“Play Ball” rings out from the Belfast diamond
By Jonathan Charlton
Overgrown and abandoned just weeks ago, the Belfast Rec Centre ball field is now home to a thriving recreational baseball league.
“This field was all done over 15 years ago and stopped being used around 10 years ago. So there’s been no youth, no adults playing ball here for up to 10 years,” Belfast resident Jeff Beck, one of the organizers of the project, said. During an event at the Macphail Woods, Belle River resident Dorothy Oulton remarked to Mr Beck that it would be nice if there were a closer field to play on than Charlottetown.
“So then Jeff says, ‘oh it shouldn’t be too hard to get some people together,” she said.
Mr Beck then got out the word through Facebook and email and got a lot of positive responses.
At a meeting in mid-May there looked to be enough participants for four teams. Then players, along with help from local farmers, helped get the fields back in shape during two work days over the next two weeks.
Mr Beck was impressed by the community spirit.
“For the first work night we had a really good turnout. We had 30 or 40 people volunteer their time to help get this off the ground very quickly.”
Now there are six teams with about 100 players signed up to play 3-Pitch, where the pitcher is a member of the batting team and intentionally serves up easy pitches for them to hit.
“It’s intended for people who have never played before or haven’t played in a really long time. They get to hit and it’s more fun,” Ms Oulton said.
Michelle Stewart had never played ball before joining the league. She moved to Wood Islands from Montague two years ago and comes out for the exercise and to make friends.
“It’s really fun, a lot of laughs,” she said.
Janice Long of Iona, who hadn’t played in 14 years, agreed.
“It’s a lot of fun, except for the bugs. I think it’s great, it gives everybody a sense of community and brings people together.”
At the end of the season, the league plans to make a donation to the Belfast Rec Centre.