‘It’s a letdown not getting to play there with those crowds this season,’ says 27-year-old bench boss who’s on the rise in Mariners’ organization

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Louis Boyd is a fan of Nat Bailey Stadium, even though Nat Bailey’s regulars would be no fans of his in any other baseball season.


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Boyd, a 27-year-old North Vancouverite, is in his second season as manager of the Everett AquaSox, a West League rival of the Vancouver Canadians.

Due to border restrictions brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, the C’s currently don’t have Nat Bailey as their home turf. Instead, they’re playing their home games out of Ron Tonkin Field, sharing the ballpark just outside Portland with the Hillsboro Hops, another West League club.

Because of this, Boyd is missing out on chances to come home in the middle of his season and play games in front of family and friends. He contends his players are missing out on playing in front of what’s usually a supercharged, raucous environment at “the Nat.”

The past few summers, the C’s have frequently sold out their ballpark, which has a capacity of 6,413. Six of the eight teams in Vancouver’s old Northwest League drew under 3,500 fans a game in 2019, by comparison.

“It’s a different atmosphere. It’s something cool for each guy to experience,” said Boyd, who was a regular in the grandstands at Nat Bailey when he was a kid and whose first game as Everett’s manager in 2019 was there. “I know the players really enjoy playing there.

“It’s a letdown not getting to play there with those crowds this season.”

The C’s, who are the High-A affiliate of the Toronto Blue Jays, have had three series so far this season against the AquaSox, who are a Seattle Mariners’ farm club. Canadians president Andy Dunn says that Boyd has routinely quizzed him about when games at Nat Bailey might resume. Boyd admits he’s done just that.

“I’ve been pushing for when we’re getting over the border,” Boyd said.


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Dunn has maintained that the C’s will start up at Nat Bailey as soon as possible after border restrictions are lifted, including the quarantines. The C’s kept some staff members in Vancouver to help jump-start any transition.

The provincial government is in Phase 3 of its four-stage restart plan that allows for outdoor gatherings of 5,000 people or 50 per cent capacity, depending on which is greater.

The current border regulations are in place until at least July 21. As luck would have it, that’s two days into a six-game home set for Vancouver against Everett. It’s highly unlikely that the league would let the teams change venues in the middle of a series, though.

West League teams are playing six-game sets, with every Monday off, this season.


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Assuming that the border opens up in that couple of weeks time, Vancouver’s first series at Nat Bailey would likely begin Aug. 3 and, somewhat fittingly, be against Hillsboro.

The C’s have two series after that with the AquaSox, but both are in Everett. Vancouver’s regular season finale is Sept. 19, closing out a home set with Hillsboro.

‘It’s a different atmosphere. It’s something cool for each guy to experience,’ Everett manager Louis Boyd says of bringing his team to Nat Bailey Stadium to face the Vancouver Canadians.
‘It’s a different atmosphere. It’s something cool for each guy to experience,’ Everett manager Louis Boyd says of bringing his team to Nat Bailey Stadium to face the Vancouver Canadians. Photo by Shari Sommerfeld Images

Minor league baseball was revamped last winter and the C’s, AquaSox, Hops and three other teams from the short-season, Single-A Northwest League were promoted two rungs on the development ladder to High A and the West League. They also all went from a 76-game schedule to a 120-game one.

The AquaSox have been the class of the circuit so far. Going into Thursday, Everett (35-19) was in first place and had outscored its opponents by 150 runs. The Eugene Emeralds (34-21) were next best, and they had outscored their opponents by 27 runs. Vancouver (28-28) sat third and had given up seven more runs than they had scored.


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This all has to look good on Boyd, who would seem to be a rising star in the managing ranks. He’s only a year older than Everett’s oldest player. The Mariners kept him in Everett even though the team jumped levels in competition. 

The Mariners drafted Boyd, who was then a middle infielder at the University of Arizona, in the 24th round in 2017. He played two seasons in their system, hit .207 over 97 games at two lower-level stops in 2018 and decided that coaching was a better fit for him.

Seattle agreed and had him on the coaching staff at Single-A Modesto in 2019. The Everett managing job came open that July due to the Mariners mutually agreeing to part ways with Jose Moreno, and the Mariners put Boyd in charge of the Everett dugout then. The team went 19-19 under Boyd and the Mariners announced in January 2020 that he was going to be back in charge in Everett that summer. That campaign, of course, was wiped out completely by COVID-19.


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Boyd spent part of the pandemic shutdown working with the North Shore Twins, the B.C. Premier League team with which he had played. According to North Shore coach Brooks McNiven, Boyd helped improve the Twins’ off-season hitting program as well as integrate new technology.

Boyd also studied psychology, saying that a major part of his job is “connecting players as well as possible,” and “understanding many different personalities on a given day.” Among the techniques he’s worked on is motivational interviewing. By textbook definition, it’s a “directive, client-centred counselling style for eliciting behaviour change.” Boyd describes it as “knowing when to ask the right question at the right time” to get players to steer themselves into that next step of their development.

The Mariners “take pride in aholistic approach” with each player, Boyd said.

He was asked how manager Boyd would have approached infielder Boyd, and that prompted a quick chuckle.

“There would have been a lot of questions to ask. There was a lot of development that needed to take place there,” he continued.



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