London Majors player Keith Kandel works out with the London Tecumsehs
Back row (left to right): Nigel Mason, Will Snider, Keith Kandel (London Majors), Jayden Valle, Brady David, Leland Gooder Middle row: Logan Peddell, Nick Selbie, Colton Knox, Roman Panzeria, Evan Horton, Matthew Aldrich, Zan Hassan. Front row: Logan Merritt, Landyn Jamieson, Eric Picken, Tyler Cabral, Luke Millar, Blake Conners, Jack Millar, Lucas Sears, Nathan Cammaert.
As the old saying goes, “April showers bring May flowers,” but for many in London and the surrounding area it signifies the start of the outdoor baseball season. Warmer temperatures came early this spring, and that is good news for our baseball-starved youth and the city of London, which now must be considered a baseball mecca. Hockey may be the pastime of many Canadian athletes, but make no mistake about it, baseball is catching up faster than a Marcus Stroman fastball.
The London District Baseball Association (LDBA) and their affiliates are growing in popularity as hosts of local tournaments, and our young athletes and our city are the ones who are benefiting. London will be playing host to five tournaments this summer, welcoming teams from across Ontario to take part in friendly but spirited and competitive games that will fill our diamonds on the weekends most summer months. Teams from as far as Sault Ste Marie and Sudbury will gather in London for the various tournaments, as local London teams will do their best to show our dominance and bring home the gold. But win or lose, you can be assured that our London athletes will represent their teams and our city with passion and pride.
The London Badgers will once again be hosting the 5th annual Trevor Barton Memorial the weekends of June 10th and June 17th, respectively. With athletes aged 10U to 18U, the 5th annual tourney will host 136 teams and is one of the largest – if not the largest – baseball tournaments in Ontario. The tournament is played in memory of Trevor Barton, a London youth baseball star who tragically lost his life when he was struck by a train in 2012.
St. Thomas will play host to the 12th annual Cardinal Classic, which will see another 130 teams migrate to London and surrounding area. The Cardinal Classic runs from May 26th to June 4th, over two weekends, and showcases the beautiful Doug Tarry Sports Complex as its headquarters. Teams from Minor Rookie to Minor Midget will showcase their skills as they strive to be crowed champions of this ever-growing, prestigious showcase.
Not to be outdone, the London Tecumsehs, London West Tincaps, and South West London Scorpions will also be playing host to tournaments this summer. From July 14-16, the 2nd annual London Tecumsehs Baseball Tournament will be played with over 45 teams participating, up from 16 last year. From Rookie to Major PeeWee, this event has helped the oldest baseball organization in Canada gain in popularity. The London West Tincaps will once again be hosting the Bob Stark tournament, which will be comprised of teams from Rookie to Major Mosquito. This event sells out quickly every year due to the two- tiered playoff system after round robin play, trophies for all participants, and the use of the family oriented Oakridge Optimist Park. The London South West Scorpions will be hosting 10 competitive tournaments from June 23rd to Aug 13th, and another six Select tournaments from June 14th to August 13th. Mike Mills, President of SW Baseball, has done a tremendous job in growing his registration list over the past few years.
Youth baseball is certainly alive and well in the Forest City, and the positive impact that these tournaments have on the city of London cannot be understated. From hotels to shopping malls to restaurants, the economic spinoff from these events are vast. So, take in a ballgame or two and cheer on your local athletes!
Submitted by Rob Jamieson for LDBA Baseball and photo by Julie Cabral