A Very Maple-Leafy 2023

By Rob Vona

The 2023 season marked the 55th year that the Toronto Maple Leafs took part in the Intercounty Baseball League and with it, came memories and moments that made the summer what it was. 

Let’s take a stroll through the windy Sunday afternoons and scorching August games that made up the Maple Leafs 2023 season. 

Saturday, April 22 - Return of a legend

The Toronto Maple Leafs welcomed back a familiar face but this time, he’d be taking on a role on the other side of the white lines. 

Rob Butler, former Toronto Maple Leaf and World Series champion with the 1993 Toronto Blue Jays returned to his former IBL team as the team’s manager, looking to lead them to their first championship since 2007.

Sunday, May 14 - A mother’s gift

The Toronto Maple Leafs entered the 2023 season on the heels of a second consecutive loss in the IBL Finals to the London Majors. 

So what better way to kick off the season than picking up right where we left off? Coming back to Dominico Field for a season opener against none other than the Majors.

A slow, quiet game turned into a five-run eighth inning that featured a mad-dash to the plate from first-year Maple Leaf J.J. Dutton scored the winning run, kicking off the 2023 campaign with a win in dramatic fashion.

Thursday, May 25 - Climbing the ranks

In a 14-9 win that saw the Toronto Maple Leafs hand the Kitchener Panthers their first loss of the season, first baseman Jordan Castaldo recorded two hits. 

Castaldo reached another milestone, eclipsing the 600-hit mark in his illustrious IBL career.

Saturday, May 27 - 300: Rise of a conductor

In a 16-5 whallopping of the Brantford Red Sox, third baseman Johnathan “The Conductor” Solazzo recorded three RBI on two hits. 

Solazzo officially cracked 300 RBI in his IBL career dating back to 2010.  

Sunday, June 4 - Remembering our history

The Toronto Maple Leafs opened up the calendar month of June with a home game against the Hamilton Cardinals that commemorated the 90th anniversary of the Christie Pits Riot. 

A pregame ceremony featured a first pitch and a speech from Jennifer McKelvie, the deputy mayor and councilor for Scarborough-Rouge Park. 

The Maple Leafs went on to win the game 8-5 and improve to 7-3 on the season.

Monday, July 10 - From the Pits to the pros

Former Toronto Maple Leaf and Etobicoke, Ont. native Brady Cerkownyk was selected in the 15th round, 440th overall in the 2023 MLB Draft by the Detroit Tigers.

Cerkownyk was drafted as a catcher out of Connors State College.

Thursday, July 27 - Going once, going twice

The Toronto Maple Leafs are officially up for sale. 

The tragic passing of long-time owners Lynne and Jack Dominco in 2008 and 2022 saw the team without an owner for the first time in over 40 years.

The search for an owner who “have a reverence and respect for the century old legacy of the Leafs” and has a “desire and commitment to invest in the revitalization of the team at Christie Pits” officially began.

Sunday, August 6 - 21, can you do something for me?

The Toronto Maple Leafs beat down on the London Majors in a 21-10 win on a Sunday afternoon at Christie Pits. 

The 21 runs mark the highest run-total in a single game in 2023 and the most runs scored since July 29, 2017 as a part of a 26-10 win over the Barrie Baycats. 

Manager Rob Butler was given a golden bat as a part of his induction into the IBL’s top-100 players of all time. 

Solazzo also recorded his 400th regular season hit, while Dutton recorded his first IBL home run. 

First-year Maple Leaf Julian Valdez recorded his longest start in the IBL, posting five strong innings, giving up two runs and striking out six batters en route to the win. 

Tuesday, August 8 - Vini makes a mark

Maple Leafs shortstop Jose Vinicio was named player of the week for the week of July 31. 

The speedy shortstop posted a .611 batting average with three home runs, five RBI, eight runs and two stolen bases. 

Sunday, August 20 - 100 for 32

In a 7-1 win over the Guelph Royals, pitcher Adam Marra pitched one inning of relief, striking out one batter he faced in his 100th career appearance. 

Marra appeared in 23 games for the Maple Leafs in 2023, the most by any pitcher. 

Monday, August 21 - Dan the man

Pitcher Dan Procopio was named pitcher of the week for the week of August 14. 

Procopio posted five innings of shutout baseball in the 7-1 win over the Royals that clinched his squad home-field advantage in the first round of the playoffs.

Wednesday, August 23 - Willy

First-year Maple Leaf Wilgenis Alvarado wrapped up his inaugural IBL season with a league-leading 2.36 ERA.

Alvarado pitched 51 and one-third innings, racking up 49 strikeouts while holding opposing batters to a .187 batting average. 

Wednesday, August 30 - Thank you, next

The Maple Leafs used a 10-4 win over the Guelph Royals to advance to the second round of the IBL Playoffs after taking down the Royals in four games. 

The series win marks the third consecutive season where the Maple Leafs have recorded at least one playoff round victory.

Thursday, September 7 - That’s all folks

In a second round matchup against the Welland Jackfish, the Maple Leafs forced a winner-take-all Game 5 after trailing 2-1 in the series. 

A 7-5 defeat after leading 5-1 saw the Jackfish advance to the IBL Finals, sending the Maple Leafs packing.