July2008

Monkton 2008 - Tourny Wrap-up - (finally!)...

July 15, 2008

Monkton, ON


Monkton, ON
 
 
World Fastball Invitational – 2008 Tourny Wrap-Up
 
 
 
Some things are better left un-said….
 
A few days prior to this years 5th annual event my stomach churned, my mind raced, my worst nightmares were about to come true. I had promised to update all those readers of my postings of the weather forecast for the Monkton area as I have done each and every year at that time. But this time things were different. Never had I seen such a weather forecast prior to my tourny. Common sense told me not to tell anyone of the wrath Mother Nature was about to bestow on us. Hell, if I had, no-one would have showed up! Or so I thought.
 
I immediately contacted my right hand man – Kevin Quipp (Pres.) and all team owners/managers/coaches etc of the impending dilemma. Numerous discussions all ended the same – the weather ‘is what it is”. We could only “hope and pray” the forecast would change. With a solid back-up and emergency plan in place we had done all we could. In the back of my mind I thought, there was no way that THIS tourny would get washed out. We can’t let it happen.
 
And now, as I sit and compose this, I feel like the most grateful, thankful, blessed man on the planet. Not because we managed to get the entire tournament completed, but by HOW we did it.
 On none less than 5 occasions the diamond was flooded with torrential douwnpours. Pounding rains, driving winds, lighting and thunder filled the skies every few hours. Delay after delay had both fans and players alike asking “are you gonna call it off Brian?” My answer was a very simple – “hell no, were gonna play ball”.
 
 
 
Many hands make quick work…
 
In Toronto, the grounds-crew for the Jays are the undisputed “World’s Fastest Grounds-Crew”, as self promoted each and every game at the Rogers Centre (Skydome) – they have obviously not heard of the “Crew” we have in Monkton. An example – and a sign of things to come, was on opening night in our second game featuring Circle Tap and Jarvis. In the 3rd inning the skies opened up and hammered down an inch and a half of rain in less than 20 minutes. Yet, within an hour the teams were back on the diamond, the plate umpiring yelling “play ball!” From that moment I knew we would get this tourny in.
This same scenario – unfortunately, would play itself out numerous times before the final pitch. But our groundscrew – led by Mr. Tony Smith (yes, I do say Mr., although I motion to have him Knighted and called Sir) worked miracles. Muddied, soaked from head-to-toe, exhausted, weary and weakened from long arduous days and nights working the diamond back into shape, these men and women gave all they had - not for one second  waveromg on their duties or task at hand. Springing into action with the tools of their trade – tarps, squeegies, brooms, rakes, shovels, pumps, hoses, and absorbents, they were the biggest of heroes on this weekend.

 I would be remiss if I didn’t also tell of the numerous “townsfolk” – parents,  family of the Executive Committee, neighbours, or even on-lookers who came forward asking me “what can I do to help”, “is there anything you need”, “you name it we’ll get it” .
I shouldn’t be surprised at the outpouring of support and assistance when we needed it. This is after all, small-town Ontario. Better yet, it’s Monkton. Not once does one need to ask for help here. It finds you.
 
Huge amounts of praise also need to go to the players, fans, umpiring crew, and the hundreds of volunteers who braved the elements and stood by us in our darkest hours. To our friends in nearby Mitchell – especially Rick Vivian who in a moments notice dropped everything to prepare diamonds there for us to use. We needed all of you to help us through and we are very very grateful..
 
The weekend wasn’t without some very bright and happy moments. None brighter than seeing our 2008 Champions – Saskatoon Aspen Interiors battling thru the bracket and upsetting the best teams in the World in claiming the title. They also swept the awards table – with Trevor Ethier garnering Top Pitcher honors, and Dale Levy grabbing Top Batter AND Tournament MVP. I noticed Dale had a bit of a swagger leaving the park Sunday – well done Red! Congrats to the Kuryluk’s, the Aspen players, and fans. Well done. I look forward to having you defend your title next year.
 
Speaking of next year, YES, YES, and YES – there will be a tourny here in Monkton in 2009 – and beyond. Hope that puts all those rumours to rest once and for all.
 
This years event was without question one of the most difficult 5 days of my life. Year-round planning certainly showed as we were pushed to the limit and tested on more than a few occasions. We are a resilient, strong, devoted, and driven Executive Committee, but we are nothing without all those other links in the chain. Without going into naming names, anyone reading this knows who I mean.
 
This scribe must personally thank many people - a most daunting task when adding up the numbers and names involved, my family and loved ones among them.
 This tourny is a labour of love. My very own “if you build it they will come” And come you have!
 
Heartfelt thanks to you all.
 
See you at a park (somewhere in North America) soon!
 
Brian Baillie – Chairman
World Fastball Invitational
 
 
 
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