Windsor

Windsor baseball league cancels more games this year than in past decade amid constant rain

Never before in the past 10 years has the Forest Glade Baseball League been forced to cancel more games than it has this year.

'At this point, we're not sure how we can handle it,' says league's VP

Forest Glade Optimist Park has five baseball diamonds, including Tom Wilson Field. The outfield there is too wet, limiting many players to the in-field. (Sanjay Maru/CBC)

Never before in the past 10 years has the Forest Glade Baseball League been forced to cancel more games than it has this year.

To put that in perspective, a season typically lasts three months — but this year's season started less than a month ago.

"We ran May 6th. We were closed all the way until through until May 13th ... We had a couple of days of decent weather and then we had some more cancellations obviously because it's just been on-and-off sporadic rain for the last three weeks," said league vice president Chris Apthorp.

The month of May saw 100 mm of rain, which is higher than an average of 89 mm, according to Environment Canada.

The gloomy weather has left parks and fields in the city in less-than-desirable conditions for regular use and routine maintenance.

The league is based out of Forest Glade Optimist Park, which hosts five baseball diamonds of different sizes. On a typical night, all five diamonds will be occupied by teams which are made up of 12 or 13 players.

Chris Apthorp is the vice president of the Forest Glade Baseball League. (Sanjay Maru/CBC)

"It ultimately affects about 175 kids a night when those games are cancelled," said Apthorp.

But whenever games aren't cancelled, things still don't run smoothly. According to Apthorp, younger players can be reassigned to other diamonds because the outfield "isn't usable at all."

"We have tournaments coming up that are going to be possibly affected by wet diamonds and uncut grass and everything else, so it's something that we're trying to work around," he said, adding it would be tough to extend the season into August because of parents going on vacations.

"At this point, we're not sure how we can handle it. We're trying to fit the games in as best we can in the schedule. But like I said, with the number of cancellations, it's proven to be challenging."

Though the sun was shining Sunday, standing water could still be seen across Forest Glade Optimist Park. (Sanjay Maru/CBC)

There are close to 150 sports fields operated and maintained by the City of Windsor, according to community sports services coordinator Trese MacNeil.

This year, the city's baseball diamonds were scheduled to open May 4 — with rectangular fields opening the following week.

"Up to yesterday, that would've been about 25 days of sports fields. We've been closed for 19 days," MacNeil told CBC News on Thursday.

Of that, 11 of those days saw partial closures, meaning "maybe just the fields in the east-end ... or west-end were closed," MacNeil said, adding the other eight days saw complete closures of all city parks and fields.

Tough to maintain amid constant rain

The constant rain is also making it harder for maintenance crews to perform their work. According to MacNeil, heavy equipment could cause "irreversible" damage to wet fields and parks, making them unsafe for public use all season long.

"You're probably not able to mow your backyard because the grounds are so wet, so they're enduring the same types of issues."

Trese MacNeil is the coordinator of community sports services for the City of Windsor. (Sanjay Maru/CBC)

But when the sun finally comes out for a day or two, that's not enough for maintenance crews to get back to working on the city's parks and fields, according to MacNeil.

"We need several hours and days of sun and dryness to dry up those fields so we can get the maintenance crews on," she said.

"Safety is paramount, so we don't want to allow groups to go on these fields and use them if they're going to be deemed unsafe. That's first and foremost."

Environment Canada forecasts that Windsor may see relief from the rain in the second week of June.

About the Author

Sanjay Maru is a reporter at CBC Windsor. Email him at sanjay.maru@cbc.ca.

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