During his first season, Travis was on the coaching lines. His past four years, Heiser has been general manager, which means success or failure rests on his shoulders. Failure has not been an option. Travis gave me the two highlights, as far as he is concerned, of this past season. “Winning a dozen games in a row, which broke the league record, and pitcher Jesse Buratt throwing a no-hitter ( first in league history) against Albany”.
Fun at the ballpark is made possible through Heiser piloting a crew comprised of nine volunteers, and assistant general manager, someone handling the music for all in attendance to enjoy, and a few others, coaching,too. And the winning on the field came under the leadership- of first year manager Roberto Vaz. “There were 60 applicants for the manager’s position”, Heiser tells. “His (Roberto) resume stuckout. Robert played division 1 baseball, he’s in the junior college sports hall of fame, and won a national college title”. The final selection of Vaz resulted , after the process was narrowed down to five, for Travis and Dittmann to make the call to the new skipper.
I have a couple lasting memories of Vaz hustling about the well groomed grass landscape of Vets Park. Where I saw the kids going through their pre-game drills, there was Vaz joining in, setting a fine example for all to see. “Roberto respected the community, he got along with the kids, and he wanted to win”,Travis explains. “Many of the players told me that they were more prepared for games, and learned more in two months here, than at their college programs”.
Caleb Thielbar, currently pitching for the Minnesota Twins organization is a product of the DiamondDawgs program. He played his college ball at South Dakota State, and in August 2011 was signed by the Twins.
Success at Vets Park translates into a very good relationship with the City of Little Falls. “The Mohawk Valley, as a whole, along with the city, have been supportive of our efforts. We draw our fans from a 20-30 mile radius of Little Falls”, Heiser, a Canajoharie native, said. The general manager is well aware that building relationships with the public and business community are vital to continue operation of baseball in Little Falls. Probably, at the end of September is when the Dawgs will announce the date of their annual hot stove dinner, and the names of those who will be honored. In the past former New York Mets Howard Johnson, Ron Darling, Yankee Tommy John, and others have been brought in to make major league memories.
A school teacher before and after the summer baseball season, Travis Heiser is a man on the go, and baseball fans in the Mohawk Valley continue to benefit from his energy. Take a curtian call, Travis, you hit a grandslam this Dawgs season.