It’s been 40 years now, but Keith Wells remembers the arrival of the Pacific Coast League in Edmonton like it was yesterday.
That’s because he was instrumental in naming Edmonton’s baseball team the Trappers.
“There was a contest in the paper to name the team,” said Wells, who was a teenager at the time.
Back in the 1980s, of course, there was no internet voting or submissions. Wells mailed in well over 100 entries to the contest, many of his ballots included the Trappers name.
In January of 1981, the team decided to go with the Trappers.
Although Wells wasn’t the only one to submit that name, he was the lucky winner of a trip to go see major league baseball — courtesy of Trappers owner Peter Pocklington, who also owned the Edmonton Oilers.
“The family got to go to New York City and see Reggie Jackson and the Yankees play.”
“It really was a great prize,” Wells said. “Peter Pocklington sending the whole family to New York for this thing — for a 16-year-old it was really, really quite exciting.”
On top of that, it changed his future — attending the news conference to announcing the Trappers name is what made Wells decide he wanted to work in media.
“I worked in TV in Edmonton and Calgary and Vancouver and Victoria,” said Wells, who added he owes a lot to the Trappers organization.
The Trappers played 24 seasons in Edmonton and won four league titles in that time.
In 2004 the baseball team, which was owned by the Edmonton Eskimos football organization by then, was sold to a company led by former Major League Baseball pitcher and sports executive Nolan Ryan.
The team moved to Texas and was renamed the Round Rock Express. Even after all this time, the Trappers has always had a special place in Wells’ heart, with incredible memories.
“I remember when Nolan Ryan and his group bought the team and moved it away. I felt bad mainly because of that Edmonton Trappers name,” said Wells.
“Because even if I didn’t have any involvement in it, I think it really was — it’s the perfect name.”