COLUMN: A time to play ball
Hockey was never my thing. My duty as a Canadian kid required me to play it from time to time, sure, but I didn’t seek the game out. When I did play, I favoured the games happening on the street in front of my place. Only the odd time did I take my skills to the ice.
I played a less icy game — baseball.
I started when I was about six years old, moved on to house league, then made the jump to AA and, eventually, AAA ball. My team travelled extensively, won our share of tournaments and trained heavily in the offseason. It was a year-round commitment for the whole family.
When I was 18, I quit baseball. The bigs weren’t calling — nor were the prized American schools with full-ride scholarships, unfortunately — so I got a part-time job and was on my way.
Until last week, it had been years since I thought about my ball career. All the expected things — school, rent, groceries, the list is a long one — that get in the way of reflecting on one’s childhood, had done so.
But then I was invited to Scotiabank Field at Nat Bailey Stadium for The Right to Play Ball event.
Hosted by the Vancouver Canadians Baseball Foundation, in partnership with Boys and Girls Clubs of South Coast BC, The Right to Play Ball is an initiative that brings hundreds of kids from the Lower Mainland to Nat Bailey Stadium for a few afternoons in July and August. At the diamond, the kids get to play a game, hang out with local sports personalities, get some new equipment and have a bite to eat.
All of the athletes invited come from low-income backgrounds. Were it not for The Right to Play Ball program, it isn’t a stretch to think many — maybe all — of the kids wouldn’t enjoy such an opportunity.
That’s a tough thing to think about, especially amidst all the excitement on the field. But that’s the best part of the program. These kids are asked to think about one thing: baseball. The Right to Play Ball lets kids be kids.
They’ll have plenty of time to reminisce later.
For more, check out canadiansbaseball.com.