Medicine Hat Big League Baseball was initially introduced to Medicine Hat in 1984 by then president of Medicine Hat Little League, Wally Giesbrecht. The first phase of Big League Baseball (it was not officially incorporated as Big League by the Societies Branch of Alberta until 1989) was the introduction of High School Baseball. All three Medicine Hat High Schools joined the Southern Alberta High School Baseball League under one umbrella and baseball interest began its comeback for the youth (18 years and under) in Medicine Hat. The Moose Monarchs began in 1986 as a Class “A” program to allow the program to develop and establish the level of play the program wanted to pursue.
Because the High School League finished play in May and player interest was still high, Mr. Giesbrecht entered Medicine Hat in the competitive Montana/Alberta American Legion Baseball program in 1985. High school players wishing to continue playing throughout the summer could try out for the American Legion team. At that time High School and American Legion baseball were both under the same wing as the local Little League baseball association. The summer team played in the Class “B”(now called class A) program in the North District of the Montana program. They were called the Medicine Hat Monarchs. Wayne Schlosser became the first Monarchs head coach in 1985 and continued his involvement with the Monarchs in varying capacities from director, manager & treasurer before resuming the head coaching helm again in 1990; a position he held until 2001.
In 1988 the Moose Monarchs advanced to the Class “A” Regional tournament in Eugene Oregon as the 2nd seed from Montana/Alberta. They posted a record of 41 wins and 9 losses this season which included winning 2 – “AA” Tournaments – one in Spokane, Washington and another in Williston, North Dakota. The Montana/Alberta Chairman then decided that Medicine Hat would move to the “AA” level for the 1989 season. By this time the number of players interested in playing had grown and both the Class “A” (Knights) and the Class “AA” (Moose Monarchs) teams were organized to compete in the Montana/Alberta American Legion Baseball program.
In 1986 Lovell McDonnell joined Wayne in coordinating and expanding the program. Both Lovell and Wayne offered the finest in youth baseball for local area players that are recognized to be one of the best programs in the province. As of 2019 Lovell is still the driving force behind the program. Interest in baseball at the High School and American Legion level grew throughout the next few years, and as expectations and travel commitments expanded so did the budget. Although the Monarchs secured local sponsorship (in 1986 they were sponsored by Gershaw Gulf; in 1987 they were sponsored by Black’s Sports), this mini-program was becoming too expansive for the Little League Executive. A new Association would best serve the needs of the youth baseball enthusiast, and thus, the Monarchs would have the vehicle whereby they could secure their own source of funding, and choose their own direction in operations on and off the field. In 1988, incorporation documents were filed and the Medicine Hat Big League Baseball Association was officially founded in January of 1989. It was also in 1988 that the Moose Lodge became the flagship sponsor of the American Legion program and the team became known as the Medicine Hat Moose Monarchs. To this day the Moose Lodge continues to be a great sponsor of the program.
From 1984 to 2001 Medicine Hat Big League Baseball coordinated both the High School League (April – June), the Montana/Alberta American Legion Baseball program (June – August) and a Fall Baseball Program (September – Mid-October) for Medicine Hat and area youth. In 2002 it was decided that that each High School team would operate its own program and budget under the Big League umbrella for support in scheduling and facilities. Medicine Hat Big League Baseball now offers a Class “AA” (Moose Monarchs), a Class “A” (Medicine Hat Knights – sponsored by the Knights of Columbus – Joe McKenna & Dean Fitzpatrick Councils) and from 2014 to 2017 a Class “B” (Majestics – sponsored by the Saamis Rotary Club from 2015 to 2017) American Legion programs. Class “AA” is comprised of the more skilled/older players; Class “A” is a feeder team for the Moose Monarchs comprised mainly of 15, 16 and 17 year old players and Class “B” is made up of players not able to make the rosters of Class A and AA. The Class “B” category allows the opportunity to accommodate more players in the years where there are larger player registration numbers.
High school baseball is a spring program where the majority of the American Legion players compete prior to the summer season. As players are still attending high school classes the schedule is less demanding and with a larger pool of players the skill level is spread among various teams. American Legion baseball is more demanding, both skill and time-wise, and much more competitive. American Legion Baseball competition also best prepares players for those wishing to advance to the next level of play. The Fall Baseball program varies and is made up of American Legion players who are still eligible to play as well as Junior Little League aged players who would be eligible to try out for the program after graduated from Little League.
Funding is obtained from various avenues including Bingos, Casinos, Sponsorship Donations, Selling of Ads in the Annual Souvenir Program, Player Registration Fees and Tournament Gate Admission. Players and parents, as volunteers, are an integral part of fund-raising.