The Trail AAA Jays baseball team may have gone down swinging, but it’s alumni’s most recent gesture off the field may prove its biggest and most meaningful hit yet.
Although the Trail AAA Jays American Legion Baseball program’s 2012 hiatus is looking permanent, the AAA Jays alumni continue to make a positive impact on the Greater Trail community and local ballplayers.
With the Greater Trail American Legion baseball teams transitioning to the Trail A and AA Orioles, the Jays alumni advisor, Eddie Ferraro, came up with a solution to help current and future Trail athletes.
“When the Jays AAA program was replaced with the current Oriole AA team we were left with a stockpile of great equipment with no team to use it,” said Ferraro. “I started contacting our old directors, coaches, and some players and came up with a plan that could benefit the most kids.”
The Jays had a variety of equipment available from new bats and baseballs, to catcher’s equipment, helmets, and bases that had remained idle in Ferraro’s basement since 2012.
“It was a lot of good, quality equipment,” said Ferraro. “If our team was running we would have just opened up the locker, taken it out and gone to work.”
Ferraro contacted the Trail Youth Baseball and XBL League and after figuring out the value of the equipment through the supplier, he offered the Youth Baseball League the package at a considerably reduced price.
“And I told them, ‘what I’d like to do is take the cheque that you’re going to give me and then we’re going to present it to KidSport on behalf of the Trail Jays alumni,’” said Ferraro.
The League jumped at the offer, not only because the equipment was a welcome addition at a bargain price, but more because of where the money was going.
“The beauty of the plan is that it reduced costs to the leagues, and proceeds of the sale would be donated to KidSport – a win-win situation.”
The AAA Jays ran from 2006-2012 and during that time saw 60 players go through the program. Incredibly, 15 of those went on to become student athletes, playing baseball in Canadian and U.S. universities.
But what was even more rewarding for the Jays’ coaches and executive was the development of young men into not just good ballplayers, but good citizens.
“The philosophy of our program was always two-fold,” said Ferraro. “Teach them the game of baseball so they could compete at the highest level. And secondly, to prepare them for their adult life and teach them to be respectful and work hard at whatever task they are doing, and good things will come to them as a result.”
Many went on to become teachers, journeymen, business owners, fire fighters, lawyers, and even professional hockey players and golfers.
“I am really proud of the kids that came through our program.”
And while Ferraro is disappointed that AAA Trail Jays are grounded, he is happy with the way the team went out.
“In a way I am (sad), but when I came up with this idea I felt better. It was a nice way to finish the Jays program off. We have sort of come full circle, we had lots of people help us when we started.
“The Trail Jays Alumni are very pleased that they can say thank you to all the financial support they got while we operated, and are thrilled to give back. And hopefully, it will give another young boy or girl an opportunity to prepare for life through sports.”
As for the Trail chapter of KidSport, the Jays’ fine example and welcome donation of almost $600 will go a long way towards helping kids participate in organized sport.
“That’s the very essence of the concepts behind KidSport,” said KidSport coordinator Betty Ann Marino. “Is that we want to support children’s development through sport.
“If our little bits of money that pay for registrations can enable that – that is a complete win . . . The Trail Jays are an example of many examples in our area where that sport philosophy is held . . . whether it’s figure skating, hockey, swimming, or baseball – it strengthens the fabric of our community.”