Grand Bend’s kids need $85,000 to Play Ball!

By Casey Lessard

Grand Bend’s baseball diamond is out of date and dangerous, and it’s going to take $85,000 to get it to standards. For now, the municipality of Lambton Shores hasn’t stepped up to the plate with much help, so the Grand Bend Baseball Project committee is putting the call out to the community.
“The fencing isn’t safe in some spots,” says committee president Larry Whiting. “The gates are dangerous, really. The surface is a fine dust that is probably not the proper dust to put on there. The rain has washed all the little particles down so people are skinning their legs when they slide. A lot of the diamonds now are being changed to red clay, so we’re searching for that. The outfields have a lot of potholes. It’s time to have the place fixed up.”
The money will be used to fix the infield and outfield to standards, fix fences and gates, buy a new scoreboard, updated lighting, install a playground and build a locker building for equipment. The goal is to meet quality standards set by diamonds in Parkhill and Strathroy so teams can compete appropriately in leagues.
A few years ago, “the diamond itself wasn’t being used at all,” says peewee coach Dave Grainger. “The town was going to dismantle it and have it put down in Greenway with the soccer fields. My son and his friends showed interest and they were upset that the diamond was going to be taken away. Once the kids found that out, they wanted to keep it.
“We started three years ago as a Saturday morning program to get the kids involved and give them some basics. Now we have enough kids to get them into a league at the Peewee level. Last year we had 55 kids out.”
Sabrina Morrison, 11, is one of the players with some promise. The energetic Grade 6 Grand Bend Public School student is eager to play and spend time with friends.
“Everybody’s working hard and trying their best,” Sabrina says. “I think it’s important for kids to enjoy the outdoors and be active and meet new people.”
Mom Barbara Hunt thinks baseball is a great fit for Sabrina’s personality.
“She likes to run and jump around and dive. She’s one of those sorts of kids. It helps her work on her social skills, and working together as part of a team.
“We just signed up last summer when they started it because Sabrina came to live with us last summer, and she hadn’t been involved in sports before,” Hunt adds. “For her, it was something new and challenging and good to get to know the kids in the community.”
And the skills learned on the field extend beyond the physical.
“These kids are learning responsibility and teamwork and accountability,” Grainger says. “Plus it’s great exercise for the kids. The kids will go as far as their potential talent takes them. As long as there’s a base for them, they’re going to go on and improve.”
Getting the base (or bases) is Larry Whiting’s job. And it’s a project he’s committed to seeing completed.
“We want to have it so when people come to Grand Bend, they say, Wow, they have a nice diamond there.”

To donate, call Larry Whiting at (519) 639-6755 or Vince Bury at (519) 243-4015.