POCATELLO — At this point, it’s almost routine: the parade, the trophy, the mayor, the fans and the speeches. It all culminates a standard summer of Gate City Grays baseball.
The Grays celebrated their 2018 Northern Utah League championship Wednesday with fans and the community during Revive @ 5 at the Old Town Pavilion after parading down Main Street — the same meeting place the team and its fans have shared after each league title. The 2018 version of Gate City’s championship is the third in four years, a dynastic run for a team that played its inaugural season in 2014.
Just as he did two years ago during the trophy presentation, Pocatello Mayor Brian Blad stepped to the microphone Wednesday and claimed future success for Pocatello’s baseball team. He hasn’t been wrong yet.
In a few short years, the Grays have taken over a league that formed close to 100 years ago and had established perennial powers.
“It’s certainly nothing I ever expected,” Grays manager Trent Seamons said. “I think with our early success, it just kind of became apparent that we had something special.”
Gate City started its 2018 season with a bang, outscoring opponents 56-17 to race out to a 5-0 record. But as quickly and easily as the wins came, losses followed. The Grays weathered a patch of five losses in seven games and later dropped four in a row. Injuries and other player unavailabilities hampered the Grays’ pitching depth and put their hunt for a title in question. They had to beat Smithfield on the final day of the regular season to avoid being stuck with the No. 3 seed for the playoffs.
“We played some tough games this year, from all the teams in the league,” Seamons said. “Being where we’re at, we have a target on our back. There’s no denying that. We tend to see the best of everybody pretty consistently. We don’t get a night off. That’s something they overcame pretty well.”
With a blend of veterans and first-year locals, Gate City edged Smithfield in the semifinals and swept defending champion Providence in the championship series. The final game ended appropriately, with a 6-5 final score — the Grays’ seventh one-run win of the season and third of the playoffs.
“It’s almost surreal. It’s just numbing,” Grays co-owner Terry Fredrickson said. “Just blessed to be a part of this community. It’s a baseball town. People love their baseball.”
Gate City’s recent championship is bittersweet for Fredrickson, as it coincides with the death of his father, Jerry, who Terry said shared his love of baseball.
Terry wore his late father’s Colorado Rockies hat Wednesday.
“My dad loved this game. He absolutely loved it,” Terry said. “He taught me how to love it and because of that love that I have for this game, we’re able to have this. I attribute all this to my dad. I can’t tell you how many hours (Grays co-owner and Terry’s wife) Erica and I (spent) watching the Rockies.”
Terry learned of his father’s passing shortly after the Grays beat Smithfield to advance to the championship series. The game ended when outfielder Hayden Foltz made a diving catch to rob the Blue Sox of the game-tying run.
“And I go, ‘Man, my dad would’ve loved that,’” Terry said. “And I just felt like he was there. … And my phone rang, and he had gone. He passed right at that moment in my mother’s arms at home.
“He just got done watching the Rockies.”
In his Grays shirt and Rockies hat, Terry thanked Pocatello for its support. He’s always called Pocatello a baseball town that was hungry for a team.
It got a winner.
“We just want to thank this city,” Terry said. “It’s because of this city that we have the fans and the support we have, and that we have a campionship team. So thank you, Pocatello. … We can’t wait to see you guys next year.”