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Still chief among Whalley Chiefs, owner Hargreaves takes step back from baseball duties

‘It’s a big load off my plate,’ says the 72-year-old
Whalley Chiefs owner Paul Hargreaves in the stands at Whalley Athletic Park, where the baseball club’s Premier squad opens the 2024 season on Saturday, April 13, 2024. (File photo: Tom Zillich)

It’s time to play ball again in the B.C. Premier Baseball League (PBL) as April marks the start of another season of games in Surrey and a dozen other cities across the province, in three age divisions (Premier 18U, Junior 16U and Bantam 15U).

The senior Whalley Chiefs get going on the road Thursday, April 11 against White Rock Tritons, followed by a double-header of afternoon home games versus North Shore Twins on Saturday, April 13, with the first pitch at noon at Whalley Athletic Park.

Chiefs owner Paul Hargreaves sees promise in his Premier squad, which missed the playoffs in 2023, will host the PBL championships this summer and is led by a new coaching staff and management.

After nearly a quarter-century run as Chiefs GM, Hargreaves has taken a step back to allow others to be more involved in baseball operations (duties now assumed by Steve Grewal).

The senior team is now coached by Jason Boldt along with pitching coach Mike Ferguson, assistant coach Scott Schneider and hitting coach Brett Sakaki.

“Jason Boldt comes from the Coquitlam Reds, where he was the junior coach,” Hargreaves noted. “We’re glad to have him, and he brought his pitching coach with him, Mike Ferguson. This is a quality, quality pair. These guys think the same, they’re about the same age, they both went to college at the same time. I’ve got a real nice staff there at the senior level, with Brett Sakaki and Scotty Schneider, too. These are baseball guys, and I’m excited about this team this year.”

Travis Grozdanich manages the Junior Chiefs this season, and Jason Brooks is in charge of the Bantam squad.

Whalley Chiefs owner Paul Hargreaves in the stands at Whalley Athletic Park, where the baseball club’s Premier squad opens the 2024 season on Saturday, April 13, 2024. (File photo: Tom Zillich)

At age 72, Hargreaves is happy to let others be more involved in the team he’s owned and operated since 2000.

“I got out of a lot of the day-to-day stuff now, with Steve Grewal doing most of that now and Jae Lee Treit running a lot of the financial stuff,” said Hargreaves, who worked for General Motors in Detroit for 33 years, in sales and logistics, before transferring to Vancouver in 1998.

“I’m not as involved as I used to be, and it’s a big load off my plate,” he added. “I’m more focused on attracting coaches, the financial end of business, with sponsors and sponsorships. Money talks in this, and if you can get the latest equipment — everything is so expensive, the technology and all that. It’s so different than 25 years ago.”

In the winter months Hargreaves lives in Avondale, Arizona, and sees plenty of baseball games as both a fan and stadium usher in nearby Surprise, spring-training home of Texas Rangers and Kansas City Royals.

For the Chiefs teams in Whalley, rosters were solidified a couple months ago.

“As a rule, and most teams in the PBL are like this, fall ball is basically a tryout for winter and spring ball,” Hargreaves explained. “So when you come out to play fall ball, you better show us what you know and what you can do.

“We’ve graduated kids nicely,” he added. “We’ve got 57 total players on the three teams — 21 and 18 and 18 (players) on each of them. With the seniors we have 11 Grade 12s, seven grade 11s who’ll be here next year and the following year, and three kids that we have classed as over-age, which is a PBL rule that allows kids to play an extra year in the league if they need to.”

• RELATED, from 2023: Soggy start to baseball season for Whalley Chiefs, who have Springenatic back on the bench.

Coached by Dennis Springenatic, the 18U Chiefs underachieved last season, Hargreaves says.

”Something was missing on that team, I believe,” he said. “They had some decent pitching but just couldn’t get the results, not sure why. They were in a lot of games but blew some leads and missed the playoffs. This year’s team is a little different, and Whalley is hosting the PBL championships this year, so we’ve got an automatic berth into the final eight. Even with that I feel that team could finish top-six.”

Chiefs rosters, schedules and more are found on On social media, follow

Tom Zillich

About the Author: Tom Zillich

I cover entertainment, sports and news stories for the Surrey Now-Leader, where I've worked for more than half of my 30-plus years in the newspaper business.
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