THUNDER BAY, ON ---- July 31, 2010 ---- Baseball has taken over the city in recent weeks. While there are several events going on this article is about the provincial Little League Championships, hosted by the Current River Little League at Thunder Bay’s Waddington Park.
By design or perhaps by accident, our city has some of the best baseball facilities. Waddington Park has five diamonds alone, and the new washroom facilities will be ready about a week after the tournament is done. What makes this all work is the community spirit of the city’s various neighbourhoods and the volunteers, who come out and officiate, man the concessions and do the organizing. Jim Hunt coach of the Kingston Colts was impressed with the quality of the organization that went behind the provincial tournament. In a hard fought game against the Fort William Nationals, his team ended up finishing on the losing side of a 6-5 score, and after a few calls home, he was planning on spending the evening making travel arrangements back to Kingston.
The Little League is for boys between the ages of 10 and 12. It can be a challenge to develop a team; some of the boys have experienced their growth spurt earlier than others, some look more like 17 or 18 while others appear much younger. It is an age where boys feel some growing pains, and playing baseball is a great activity to keep them active, healthy, and expose them to good sportsmanship. Indeed the social skills that the boys learn will last a lifetime. In speaking with his supporters back in Kingston, Jim Hunt said “ I am very proud of my boys. I have taken a bunch of hockey players, and turned them into a baseball team” While his baseball games have come to an end for this season in Thunder Bay, Jim Hunt plans to return for a summer vacation. “It is beautiful up here”, he said.
Norm Kivanen is one of the people Jim Hunt could not say enough about. He is a Co-chair of the organizing committee that brought the tournament to our city. In total about 59 players came from out of town, along with parents, chaperons, coaches and support staff. Some teams even had very vocal cheering section.
A familiar face on Thunder Bay ball diamonds is Ken Story. The seasoned baseball umpire kept the games under control. This is important because it prevent emotions from taking over the game. Throughout good sportsmanship prevailed during tournament. Weather permitting the tournament should wind up on Saturday, and there is still a local team in the running.
Baseball in Thunder Bay is all about fun, being a good parent, watching your kids grow and develop into fine young men, being a volunteer, and developing sense of community. In the end that is the only game worth playing.
Bert Rowson for