Sudbury·Audio

Baseball players in Sudbury have to wait a long time to bat

In Sudbury, the success of the Blue Jays is shining a new light on local diamonds — and revealing a need for improvements.

Is the success of the Blue Jays inspiring more people in Sudbury to play baseball?

Baseball fans in Sudbury will be glued to their screens this afternoon, when the Blue Jays play the final game in their series against the Texas Rangers. But sport organizers say the team's success is already inspiring a new generation of ball fans — so much so that there is competition for field time, and wait lists to get on local teams. (John Rieti/CBC)
Is the success of the Blue Jays inspiring more people in Sudbury to play baseball? We spoke about the Sudbury baseball scene with Jean-Gilles Larocque, the owner of the Sudbury Baseball Academy.

In Sudbury, the success of the Blue Jays is shining a new light on local diamonds — and revealing a need for improvements.

Sudbury's Nathan Paquette counts himself as one of the millions of Toronto Blue Jays fans. Following the team's historic playoff run is giving him inspiration for his game, as a serious baseball player at his school.

"There's a lot of hockey players and not many baseball players, so you definitely stand out," the 15-year-old told CBC News.

Paquette is training at the Sudbury Baseball Academy in the hope of landing an American scholarship.

"I go into a whole different mindset, like nothing from the outside world matters. It's just that game."

Academy owner Jean-Gilles Larocque produces players for the U.S. every year, but he said it would be easier if Sudbury had more teams and fields.

"Sudbury's one of the most obese cities in the country and we have kids on waiting lists to play sports," he said.

"To me that doesn't make any sense whatsoever."

Larocque said he's seen waiting lists of up to 15 players in the minor league.

The city's fields aren't open late enough to accommodate both adult and youth baseball, he added.

The president of the Sudbury Minor Baseball Association agrees.

With most games held at the Terry Fox Sports Complex, there isn't enough field time to meet demand, Mike Lumley said.

"What we did last year is we did our best not to turn anybody away, but it did kind of limit the amount of games we were able to offer people or to offer the players," he said.

"We would like to see some expanded time [at the Terry Fox Complex] or we may have to possibly look at other venues."

The city doesn't have any plans to increase hours on baseball fields. But there are discussions underway to redesign the ball field in Blezard Valley.

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