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County boys (and girls) of summer raring to go

photo by Phil Norton. www.countyphotographer.com

By Phil Norton
Winning isn’t everything, says Matt Ronan, but last year all five age divisions of County Baseball swept the championships in the Quinte Baseball League (www.quintebaseballleague.com). He’s talking about a sports community that he and others have devoted themselves to promoting for the past 16 years.

In addition to the obvious skill-building success, County Baseball has preserved an old Ontario tradition of bats and gloves, rawhide and seams, infield dust and coaching strategy, all for summer fun “at the old ballgame.” And even baseball hotdogs are often on the grill at the Wellington diamond thanks to Jane Allison, another local league promoter and coach.

photo by Phil Norton. www.countyphotographer.com

Her husband John Allison calls her the “driver behind it”. As league president he looks back to their first season in 1995 when they started County Baseball with just one division, Mosquito. Sixty-four young players, including the Allisons’ two boys, showed up for practice. At that point, County Baseball was born.  The league now has multiple teams in five different skill divisions and provides organized sports for boys and girls age 6-19 years of age.

When looking at league growth, John speaks highly of Matt Ronan and refers to him as the heir apparent who will take over his job. The two met at the Ameliasburgh Fair where John had set up a radar gun to measure throwing speeds. He called out to the tall County newcomer to give it a try and Matt dazzled the onlookers with 85 mph fastballs.

That partnership led to great things for County Baseball, including the funding and construction of the Field of Dreams County Baseball Complex adjacent to the new Wellington arena. It’s quite a sight to drive by and see a game going on under the lights with the bleachers full and the colourful jerseys out on the field.

Matt and Jennifer Ronan have two boys involved in baseball and it’s a family affair to help run the league. Jen has been responsible for organizing the annual Pitch, Hit and Run competition (www.countybaseball.net) where boys and girls test their throwing, batting and base-running skills and get some spring training before the official season begins.

Sign-up starts this Saturday, Feb. 26 at the Wellington Arena from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. The next registration is on March 5 at the Prince Edward Community Centre from 9 – 2, and on March 26 and April 9 at the Picton Town Hall (above fire hall). Costs: $50 Rookie League, $75 Mosquito-Pee Wee, $90 Bantam-Midget.

For more information: Matt Ronan 476-8550.

Filed Under: Local NewsSports & Recreation

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