With COVID-19 protocols relaxing as the number of vaccinated British Columbians mounts, baseball is back in the province and on Bowen Island. The historic fastpitch league is up and running while the upstart slopitch league follows this weekend.
The Fastpitch League began a reduced 2021 schedule on Wednesday, June 9 (the Fireman beat the Brewers) while the Slopitch League’s website says the league will begin its season with a triple header this Saturday, June 19.
It’s been a long haul and after 34 consecutive seasons at Snug Cove Field, missing one in 2020 was difficult for fastpitch players and fans. And COVID remains a presence for this season, as noted in a posting by league president, Adam Woodward, on the league’s Facebook site.
“All players are required to maintain a distance of six feet when not playing or in active game play,” Woodward wrote. “What this means is that we will keep a limit of only three members in the dugouts at a time. We will utilize the adjacent benches for the rest of each team, while also staying at a distance.
“Unfortunately, this means that we will also not do handshakes at the end of each game,” he went on to post. “Masks are also being encouraged on the base paths or in the field of play, but not required at this time.”
There are various sanitizing protocols in place and each player is encouraged to bring their own batting helmet. Woodward said they adapted the guidelines they have put in place “from a variety of other leagues, including Baseball BC and Slo-pitch Canada.”
The Diggers won the last tournament played – they’ve won the coveted Scott Helenius Trophy four of the last five seasons – taking the final 4-3 over Eddie Weismiller and The Cruisers on August 11 of 2019.
Those two teams re-met in the early goings this season, on June 11, with Mike Laszuk hitting a walk-off grand slam off of young Cruiser pitcher Sneaky Pete Blomberg to give the Diggers another narrow victory, 12-11.
That game featured the Cruisers rivalling a feat the Twins have recently managed: three brothers playing in one game. Jack and Charlie Welsh have been joined on the team by little brother, Benny Boy Welsh. Peter Blomberg’s cousins, brothers Jonas, Niko and Mattias Blomberg, have all played for the Twins in past seasons.
The leagues feature kids running about collecting fouls balls for cash. Young William Strang has joined that group of baseball-loving islanders this season. Many players now in the fastpitch league started their Snug Cove careers doing the same thing.
Before the pause, the Slopitch league hit its stride with its most successful season of four in 2019. Among other highlights that season, Scott Stevenson and Sarah Bristow were named the league’s Most Outstanding utility players while Stevenson won a second crown, winning the Most Fun Couple award with wife, Sheana Stevenson.
Clive Scarff won the Senior Player award.
The Slopitch season starts with the Loggers up against the Basecombers on Saturday at 10 a.m. and finishes on September 7. Both leagues have schedules posted online.