2020 Hall of Fame Inductees
Our second inductee into the PBA Hall of Fame will be Keith Jorgensen. Unfortunately Keith passed away after a long battle with cancer in 2016. Keith will be honoured posthumously by his wife Beverley Jorgensen at this years banquet. The PBA staff would like to thank Bev for writing the following passage about Keith and his influence on the Prairie Baseball Academy from the very beginning: Prairie Baseball Academy was truly a
dream program for four visionary men. In the summer of 1993 Doug Jones
(President of Alberta Baseball), Blair Kubicek (Coach at Edmonds College) ,
Reed Spencer (Scout for Colorado
Rockies) and Dale Tilleman (Scout for the New York Yankees) had an inspiring conversation in regard to a Canadian
College Baseball program. From this
simple but profound idea they then approached Alberta Sport Council for support and the sport council responded quickly with a great deal of enthusiasm. Doug, Dale and Reed added a new recruit, Keith Jorgensen to their roster and they headed to Medicine Hat to meet with
Wayne Schlosser, Lovell McDonnell and
Kevin Friesen. In October 1994, Keith was elected the first President of PBA, Doug,
the Vice-President, Dale, the Secretary-Treasurer and Board members were: Reed Spencer, Wayne Schlosser and Wayne Guenter. And Prairie Baseball Academy
Keith served as President from 1994-
2001. Many challenges were forthcoming
in the early years as the program took shape. Keith was instrumental in drafting the PBA Constitution and PBA Mission Statement. As partnerships were formed with the University of Lethbridge and the Lethbridge Community College educational needs of the students were met. Between these two institutions, student athletes
are able to receive excellent training in almost any field that they might choose to enter. Many meetings were held with the City of Lethbridge to develop a plan for a much needed facility. Construction was
soon underway and Lloyd Nolan Yard became a reality with a grand opening in September 1999. PBA sponsored many winter and summer Instructional, Conditioning, Hitting and Pitching
Seminars and Camps for youth in
Southern Alberta. Coaches and Umpires Conventions were offered in conjunction
with the annual PBA Awards Banquet.
Keith served on the Board of Directorsfrom 1994-2016 as the
Business/Promotions manager. He had a variety of responsibilities: player registration, fund-raising, media guide program, awards banquet chairman, tournament organizer, and could almost always be found during home games at the barbecue or helping out in the concession.
As the program grew and young men came from all across Canada to hone their baseball skills with a desire to gain an education in their chosen career paths, Keith envisioned a Scholarship program that would encourage and help them to achieve both of these goals. And so the PBA Caddie Classic was formed. His goal was to bring together a community of like-minded golfers, to introduce them to PBA Baseball players and have a fun and rewarding day playing golf. To Keith's delight the first PBA Golf Tournament was a great success which resulted in a very successful Scholarship program too.
Prairie Baseball Academy was the perfect venue for Keith. He loved children, teaching, baseball, golf and being involved in his community. The Academy certainly provided Keith the opportunity to do all that he held dear to his heart and more.
As his family we feel a deep sense of pride that Keith will have a place of honor on the Wall of Fame for Prairie Baseball Academy. We know how much he loved baseball and especially this program, so we thank you for this tribute to his legacy. ~ Beverley Jorgensen and Family
Prairie Baseball Academy would like to recognize Rick Paskal as the next inductee into our Hall of Fame. Rick was one of the original gold sponsors of the PBA program. Rick
served as the second President of PBA from 1998-2002. It was clear from day one that Rick valued the community and had a vision to produce a state of the art facility at Lloyd Nolan Yard. Rick spent countless hours working with contractors and the City of Lethbridge to create a baseball facility that could be home to a Canadian college baseball program. Rick did all of this work while running his own successful trucking, cattle and feedlot business.
Rick was a firm believer that academics must come first for PBA to thrive. He always made sure to acknowledge both post-secondary institutions and the vital role they played in the success of the program. All three of his sons: Kurtis, Kevin, and Craig played for PBA and have since joined the family operation out in Picture Butte, AB.
Rick and the Paskal family have remained incredibly supportive of PBA through the years, donating thousands of dollars at fundraisers and banquets. The Paskal Family purchase the PBA Work Package in our live auction at the PBA Banquet almost every single year. The players come out to the farm for a day and pick hundreds of rocks out of the fields. Waiting for them at the end of the day is one of the best steak dinners you can imagine, all the fixings, for thirty or more hungry young players, it is a sight to see. Simply said, our program would not be the same without Rick's commitment, leadership, and strong values. We appreciate your dedication to our community and belief that pursuing a career in baseball is best paired with strong values and a quality education.
Two of our Hall of Fame Committee members along with Coach Hubka were able to get out to Picture Butte before the holidays to speak with Rick about what this honour means to him. As always, Rick was hesitant and humbled by the praise he was receiving. Rick continued to say “He was a little unsure what he did to deserve such a big honour, he was just being a dad.” Which sums up what an amazing person Rick is.
We at the Prairie Baseball Academy cannot thank Rick enough for being an amazing father, and literally helping build Lloyd Nolan Yard.
The Prairie Baseball Academy is proud to next induct Larry Nolan into our Hall of Fame. Prairie Baseball Academy owes an overwhelming debt of gratitude to Larry Nolan for his generous support from the very beginning of the PBA program.
Larry was first introduced and fell in love with the game of baseball as a youngster. He and his cousin, Keith Jorgensen (also inducted into the PBA HOF in 2020) played on the same Little League team in 1955. When the boys got a little older, Lloyd Nolan, Larry's older brother coached them and shared the same passion for baseball as the two young men. In 1996, Keith Jorgensen and Coach Kubicek met with Larry at his home. The group of men sat at the kitchen table and Larry was asked if he would become a Gold Sponsor of PBA. Larry said yes and was elated that he had an opportunity to give back to a baseball program in Southern Alberta. This was the beginning of an incredible relationship between Larry and PBA that has lasted through to this day.
Fast forward to 1997, Rick Paskal and Coach Kubicek approached Larry in regard to a donation towards the construction of a new facility for PBA. Once again Larry answered with a resounding yes! The wheels were set in motion, The City of Lethbridge was on board, a location was determined and construction began under the expertise of Rick Williams. Coach Kubicek and Rick Paskal were the driving forces behind getting the facilities built: Blair had the vision, and Rick was the
“man who walked with a big stick.” Larry was so pleased to see the speed with which the facility took shape. Not long after breaking ground on the North Side of Lethbridge was the facility complete, the only detail left was to add a name to the facility. The Nolan family was consulted and it was determined that this baseball complex would be named “Lloyd Nolan Yard.”
Recently, Larry was asked “Why would you choose to contribute in such a large way?” Larry replied “In my business I have had an opportunity to help others and I am grateful that I could.” Larry expressed how special it is to have had baseball players approach him, shake his hand and say thank you. These special moments to Larry are what have made it all worthwhile. Baseball has always had a tender spot in Larry's heart and he is so pleased that PBA has brought the best to Southern Alberta. A closing thought from Larry and a quote:
“Baseball has grown so much over the last 25 years, and it is clear the role that the Prairie Baseball Academy has had contributing to that growth.”
Our 6th and final inductee into the PBA Hall of Fame for 2020 is Dustin Molleken. Dustin is the first and only player from PBA to play in the MLB. Originally from Regina, Saskatchewan, Dustin came to PBA in 2003 after playing with the Canadian Junior National Team. Dustin had a successful year with PBA and was drafted in the 15th round by the Pittsburgh Pirates. Dustin was 18 years old in 2003, he is 35 years old now, still competing at the highest level. Dustin will represent Canada at the 2020 Olympic qualifier in Arizona this March and hopefully at the Olympics in Tokyo, Japan this summer. Dustin has had an incredible career spanning close to two decades in the game of baseball and we are proud to say that PBA was one of the early stops in Dustin's journey.
The PBA coaching staff is extremely proud to boast about Dustin's success. The following list is a glimpse into what this man has accomplished and where Dustin has been in his baseball career:
2002 : Played for the Canadian Junior National Team
2003 :Played at PBA. Drafted by the Pirates in the 15th Round
2003-11 Played in the Pirates organization
2011 : Signed with the Colorado Rockies (AA, AAA)
2011 : Competed with Team Canada at the Pan Am Games. Won Gold.
2012/13 : Signed in Japan for the Nippon Ham Fighters.
First ever Canadian player to pitch in the Japan World Series.
2014 : Signed with the Milwaukee Brewers (AAA - Nashville Sounds)
2015 : Signed with the Cleveland Indians (AAA - Columbus Clippers)
2016 : Signed with the Detroit Tigers (AAA - Toledo Mud Hens)
Made his big league debut on July 4th, 2016 Vs. Cleaveland Indians Pitched against the Toronto Blue Jays @ Rogers Centre
2017 : Played with the Toledo Mud Hens
2018 : Played with the Somerset Patriots in the Atlantic League
2019 : Competed with Team Canada at the Pan Am Games. Won Silver.
2020: Will compete in the 2020 Olympic Qualifier
Hopefully Team Canada qualifies and Dustin is in Tokyo for the Olympics.
Coach Hubka had this to say about Dustin and what he means to PBA:
“Dustin was only with us for one year, but he was one of the best teammates and players a coach could ask for. The guy would give you the shirt off his back in a snowstorm, it's just the kind of person he is. The Prairie Baseball Academy is proud to have Dustin as an alumni and a role model for our current players to look up to. Dustin has accomplished a tremendous amount in his life because of baseball, including his beautiful family that we are so very excited will be joining us at the banquet on February 1st to receive this honour.”