The Don Green Memorial slo-pitch tournament has given back to the recreation services in Wellesley for more than three decades.
This weekend, the 35th annual outing will see players take the ball diamonds behind the Wellesley Community Centre. The line-up card is full, with 16 teams in four divisions ready to play some baseball, helped along by volunteers and many local residents.
“It’s open to the community,” said organizer Blair Cressman of the Wellesley & District Lions Club. “The barbecue will be humming all weekend – come out and grab some food with the family and watch some baseball, and catch up with some neighbours.”
Hot dogs, hamburgers, french fries, popcorn, cold beverages in the beer gardens, a home run contest, and a 50/50 raffle are all on offer throughout the weekend. The event raised some $7-8,000 last year and is expected to keep up the momentum once again in 2019.
There is prize money up for grabs for winners of the tournament, added Cressman, but it is not the central focus of the event, as the teams typically donate the winnings to the Lions Club. Then, the money goes right back into the village, with the splash pad and accessible playground being two community projects funded by the local Lions Club through these types of events.
“There will be different degrees of skill in the tournament, but in general, it’s more about having fun. Most of the teams know the other teams because they’ve played in the tournament for so long,” said Cressman.
“Even if you win or lose, you’re usually going up to the beer gardens after and sharing a pint with your friends and neighbours as part of the social aspect of the tournament.”
The event is named after the late Don Green, a Wellesley Township resident who was well-known across the agricultural industry in southern Ontario. Green’s family ran the tournament in his honour after Don’s passing in the ’80s. After running the event became a bit too onerous on them, the Wellesley & District Lions Club took the torch and carried it for the past decade.
“The youth sports was close and dear to Don Green,” said Cressman. “He was involved in the community and was very well-known for his involvement in baseball, hockey and youth activities right in Wellesley village. So that was the core function of the Don Green Memorial Fund, organized to be able to spread funds to as many youth activities and youth sports in the community as possible.
“It is nice that it’s tied to something recreational like a slo-pitch tournament.”
Given the success of the event, organizers need not change much; while it has undergone minor tweaks and changes, the Don Green Memorial Tournament has stayed relatively the same since its inception.
Cressman added that the diamond lights would be fully functional after the Wellesley council voted to replace all three ball diamond lights in the township back in April.
“We were a little bit on pins and needles until about two weeks ago was whether the light standards would be up on the lower diamond,” said Cressman. “The township pushed forward and was able to get those operational in the last two weeks. The new LED lights are very well-positioned, and they do light up the field quite well, so hats off to the township.”
The Don Green Memorial Tournament takes place August 9-10 at the Wellesley Community Centre beginning at 5 p.m. and rolls late into the evening both nights.