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Thursday, 26 May 2011 09:29

Funk looking forward to final season with Indians

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By Chris Jaster — This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Conrad Funk is hoping to go out with a bang this season.

The Swift Current native is heading into his 16th and final season with the Indians with a plan to set the team’s record for most championships by one player.

“I have eight so far and I know Kelly Huraska has eight, so it’s pretty much my last chance to get one up on him,” said Funk.

As impressive as nine championships in 16 seasons would be, it will likely go down as a record that will never be broken.

The WMBL is changing its rules for the 2012 season limiting teams to only have players who still have college eligibility or just finished their senior year of college. There will be three exemptions for Canadian players as long as they’re under the age of 26.

That change would make the goal for Funk’s season unreachable.

It also dictates why he won’t be back in an Indians uniform as a player after this season.

Funk joined the team as a 15-year-old in 1996. Then manager Harv Martinez would take a couple younger local players on the team to give them some experience.

Funk didn’t start play much during that first season with the team, but he started every game the next season. After playing in the infield for his first few seasons he moved out to left field.

The six-foot-three, 215-pound Funk has nothing but fond memories of the last 15 summers.

“I guess it will be over half of my summers during my entire life spent playing for the Indians and it has been great every year,” said Funk, who had a .269 batting average and 26 runs batted in last season. “We’ve had a competitive team every single year. Hopefully, we can be competitive again this year.

“The community and the players that we’ve brought in are just amazing. There haven’t been many players we’ve brought in over the years that haven’t left and said they had the best summer of their life. I’m fortunate enough to come back every year and I couldn’t imagine my summers any other way.”

Even before the rules were changed at the Western Major Baseball League’s annual general meeting in December Funk knew he wanted to return to play at least one more season. Despite finishing 11th out of the Indians’ 15 batters for batting average last season, Funk, along with Shawn Lee and manager Joe Carnahan decided he should come back this season.

Despite knowing this will be his last season in the league, Funk refuses to approach the year any different than he did when he was 24 or 25. He knew every season could be his last after reaching the quarter century mark. As a result, he views every game he plays as a bonus and tries to enjoy them as much as possible.

The even-keeled hometown player is trying to enjoy this upcoming season so much he isn’t even setting out personal goals for himself.

“I’ll just take it day-by-day as a team,” he said. “Obviously we’d like to be first in our division and if we’re fortunate enough be first overall in the league, and hopefully make a good run in the playoffs and take home another championship.”

As Funk prepares to start his final season June 1 when the Indians host the Okotoks Dawgs at Mitchell Field at 7:05 p.m., he will be thinking of how grateful he is to the community for his long baseball career in his hometown.

“It does make me a little more appreciative than some of the guys who have come up here because this team has been around since 1987 and it was always a goal growing up in the minor system
to make the Indians someday,” he said. “I’ve been fortunate enough to play for 16 years now.”

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