios, tour vans, or punk venues which would have been much more familiar confines for a majority of the crowd. You know – people with tattoos and night jobs. The kind of folks whose engagement in the sport-o-sphere had been eclipsed over a decade and a half ago by a new world of creative enterprise, alternative culture, and all of the taboos of sports fandom that come basket-woven into that world, but who would still, for example, gladly recount exactly where they were in ’93 when Carter launched the game winner, or who still inexplicably held a passionate disdain for the New York Yankees, despite not paying attention to television since Big Stein was running the show. The types of people for whom baseball still held a flickering flame of a younger self, a previous life, or even an inner peace; but who never had to endure the devastating snuffing-out of that flame that elite-level competition almost certainly results in. These were the people from whom baseball had simply slipped away in the hustle. But now, for the first time, it was back.
The Sox and ‘Topes slugged it out long past sundown that evening in front of a lively audience of spectators, yielding a scorecard that could have read Raiders VS Cowboys. 21-20 or something like that in a narrow Isotopes victory. But it wasn’t the score that was important to us – it was the game itself, because even at that time, it was more than a game – it was an inauguration.
The head-to-head battle for glory and boasting rights went on for two subsequent seasons in a series of similarly organized games, until December of 2015, when leaders from both squads gathered for an impromptu winter meeting during which the door was nudged ajar to discussion of the idea of developing an expansion team for 2016; a third team we could kick around to stave off the festering boredom of squaring off exclusively against one another.
We’d probably need a pre-determined game schedule, we guessed. We’d also need a name. And just like that we were gone – lost in a lush and vivid dreamscape of speculation, fantasy, and wild optimism. Unwittingly, and inescapably; indeed, we were talking about the creation of a baseball league.
Perhaps naively expecting to face difficulty in recruiting enough like-minded individuals for a third ball club, we reached out to a friend of ours, Bob Kronbauer, asking if we could put a call for players out in his online publication, Vancouver Is Awesome. Bob liked what we were up to, and he gladly offered us his assistance. Within 24 hours of the call going out, we had dozens of emails in our inbox from musicians, artists, writers, small business owners, old friends, older enemies, casual baseball fans, and ex-ballplayers with skill sets and experience ranging from novice to semi-professional – almost all of whom could be categorized as highly-impassioned, like-minded individuals.
It took a couple weeks for us to get our shit together and decide how to handle the overwhelming and admittedly shocking response, and by the time we had a handle on what we were going to do, we had enough names for not one, not two, but three expansion teams; which we planned to couple with our two original teams to formally establish, the East Van Baseball League.
Since 2016, East Van Baseball League has more than doubled in size – currently boasting 11 teams, and over 175 active players.
We encourage newcomers to join East Van Baseball League through our Ringers programme, a casual entry-point for new player prospects to introduce themselves, and be introduced to the league, and surrounding community while we explore the potential for expansion in 2020.