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PEC Baseball hopes council can pitch in at Field of Dreams

UPDATE: Motion carried at May 22 council meeting.

They built it and the players not only came, they keep returning over the years to maintain and build the Wellington Field of Dreams baseball diamonds into some of the best offered in the region.

Thursday, Matt Ronan, Jane and John Allison of Prince Edward County Minor Baseball Association, asked council for its support to complete a project that will help attract provincial tournaments and regional teams.

“We’re here to ask for support for $6,000,” said Ronan, “to complete a project started with the Wellington Rotary Club in 2015.”

Over the past three years, the organization has worked to replace the old wooden bleachers with aluminum ones at a cost of upwards of $12,000. They also purchased a scoreboard for about $6,000 – a necessary component to attract provincial tournaments and regional team play.

“What we didn’t anticipate was the cost for installation – $6,000,” Ronan said. “It’s a lot of money and we’re tapped out. We just paid $1,000 for the engineering plans to have that installation done. But for now, the scoreboard sits in a warehouse waiting to be installed.”

The league last asked council for support about 12 years when Prince Edward County did not have a regulation baseball diamond. At that time there was one hardball team.

“Members of the community built that baseball diamond and today, we are a very large association with three baseball diamonds and a very good facility – one of the best in eastern Ontario.”

Ronan noted more than 200 kids register to play on the diamonds every day from April to October.

“We started with one team at a midget level and now we have upwards of 18 teams. We have regional teams and we have committed to our pledge of keeping our kids playing in our County.”

That facility, he added is beautifully maintained thanks to John and Jane Allison, and other volunteers.

“They are there every day. As soon as they’re done with their bus runs, they go in and cut the grass. When the contractors tear up the fences, John and Jane and our community organize a work party to repair those fences using the resources we have gained through our league and partnerships and charity orgnizations or raffles.
John and Jane are the face of Prince Edward County Minor Baseball.”

“Today we are asking for $6,000 to help complete a project that we worked on with Rotary of upwards of $20,000.”

Councillor Janice Maynard said it was hard to believe it had been 12 years since the endeavour started.

“Ball is an important part of this county. It’s a heritage sport, a generational sport and I know that a daughter of mine started at the very beginning in hardball when there was no more softball, and is now playing in a league that I play in – with players 19 to 65 playing together. It’s something near and dear to my heart. I applaud what you’ve done with that diamond.”

Ronan said the association just recently organized another work party involving the same group that was there to help build the field initally.

“They’re now 28, 29 years old. They came over with their spouses, and with their children to continue… We all know if we want to get something done, it’s the volunteers of community who get it done. Those 28-year-olds who were 16-18 at that time come in and want to contribute again. It’s something special.”

The association, he said, fundraises on its own for the most part while keeping registration under $100 per child.

“That is first and foremost. Registration ranges from $45 to $95 in order to make it affordable for all kids. Those who can’t pay, still play.”

Council hopes to have a report back by the May 22 council meeting.

Those interested in learning more about the leagues are invited to bring children ages 7-14 to the annual Pitch Hit & Run skills challenge at the diamonds, Friday under the lights from 6-8 p.m. The competition is free of charge and could lead to a chance to compete at a major league ballpark.

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