The Okotoks Dawgs have welcomed Palm Harbor, Florida native Barry Eiseman with open arms in his first season with the team.

Eiseman has proven to be a staple for the Dawgs so far playing in seven of the eight games in the 2024 WCBL season.

The Florida outfielder mentioned that this is the first ever time he has visited Canada and has enjoyed his time north of the USA border.

"Probably the biggest highlight so far has been the crowd, the stadium, and the Rocky Mountains because I'm from Florida. So, I'm used to the beach, haven't really seen any mountains or anything. Going to Banff and seeing all that was unbelievable for me," Eiseman said.

"We went to Banff, the town, and then we went into Lake Louise and hung out there for a while. So, it was really cool."

It wasn't a complete culture shock for him as his current teammate with both the Dawgs and the NCAA's Montevallo Falcons, Connor Crowson, helped prepare him for the differences between Florida and Alberta.

"I lived with Connor Crowson at school, he was my roommate and so I kind of had an idea that I knew it was beautiful and that it had mountains," he said.

Eiseman looking to make contact as he swings at an incoming pitch.Barry Eiseman looking to make contact as he swings at an incoming pitch.

One thing Eiseman had to deal with in Florida was wild alligators, something Canadians wouldn't normally come across other than during a visit to the zoo.

"I have been telling all of (Crowson's) family and all of my Canadian teammates that we used to go fishing in ponds, and everyone up here seems to be super scared of gators. But we would catch them on purpose. We had some kids in our neighbourhood who would grab them and hold them. No one is really scared of gators out there, they are more scared of us," Eiseman explained.

Crowson was a big reason for Eiseman's decision to join the Dawgs squad this year after they lived together in Montevallo during this year's NCAA season. After a few conversations, Eiseman asked Crowson to see if he could join the Dawgs for summer ball. 

Another reason for Eiseman coming up to Okotoks was the winning pedigree Dawgs' pedigree.

"I knew that winning was going to be expected, and I knew we were going to be good. Obviously, baseball is a sport where you are going to lose but, I think we expect to win every game we play. I'm not going to guarantee being undefeated because I don't think that has ever happened anywhere but, we are going to win the majority of our games and we are going to win a lot of them convincingly, I think," he said.

Barry Eiseman being welcomed to the Dawgs on opening day.Barry Eiseman being welcomed to the Dawgs on opening day.

While this is Eiseman's first season with the Dawgs, they have a plethora of talent who have been with the team for years. The veterans have taken new guys like Eiseman under their wing and welcomed them with open arms.

"They've been great, it's really nice, it feels like I fit right in and that I have been here forever. Obviously, having Connor being one of my best friends, that helps a lot too because he knows everyone. So, it's been a really good time and everyone has been great," Eiseman added.

He chose baseball as his sport at the age of three after his dad's love for the game rubbed off on him and his older brothers got involved with the sport. Baseball is the only sport he played growing up, and Eiseman spoke about how grateful he is for the places the sport has taken him.

One of Eiseman's qualities is the patience he brings to the plate. Even with bases loaded, Eiseman doesn't just swing at everything, he waits for the right pitch or will take a walk to first base waiting out the opposition's pitchers.

"That has always been a talent of mine, and I think that comes from my dad instilling that in me when I was young. You got to go up there with a plan and you got to try and look for a pitch. I feel pretty confident in myself with two strikes so, sometimes I'm not scared to take a strike in order to get a better pitch. When I'm hitting good, I feel like there is no way he can sneak three pitches past me, he might be able to get one or two," he said.

"Obviously in this league, the strike zones are a little big, so it's an adjustment. I just like to wait for my pitch."

Eiseman started off his baseball career as a catcher but changed to outfield in his early teens. Sticking in the outfield has worked for him even though he has fond memories of the outfield.

"Once you are out there it's hard to come back into the infield because you need to work on the infield so much. Honestly, it's a lot more peaceful out there than the infield. Infield is a lot more stressful. I'm talking to myself, me and Eiji (Sawamura), I'm always trying to talk to him, he doesn't understand me half the time. It's always fun, I like talking to the little kids out there," Eiseman joked.

Barry Eiseman hanging out with an Okotoks youth before the game against the Edmonton Prospects.Barry Eiseman hanging out with an Okotoks youth before the game against the Edmonton Prospects.

Okotoks has been very kind to Eiseman, who's had plenty of friendly conversations with locals who've recognized him in his Dawgs gear. One place you can find Eiseman is at BarBurrito getting a 'Bang Bang Shrimp' burrito with Crowson before a game.

Eiseman currently has six RBIs and nine hits, batting with a .333 average in the seven games he has dressed for the Dawgs so far into the 2024 WCBL season. His patience at the bat has also earned him six walks to first base.

10 questions with Eiseman

What is your comfort TV show or Movie?

"Got to be How I Met Your Mother, that's kind of like my best background noise if I'm not paying attention, I turn that on."

Have you tried poutine yet?

"Yes, I have, so believe it or not, the only place I have seen poutine in America is in Montevallo, Alabama. A small little town in Alabama. Our restaurant there, The Tavern, which me and Connor eat at all the time, they have poutine and it's really good. Me and Connor have also gone to Costco and got it a couple times. It's really good but I can't eat much though."

Do you have a go-to cheat meal?

"I mean honestly, any type of ice cream. I have never had ice cream and been mad about any flavour."

What is your guilty pleasure song?

"My walk-out song (Drift Away by Uncle Kracker) is my go-to karaoke song, so I will go with that one."

How many ballpark hot dogs can you eat in one sitting?

"If I was hungry and I didn't eat all day, and if I just played a game, I think I could probably get down six or seven."

Favourite baseball team and player growing up?

"Tampa Bay Rays, and Evan Longoria. He was kind of like a childhood hero, I was five years old when I saw his Major League debut. He obviously was a legend with the Rays and best player we ever had. I grew up 15 minutes from the stadium, my dad works there. So, definitely the Rays"

What is one thing you can't live without?

"Probably Apple Music"

If you could meet one person on this planet, who would it be?

"Honestly I would like to meet Joe Rogan, I feel like that would be pretty cool."

If you could have one superpower, what would it be?

"Probably fly, I would like to fly because I'm not very fast. That would make things easier."

Would you rather travel to the past or the future?

"I would rather go to the past because if I went to the future and there was nothing here it would be pretty freaky. But I know what happened in the past. I would like to go back to the beginning of time, like the first people I would like to see. Like how different they were compared to us, or I can go back and invent baseball."

The Okotoks Dawgs will visit the Lethbridge Bulls today with the first of three games in a row at 7:05 p.m. On Saturday, they face the Gulls in Sylvan Lake, and then they'll make their way back to Seaman Stadium for a home game against the Lethbridge Bulls starting at 2:05 on Sunday.