It’s not whether you win or lose, it’s where you play the game.
Voting for Canada’s favourite baseball park began this month and Trail’s Butler Park is currently on the ballot and doing well as far as initial numbers go.
But the venerable stadium is up against much larger centres and, with Trail’s limited population, let us hope the well of voters does not run dry before voting ends next Monday.
As of Tuesday afternoon, Butler lead with 45 per cent of the vote while Trois Riviere had closed the gap significantly, standing three points back with 42.
But this is always the case with Trail. Whether it’s the Orioles facing Seattle Studs, the Diamondbacks against Spokane or the Jays verse Kamloops – numbers have never been on Trail’s side, yet our teams still manage to succeed.
Butler is fittingly a ballpark that hosts only baseball games; no rodeos, football or soccer matches to soil the lush expanse of green.
It has great sight lines with no bad seats, good food, a nice grandstand shaded from the afternoon heat but with sunny areas on the sideline bleachers.
It has a brand new sports clock, a monster left-field fence, well-groomed grass with an unpredictable infield that yields an entertaining Butler bounce at key moments.
The action is so close, you can’t help but hear the banter of ballplayers, and the arguing of overheated umpires and dyspeptic managers. (This is good, really.)
Numerous volunteers such as concession workers, announcers, scorekeepers, umpires and coaches donate countless hours; businesses and organizations supply funds to support the teams and the park.
In addition, the century old park has to be the oldest and most distinguished among the final 16 in the running. And yet it doesn’t look it. Well maintained and looked after, it seems as modern as they come.
But still, these are only cosmetics; what makes the soul of a ballpark is its history and the players and organizers that loft the park to another level.
Baseball, after all, is ‘a ballet without music, a drama without words,’ and Butler is our Carnegie Hall.
I got a brief glimpse of that through the video created by organizer Eddie Ferraro and Jamie Forbes from the Trail Historical Society. A slide show that aptly represents the history of Trail baseball and Butler. It’s like taking a quick stroll through time.
Those who were honoured Thursday night: Bill Trewhella, Robert Cacchioni, Eddie Ferraro, Nona Kucher, Lou Derosa and Brad Elliot, contribute so much to Trail and its baseball community. They and people like them are the reason Butler should be Canada’s favourite ballpark.
They share a passion for the game, for the players and fans and of course they love the park. For some of them, it has been the only baseball home they’ve known.
Despite the time and commitment, they continue to shape its history and are eager to impart their knowledge to the young players, parents, and even the odd intrusive reporter.
Butler Park is vital to the community; not only for the games won and lost, good plays and bad, or the banners in the stands, but for the people who have walked through its gates.
Whether it’s a packed grandstand from a photo in the early 1900’s or a decent crowd at the Jays game against Coeur d’Alene last weekend, though they’re 100 years apart they are connected by baseball and Butler.
As the great manager Casey Stengel once said, “The trick is growing up, without growing old.”
When you’ve played in Butler from a very young age, it becomes an intrinsic part of youth, an attachment to a time and place, to people and unforgettable memories.
Maybe places like Butler Park do that for us, they keep us young or at least seem to – just ask Mr.’s Derosa and Ferraro.
Like the game of baseball, Butler Park transcends our mortality with stories that are timeless, of great players and not so great ones, teams that won and teams that lost.
Butler Park has become, itself, a character that over the last century has played a very integral part in making Trail what it is today – the Home of Champions.
Go online and vote Butler Park at www.baseball.ca.