LOVE OF THE GAME

Char­lot­te­town Jays giv­ing vet­er­ans an op­por­tu­nity to keep play­ing favourite sport

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - FRONT PAGE - BY JA­SON MAL­LOY

The ban­ter­ing started when the first play­ers ar­rived at the field and con­tin­ued un­til they pulled out of the park­ing lot.

How­ever, the ca­ma­raderie was on full dis­play as the Char­lot­te­town Jays played the Morell Che­vies Wed­nes­day dur­ing Kings County Base­ball League (KCBL) ac­tion at Memo­rial Field.

The Jays trans­formed their squad into an old-timers team this year with guys rang­ing from their mid-30s to their early 50s.

“Get­ting some of th­ese guys back out and play­ing again has re­ally sort of rekin­dled that love of the game, the ca­ma­raderie of be­ing on a team and the com­pet­i­tive­ness of play­ing the sport that we all love,” said play­er­coach Greg Sta­ple­ton. “It’s been fun this year.”

The laughs started early. As Thane Arse­nault hit a first-in­ning pitch into left field and turned for sec­ond he said, “Taxi.” It put run­ners on sec­ond and third with no out. Mike Roberts fol­lowed with a dou­ble of his own to score one run. He looked 90 feet away and saw Arse­nault at third and joked, “You didn’t score?”

Craig Cooper grounds out to sec­ond to cash Arse­nault and Roberts gives Arse­nault the gears again.

“Give the RBI to Coop,” he said.

Cooper said it’s a lot of fun be­ing back on the field.

“There’s a lot of guys out here who have been out of the game

for a few years and still have the love of the game and are ex­cited to be back,” the catcher and team leader said. “We all share a com­mon in­ter­est – stay­ing in­volved in the game.”

The Jays play ev­ery Wed­nes­day at Memo­rial Field. They bat all their play­ers and sub­sti­tute in the field freely.

The team hasn’t won this year in four games, but Cooper said

the play­ers are hit­ting the ball bet­ter, get­ting con­sis­tent pitch­ing and, most im­por­tantly, hav­ing fun.

“It all starts with Terry Mac­Don­ald, our buddy, Bubba,” Cooper said. “We can’t fig­ure out how old he is, but his per­son­al­ity starts the whole thing and it goes from there.”

Cooper is part of a group try­ing to bring the Cana­dian

old-timers cham­pi­onship to Char­lot­te­town in 2018. He played on the Is­land squad that made the fi­nal when the tour­na­ment was here in 2012.

“I fig­ured that if we’re go­ing to play in the old-timers next year that I should prob­a­bly get on the field again and still see if there’s still some game in the old body,” he said be­fore tak­ing the field.

JA­SON MAL­LOY/THE GUARDIAN

The Char­lot­te­town Jays is an old-timers team play­ing in the Kings County Base­ball League. From left are Greg Sta­ple­ton, Craig Cooper and Brodie Hughes, who is one of the youngest mem­bers of the squad.

JA­SON MAL­LOY/THE GUARDIAN

Thane Arse­nault, of the Char­lot­te­town Jays, scores ahead of the tag from Morell Che­vies catcher Cole Ma­cLaren dur­ing Wed­nes­day’s Kings County Base­ball League con­test at Memo­rial Field.

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