Ben Smith had no idea the Toronto Blue Jays would make life so much better for him as a budding baseball player in the city.
He was chatting away Thursday with a Western Star reporter about participating in the two-day Toronto Blue Jays Honda Super Camp at Jubilee Field.
He looked a little baffled when asked what it means to him to know the Blue Jays were going to be making a big donation to minor baseball in the city.
“I feel that these people are the nicest people ever,” Smith said.
Then, after a slight pause, as if he wasn’t sure of what he had just heard.
“Is that true?” he asked.
Yes sir, it is.
The Toronto Blue Jays, through a Field of Dreams grant from the Jays Care Foundation, announced Thursday that the organization is donating $71,000 to the Corner Brook Baseball Association to be used for the refurbishing on Little Jubilee Field — a mainstay for the minor baseball program that has 187 boys and girls registered this summer.
Local baseball officials plan on spending the money to upgrade the small diamond with a new field surface just like the one on the main field, installation of lights, fencing, more bleachers for spectators, a new electronic scoreboard and an upgraded training area.
Being able to play on a much better and safer field is something Smith feels all players will get to enjoy.
“A lot of people have been saying they don’t like sliding on that stuff .... I am just so happy to get a better field,” Smith said.
Representatives of the Blue Jays, city officials including Deputy mayor Bernd Staeben, members of the baseball executive were joined by members of the Jays Care Foundation were on hand for the momentous occasion.
Of course, the biggest attractions for both players and parents alike were the four distinguished guests — Blue Jays Baseball Academy instructors Roberto Alomar, Sandy Alomar Sr., Duane Ward and Lloyd Moseby.
All four were busy providing instruction, encouragement and a fun learning environment as the players were put through their drills at the various stations set up on the field.
They had no problem handling the endless request for pictures and autographs.
It was clear to those who spent the day at the diamond these guys care about what they do.
Alomar had everybody’s attention when he addressed more than 90 players and 100 parents and fans who decided to get a glimpse of some of the famous athletes they idolized back in the 1990s.
The soft-spoken native of Puerto Rico, who now splits his time between living in Toronto and Tampa, is heavily involved in the dozens of camps the organization runs coast to coast every year in an effort to grow the game.
“I’m glad they let me be the face of the program and to be able to help the kids and grow the game of baseball in Canada,” said Alomar, a 12-time Gold Glove winner.
“This is part of what I want to do now. I think it’s great to give back to the community.”