Sudbury baseball taking over Blue Jays' turf
Sudbury's 'showcase' baseball field will feature artificial grass, markings of old Skydome surface
A Sudbury baseball field now features a big piece of Canadian baseball history.
The Blue Jays Care Foundation, the charitable arm of the Toronto Blue Jays, along with Jean-Gilles Larocque, the head of Sudbury's Baseball Academy, have outfitted Sudbury's "showcase" baseball field, at the Terry Fox Sports Complex, with turf that was once used in the Rogers Centre.
Ballplayers will now be able to roam the same field as Blue Jay greats Joe Carter, Roberto Alomar and Devon White.
The field will officially open in July, but work has already been started on the field.
It will also help the city's ballplayers compete on a level playing field with baseball programs in southern Ontario, which begin playing in late spring, said Charles Fink, the president of the Sudbury Minor Baseball Association.
"Right now, the city's policy is that we can't get onto a diamond before the May long weekend, which means that it puts us way behind in terms of competing with teams in the south," Fink said.
Soggy dirt fields, which can be a hazard for players, often aren't ready until late spring, he said.
"Having this turf, we hope, will allow us to at least be able to get out here, do some infield practice, maybe a little bit of batting, and get our rep teams up and running and competing for another provincial championship."
Sudbury's Shamrocks club has won three provincial championships recently. Players often travel to cities in the GTA for tournaments, with only a handful of competitive games being played at the Terry Fox Sports Complex. Fink said he hopes having the turf will change that.
"I don't know if there's anything that will be of the quality of this one, now that the turf is down," Fink said.
Fink said he expects SMBA's rep teams will use the field, many of the league's house league teams, as well as Laurentian University's Voyageurs.
But Fink said he's quick to credit the work of Larocque for putting the ball in play.
"I tip my hat to Larocque for leveraging his connections, his love of baseball, and his innate ability to actually pull the trigger on opportunities when they present themselves," Fink said. "So when an opportunity presented itself with the Blue Jays organization, Larocque was able to leverage the Jays Care organization and get the turf."
"So now we're actually playing on Sky Dome turf, here where the champions played."
The field is expected to officially open the first week of July.