A very special guest will ring in the New Year at the Smoke Eaters home game on Jan. 4.
None other than former Major League baseball star, Jason Bay, will be at the game signing baseball cards for youngsters at the start of the Smokies game versus the Merritt Centennials.
“That is exciting,” said Trail’s Lou DeRosa. “I think there’ll be a line up to sign the cards and it will be nice to have Jason here.”
DeRosa, a retired teacher and baseball coach, helped spearhead the initiative to add Jason Bay’s name to Butler Park, in recognition of Bay’s incredible baseball career. Trail City Council okayed the proposal in November, and set up a committee to keep the proverbial ball rolling.
“He was absolutely flattered to have his name added to Butler Park,” said DeRosa. “He’s very appreciative and very humble.”
Bay, who is coming to Trail to visit his parents, David and Kelly, over the holidays, will sign about 500 cards at the Trail Memorial Centre prior to the Smokies game, based on a first-come, first-serve basis.
“Jason’s had a very, very successful career in the Major Leagues,” explained DeRosa. “There’s not many Canadians who play in the Majors, and he played in it for 11 seasons, was a three-time all star, so he had a fabulous career.”
DeRosa and well-known organizer Keith Smyth are part of the committee that includes city representatives Andrea Jolly and Sarah Benson-Lord, as well as community input from Glenn Wallace, Doug Jones, Doug Stanley, and Dan and D. J. Ashman.
Hall’s Printing is also a major contributor to the project, covering the cost of the Bay baseball cards, while D.J. is a very close friend of Jason’s and the Bay family.
Smyth taught both Jason and Lauren Bay at Glenmerry Elementary and has plenty of experience as a volunteer-organizer. He was involved with the 1987 Trail All Stars that hosted the Canadian Little League championship, was a key organizer of the 1995 Babe Ruth 16-18 World Series in Trail, in addition to a couple of BC Winter, Summer, and Senior Games.
“What is kinda neat, when you think about it,” said Smyth. “You got Andy Bilesky Park, Joe Haley Park, Willi Kraus Fieldhouse, and now Jason Bay Field so it is very cool that some of our prominent athletes continue to be recognized.”
The committee, in partnership with the City, is also hoping to raise funds for the new signage, which Smyth estimates will cost approximately $50,000. The City also recognizes the importance of preserving the current legacy of Butler as well as Wright Pool that make up the Greater Trail Aquatic and Leisure Centre.
Bay currently lives in Seattle with his wife Kristen and three children Addison, Evelyn, and Garrett. He was drafted by the Monteal Expos in 2000, and played for the San Diego Padres, Pittsburgh Pirates, Boston Red Sox, New York Mets and Seattle Mariners. He was the National League Rookie of the Year in 2004 and won the Silver Slugger Award in 2009. In June, Bay was inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame.
“I think the younger children will be inspired by Jason Bay Field, because he was a Major League Baseball player, and hopefully we’ll get another one come out of the area here,” added DeRosa.
Bay will be at the Trail Memorial Centre at 6 p.m. and will sign cards until the start of the Smokies game at 7 p.m.