Leaside Baseball Association prepares early for a busy 2010 schedule
Something unusual is happening in Leaside, teams are already out on the field practising and it’s April.
It was an observation Leaside Baseball Association president Howard Birnie has made as the 2010 season gets into full swing.
With hockey winding down the folks living around Howard Talbot Park are looking for the next main event.
“After the school break, hockey’s finished or finishing and people are starting to think, ‘What am I going to do for the summer?’ ” Birnie said. “Right now it looks relatively the same as the last year couple of years, which is fine.”
One of the boosts of a season is the hogtown’s home team: Toronto Blue Jays.
“The biggest thing that happened obviously was the Blue Jays,” he said. “That led us to a very significant growth and this is throughout Ontario and Canada until the year after their second World Series.”
It’s not just sportstalk for Birnie as he has seen it all, being an avid baseballer for 47 years.
He’s hoping the Bluebirds can make their bats sing in future seasons, so their younger fans
“It creates a buzz and the more kids get an interest in baseball,” he said.
One team that led the charge Leaside’s last season was its juniors. They won the AAA Championship title under the tutelage of new coach Kent Duncan.
“I really enjoyed it last season,” Duncan said while watching the New York Yankees play the Philadelphia Phillies on television.
Lassoed in to take the helm of a coachless team last season, Duncan was more than pleased to take his team all the way.
Though he said the juniors have some gaps to fill including at catcher, where the heart and soul of the team was last year with Jeremy Hopkins, Duncan still has a solid core of players returning.
For Duncan, the most enjoyable part of the game is the camaraderie shared by diamond denizens.
“Well I love everything about baseball,” he said. “A good friend that I learned from called it a civilized game. We don’t have to worry about hits to the head and concussions, very rarely.
“It’s actually a very difficult game. Not a lot of people appreciate how difficult it is to play — the eye-hand coordination that’s required to play.”
On the league’s roster this season is the Baseball Ontario Bantam AAA Championships, held Labour Day Weekend.
As well, the Toronto Mets program will be hosting a tournament at Howard Talbot Park and Bond Park in North York June 30–July 4.
Birnie said there’s no better way to spend a hot, hazy day than down at the ballpark.
“It’s a game that’s sometimes out of step with the frenetic world we live in,” he said. “Everybody’s in a hurry, but baseball isn’t a game that’s in a hurry.”