The Gordon Head Baseball Association pitched the idea and then hit it out of the park.
The association is among 16 from across the country — and the only one from B.C. — chosen for Blue Jays Care Foundation Field of Dreams grants this year. The 16 baseball-related community organizations will receive a combined $1.4 million from the Blue Jay’s charity arm. The amounts of the grants vary based on needs. Associations across the country watched anxiously as the grant recipients were announced during a break in the broadcast of a Blue Jays-Kansas City Royals game this week.
The Gordon Head association will receive $15,173 from the Blue Jays’ Field of Dreams program. The money will be applied to the planned improvements to Wilf Sadler Field at Lambrick Park, for which $20,000 has already been raised privately through fundraising and sponsors. Particular emphasis will be on improved dugouts and also enhanced wheelchair accessibility for the Challenger program, which provides an opportunity to play baseball for children with cognitive or physical disabilities.
“We thought it was a longshot at first, because the Blue Jays must get a ton of applications from across the country, and our association is not in an underprivileged area,” said Stephen Gaskin, treasurer of the Gordon Head association.
“This has really energized our board.”
The Blue Jays Care Foundation also provided some financial support to get the Challenger program launched last year at Gordon Head, thanks to the initiative of director-at-large and Challenger-program co-ordinator Samantha Postle.
“Samantha found out about, and brought forward to the board, the idea of a larger grant from the Blue Jays Care Foundation to meaningfully renovate Wilf Sadler Field, a field that is shared by our younger divisions and the new Challenger program,” said Gaskin.
“We were also in the fortunate position of having a good amount of money set aside in our budget to contribute to what will end up being a pretty large renovation of this field. For this, we thank our sponsors that have contributed each year to our park, as well as the fundraising activities from our volunteers.”
The planned new dugouts will be able to be locked, said Gaskin, which will help rid the diamond of loitering and substance use that had taken hold when baseball wasn’t being played.
“It will significantly improve the look and feel around the park, as this field had started to become a bit run-down,” he said, pointing forward to the Gordon Head association’s fresher-looking future field of dreams.