Even when he’s leading off on third base for the Prince George Knights, Gavin Paterson is a long way from home.
The 15-year-old is a standout baseball player in the region, which is why he is on the 18U Knights at only 15 years of age, but Paterson is from Quesnel so he and his family are on the road almost weekly, sometimes more than once, to keep Paterson on the field for the all-star team. The Knights are otherwise entirely comprised of Prince George players.
He is allowed to be rostered with Prince George because of a regional development protocol with BC Minor Baseball Association that allows for athletes to merge with the regional rep team if their town doesn’t have a challenger squad of their own. Paterson plays on a Quesnel House team (House is an intra-city program that doesn’t travel) when he can, but prioritizes the Knights if there’s an overlap.
The Knights, as part of their development, play in the Prince George Senior Baseball League – adults. Teams in warmer locations of the province get exponentially more games than teams in the north, so this arrangement with the adult league helps the local players close the experience gap. It still amounts to fewer games, but when your opponents are fully grown, even if their best baseball days are behind them, they still do things on the field and at the plate that teenagers would never think of.
“It’s a great experience,” said Paterson. “A lot of the guys take it seriously, and other guys like to just have fun out there. There’s a team of younger guys (in their early 20s, recently graduated from being on the 18U Knights themselves) that’s really good, and they are definitely a challenge. It’s always good to go against them, to get better. A lot of them pitch a lot harder, really strong players.”
Batting is the part of his game that he’s least happy with, this year, but being at the youngest end of the age bracket, that is the natural trajectory of development. Hitting is usually the hardest part of the game, for any baseball player.
On the defensive side, Paterson loves to pitch and when he’s not on the mound he loves being only 67 extra feet away, playing shortstop or second base where so much of the fielding action is. He has the speed and athleticism to also be an outfield option for the team managers, especially since most players on the team are older and thus have more sway on position decisions.
“I’m happy to move around and just do what I can to help the team,” he said.
Paterson was happy to see three House teams in Quesnel this year, in his age bracket, and even more in the young classes. It shows there’s an appetite among kids to play baseball, he said, but lamented the lack of experienced coaching to translate that raw talent into precision talent. The nuanced development is what keeps him, thanks to the commitment of his family, on the road so often to Prince George, and it is paying off, he feels.
“I definitely love baseball. I’ll have to just see how the next couple of years go,” he said. “I’d like to play up here as long as I can. I don’t have things planned, I just want to see how it goes.”
It certainly goes 90 minutes per trip to the ballpark, so he can move in those 90-foot spans between bases.