ROB GODFREY, KEITH STEIN SET TO PURCHASE TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS

2023-11-11 · 3 min read · MLB/Baseball
Maple Leafs Baseball Club

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As the hot stove begins to slowly simmer in MLB front offices across North America, it took little time for Toronto’s baseball market to make a large splash - and no, the Blue Jays aren’t involved.
Toronto’s longest-tenured professional baseball club, the Toronto Maple Leafs, have all but officially announced an ownership change for the first time in the team’s long history. Rob Godfrey, son of ex-Blue Jays CEO Paul Godfrey, and Keith Stein, a lawyer with Dentons Law Firm, are co-owners of the Intercounty Baseball League’s Toronto Maple Leafs.
The deal, confirmed by interim owner Ty Crawford, is allegedly for roughly $1,000,000 - a number set by the estate of Jack Dominico, the man who founded and maintained the Maple Leafs over 54 years until his passing in 2022. The club has been rumoured to have been on the market for a while now, with more than forty offers submitted through Cary Kaplan of Cosmos Sports, who managed the transaction.
One bid, per Cary Kaplan, came from as far away as Abu Dhabi.
The Maple Leafs of Christie Pits pre-date Toronto’s hockey club of the same name, with the first iteration of the ballclub beginning in the early 1890’s before multiple name and location changes occurred. Once an affiliated ballclub with multiple MLB organizations, the most-current product participates as one of the eight teams within the IBL.
A historically successful club, the Maple Leafs have amassed eight championship seasons (the most recent being 2007) while finishing first in the regular season standings nineteen times. Toronto boasts the best over winning percentage of any IBL team ever, and were the first team in IBL history to finish a regular season undefeated at home in 2002.
Ex-Blue Jays World Series Champion Rob Butler managed the squad this past season, which saw the Maple Leafs lose in the semi-finals to the eventual-champion Welland Jackfish. Former Major League Baseball players Pete Orr, the aforementioned Rob Butler, Rich Butler, Paul Spoljaric, Chris Leroux, Angel Castro, and Dustin Richardson have all dawned the white-and-blue, with numerous MLB draftees and MiLB players filling out IBL rosters year after year.
This past season, ex-Blue Jays prospect Wilgenis Alvarado won the IBL Pitcher of the Year Award in his first year with the Maple Leafs, dawning a fantastic 2.36 ERA in the regular season across 53 ⅓ IP, while tossing no fewer than 5 IP in each start from July 1st-September 6th. The outstanding lefty formerly pitched for the Dunedin Blue Jays, but was released early on in 2023.
Other professional ballplayers Jesse Hodges, Julian Junior Valdez, Dan Procopio, Justin Marra, Jose Vinicio, and Evan Elliott also played for the Leafs this past summer.
As the only team in the IBL who does not charge for tickets, revenue has always been a major problem for the organization - the Christie hillside has been a longtime staple of Intercounty League Baseball, though the possibility of revamped seating is a belief many want to see become a reality. Dominico Field is not privately owned, which causes any attempted upgrades to go through a number of municipal hoops - a rare problem to have, contrary to teams such as Welland who own and operate their stadium on privately purchased land. In addition to seating changes, food and beverage services, entertainment, and merchandise availability are other areas to potentially see improvements.
Diehard fans nicknamed The Bushmen - a fan collective who attend near-every Maple Leafs game at the Pits - were formed out of where many fans are forced to sit; the grassy hills. Occasionally unstable broadcast equipment and electricity going into the city-operated announcer’s booth were both problems exacerbated this past year due to a number of factors.
Regardless of the baseball itself, it will be an ever-intriguing next few months for Rob and Keith with the futures of GM Jeff Lounsbury and Assistant GM John Raddi currently up in the air.
The Maple Leafs look to rebound in 2024, following an up-and-down 2023 which saw them finish fourth overall to a record of 21-20. This comes after back-to-back Finals appearances in 2021 and 2022, both times unfortunately losing to the London Majors.
Sports Tree Profile

By: Gus Cousins

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