46-year drought is over as London Majors capture IBL Championship
It's a moment 11 years in the making for Cleveland Brownlee.
"It's a feeling like no other," says Brownlee.
The native of Atlanta, Georgia moved to London, Ont. in 2010 to play for the London Majors, and never left.
Now the 37-year-old Designated Hitter is an Intercounty Baseball League Champion after the Majors defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs 8-4 in game five of the Dominico Cup final series in front of an electric crowd of 3,300.
"I'm the veteran on the team these guys they stood behind me and I stood with those guys and we fought from the beginning to the end," says Brownlee.
"I don't want the attention on Cleve, you know what I've been here I gave my all, but these guys here tonight, they're the ones that deserve it all,” he says.
One of the players he's talking about is Byron Reichstein.
The left-handed power-hitting Reichstien hit .448 in the post-season with four homeruns and six RBI's en route to winning the playoff MVP trophy.
The 28-year old. hit three-run go-ahead homerun in the third inning provided the boost the Majors needed, and they never looked back.
"After this win, it's a lot of weight off our shoulders," says Reichstein, from St. Thomas, Ont, who didn't have time to celebrate, as he was off to work an overnight shift.
"We were behind, (Marek) Deska is a good pitcher, and I was just looking for that one pitch to get a good barrel on and take it out of the yard. To hear the crowd erupt after the last pitch was the best feeling."
Majors Manager, and co-owner Roop Chanderdat bought the team in 2006, made four trips to the finals before finally ending the team's 46-year Championship drought.
"I'm happy as heck," says Chanderdat.
"It's not just for me, but for everyone for the team, the volunteers, Scott (Dart, Majors' co-owner), for my family, the fans and volunteers. This isn't about me, it's about the whole city of London. We've worked hard to get here and win a championship, and now I'm so happy for everyone.”
The Majors appeared in the final three times during Chanderdat's tenure as manager, but they've finally got over the hump.
"I was such a young boy at that time (in 2006)," says Chanderdat.
"Since I've taken over our goal has been to win a championship, but do it the right way. We knocked on the door and to kick that door down feels really good.”
After Chanderdat and Dart took a photo with IBL Comissioner John Kastner, Brownlee was the first to lift the trophy over his head. He wouldn't answer if he planned on returning for a 12th season now that he's won it all, but he did hint towards a comeback.
"I want to celebrate while we are in the moment," says Brownlee.
"We didn't sleep last night, we're not going to sleep tonight. I don't know we're going to sleep all weekend. We're sleep into next season when it all starts again.”