Penticton’s Daniel Martin, who plays with the Langley Blaze, will play baseball with Team B.C. at the Canada Summer Games which start on July 28 in Winnipeg. Matthew Claxton/Black Press

Penticton athlete swinging for gold at Canada Games

Daniel Martin is competing at the 2017 Canada Summer Games with Team B.C. in baseball

Like many little kids in Canada, Daniel Martin’s mom would be calling him home from playing his favourite sport when the street lights came on.

Except for Martin that sport didn’t include a puck and a stick.

Daniel Martin
“Oh yeah, for sure that was me growing up. I had a park across from my house and whenever I had a chance I was over there hitting baseballs. My mom would have to call me in when it got late because I didn’t want to stop,” said the 16-year-old who will be representing Team B.C. on the baseball field at the Canada Summer Games July 28 to Aug. 13.

It wasn’t that he was adverse to other sports, Martin was also a good hockey player and had talent on the basketball court, but there was just something about baseball.

“I stopped playing those other sports seriously in Grade 8 and focused on baseball. They are more just my hobbies now, I felt I was strongest at baseball and maybe have a future in it,” said Martin. “It’s a lot more of a mental game. It takes a lot more thinking to play and not just anyone can do it. To me baseball is more than just a game.”

The third baseman for Team B.C. started playing in Penticton and then joined the roster with the Okanagan Athletics in the B.C. Premier Baseball League. Having a good season there, he then decide his best chance at success in the future lies with the Langley Blaze, in the same league but with the senior team. The move away from home, proved to be worth it. They finished the regular season in second place with 30 wins and 14 losses. On Thursday Martin and the Blaze will play against four other teams for the league championship.

“It’s been really good this year, it tough adjusting to the level of play but I have found a groove and figured out what I was doing right and wrong,” said Martin who was tied 14th overall for best batting average during the playoffs

It was during one of his Blaze games he found out he made the cut for Team B.C. It wasn’t a dramatic phone call, email or text that alerted him he made the squad either. He learned of the news in a fitting place.

“It is kind of a funny story. I was playing first base in a game against White Rock and one of their guys got a hit and made it to my base. In between pitches he said congratulations to me. I said ‘oh, about what?’ And he told me I made the Canada Games team. It took me a few pitches to settle back into the game because I was excited about it. Right after the game I called my mom, who still lives in Penticton, and my grandparents, both have been my biggest supporters,” said Martin.

With his focus currently on helping the Blaze win the league championship, next up he said is the Summer Games where he knows B.C. will need to have big games against defending national champion Saskatchewan and the always talented Team Ontario. As for his future, well he hopes to earn college scholarship and maybe one day get drafted just like former Blaze player and Pentictonite Dustin Houle, a catcher with the Biloxi Shuckers — a AA affiliate with the Milwaukee Brewers.

“It’s really cool that he was drafted. He is an alumni and came out to an indoor hitting session one day and found me. He was sharing stories with me about adjusting to this level of baseball. He definitely is a role model and it is neat to see a guy from my same town go and do the stuff he has done. I want to keep working hard so maybe I can also follow in those footsteps,” said Martin.

Team B.C. plays in Group A with Saskatchewan, Alberta and Quebec. Their first game is on July 29 against Alberta.