As David Maberry walked into the very wet Ottawa Stadium on Tuesday afternoon, he couldn’t help but think back on his short stay with the Ottawa Titans.
Maberry’s start in Ottawa, and the Frontier League, came in February when he was signed after being acquired from the Ogden Raptors of the Pioneer League. At the time, it was a move that had long starved baseball fans in Ottawa excited about the future, as Maberry had spent the previous season crushing just about everything with the Raptors in his first professional season. In that 2021 season, Maberry had a jaw-dropping batting average of .412, while slugging 10 home runs and 73 RBIs in 74 games.
Simply put, his numbers were spectacular, and it wasn’t difficult to see what Titans’ manager Bobby Brown and the Ottawa Titans saw in him. But that doesn’t always translate to success with a new team. For Maberry, things didn’t go as planned with the Titans, and after just 11 games with Ottawa, he was traded to the Sussex County Miners for a player to be named later. It wasn’t for a lack of ability or performance, as Maberry was hitting .282 with a home run and seven RBIs, far from his potential, but still not bad by any stretch. Rather, it was a tough situation for both Brown and Maberry, and the trade was what the team felt was best for both parties.
“David was splitting time here, and he’s kind of a rhythm hitter,” Brown said. “I didn’t know if he was ever going to get the consistent at-bats here and we had some players on the inactive list that were coming back. We had been carrying an extra position player, and I thought it was the time in the season where [we needed to make the move].”
In the immediate aftermath, Maberry struggled to come to grips with the trade. It came immediately following three games where the Titans swept the Miners, but Maberry didn’t get on the bus to head to the next destination. Instead, he was informed of the trade, and stayed in New Jersey, forced to say his goodbyes to some close friends he wasn’t expecting to never play with again.
“I had great friends here,” Maberry said. “It was a great group of people, and I have friends on the team that I still talk to. We had some great memories here. I’d be lying if I said that day I got traded wasn’t tough for me, both on the baseball side, but also on the life side. That was a crazy 72 hours for me.”
Although the first emotion was shock, it didn’t take long for the slugger to realize that this move could be the best thing for his career. After all, he’s still a young 24-year-old ball player who is trying to work his way into affiliated ball. His new teammates in Sussex County quickly latched on to Maberry and made him feel like one of the guys.
“Sussex County just really welcomed me in,” Maberry said. “I really love the coaching staff, and it was just open arms that week with the way the trade was with me staying there in New Jersey [after the series had ended]. It was a really smooth transition and I think that entire essence of it just allowed me to get in the box comfortably and say ‘hey, this is me.’ I can’t complain, I love it here.”
While the numbers weren’t as high as they had previously been while Maberry was in Ottawa, that quickly changed when he swapped uniforms. Maberry swiftly found himself towards the top of the leaderboards for the Miners in numerous statistical categories on offence, but the talent didn’t suddenly appear when he got to Sussex County.
“I’m playing every day,” Maberry said. “I’m seeing the ball every day, I’m able to get into a rhythm and do what I can do. I don’t think there’s much else to it.”
But with a return to Ottawa last week, Maberry found himself going back and forth deciding if there was any added importance to the series. On one hand, this was a team that had just traded him without seeing what he was truly capable of, but on the other hand, he was happy with the Miners.
“You do ask that, and the first thing you think is ‘yea, I want to go 12-for-12, I want to go off,’ but I was steering away from that,” Maberry said. “I wanted to keep doing what I’m doing and keep the same approach. Did I want to win those three games badly? Yes. Is there animosity [between the Titans and I]? No. It’s baseball, this is a business, and I understand that.”
“Ottawa was first in the standings, we were in third, so it was a big series for us,” he continued. “Regardless of me being traded, I wanted to win for my team.”
It wasn’t just wanting to beat his former team and seeing old friends that made his return special. Maberry says that while in Ottawa, he was supported by a handful of groups of fans who made his time special, and he was really excited to see them again.
“There were a certain amount of fans here who really supported me and who have kept in touch on social media with me since then,” Maberry said. “That really resonates when I’m here. I was also getting used to Canadian culture. In my first week here, I went to a Senators game, I was getting the poutine and stuff, so I definitely got my Canadian fix.”
That fan support has continued in Sussex County, however. Maberry believes that to be thanks to his beautiful beard and slight resemblance to the Miners’ mascot.
“It’s kinda funny, the mascot has a big beard and there are shirts there that say ‘fear the beard,’ so it mixes in well,” he said. “They have been super supportive of me since I have been there.”
To say that the series went well for the Miners would be an understatement. They became the first team to sweep the Titans over a three-game series, the first team to win a series in Ottawa, other than the Titans, of course, and the first team to beat the Titans in a series since the Florence Y’alls at the start of the season. For Maberry, the three games earned him five hits and two RBIs, and he had numerous good at-bats to help steal his team three wins.
“I felt good at the plate,” said Maberry. “Each day is a new day and I’m trying to keep the same good approaches on every specific at-bat. I’m trying to do my job to help us win.”
“It just felt good to win, no added feelings. It’s just a good series win regardless.”
The series sweep of the Titans came after the Miners beat the Quebec Capitales two out of three games, as they continue to climb towards the top of the Eastern Conference standings.
“It felt awesome,” Maberry said. “We beat Quebec two out of three, just swept Ottawa, and we’re rolling right now.”
But was it the coming-out party the Miners are hoping for? Maberry isn’t sure, but he’s happy with the way they have been playing as of late.
“You say that, and I think everything is just coming together right now,” he said with a laugh. “We’re finding that consistency. I think we have a great team and I think we are going to continue with this.”
On the Ottawa side of the field, Brown doesn’t like seeing Maberry do damage against his team, but he’s happy that he is now getting the chance to showcase his talents on a more consistent basis.
“I’ve been doing this for a long time, and I’ve got guys from other teams, traded guys to other teams, or released somebody, and you know, you just have to make the best decision you can for your club and for the player,” Brown said.
“I’m happy for David,” he continued. “He loves baseball, and he has an opportunity to play every day. We just didn’t have the everyday at-bats for him at the time, and it gives him the opportunity to play every day.”
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