Submitted by Julie Brown

This past weekend we celebrated the rebirth of baseball in our community and hosted the 13U Provincial Playoffs at our newly rebuilt ballpark.  

The original six-team tournament was cancelled on June 5 by Little League BC due to lack of commitment to travel to our region. Nevertheless, we showed up in Kootenay style to host an event that showcased grit, character and rising.  I couldn’t be prouder of our 13U Bandits players and coaches, team parents and family, our volunteers and our community at large. Congratulations to locals Liam Catleugh and Quentin Evans who played with grit and composure in some tough games.

Our Friday evening event gave us an opportunity to tell the story of our park and the people that have built it over the years.  

The park was originally built in 1964 on land leased from the Windermere Social Services Society, who acquired the land as a donation from Randolph Bruce. The land was later donated to the District of Invermere with the condition it remained for public recreational use. It was the people of the community, their tenacity and collective spirit that built the original Pynelogs Ball Park. They cleared and levelled the land, seeded the field, built an entire outfield fence from wood with hammer and nail, and a chainsaw to level the top rail. It was a community effort, and we remain indebted to their initiative to put a ballpark in such a beautiful location, next to the lake. It was Rotary in 1981 that took on the task of restoring the park, and levelling it up with lights, stands, a concession and bathrooms.  

In the fall of 2021, we decided it was our turn and appealed to the Jays Care Foundation to help us save our ballpark from development, and restore the field to playability. What came of that has been extraordinary. The Columbia Basin Trust contributed the largest amount of monies to allow us to build a shade structure and create an accessible space for the entire comunity. We have now raised nearly $300,000 and built a beautiful park to be proud of, and to host great ball games for years to come.  

In the process of learning about the rich history of our ball park, we made an appeal to restore the origins of the park in its name. In December 2022,  we proposed a combined name to council. It was unanimously approved to rename the park to Pynelogs Rotary Ball Park, Field Of Dreams.  

Jim Lebourdier, longtime local baseball coach, threw out the first pitch (of the tournament), caught by Jarrett Chasse, who grew up playing at the park coached by Jim and many other committed volunteers. Local singing phenom Alyssa Shaw sang the national anthem with such beauty it sent sweet chills through many in the crowd. In the end, the Fraser Valley Firebirds were the victors.   

Sport is so much more than a scoreboard. It’s about life lessons, self-discovery and working together as a team. As Babe Ruth said: “You just can’t beat the person who never gives up.”

Thank you to all that have helped bring this ballpark back to life, and to those that had the foresight to build it and rebuild it before us.

There will be Sandlot Nights in August and Fall Ball in September. Look for announcements and registration links in early August on Instagram, FB and our website.  

Congratulations to Ethan Dewey, Miles Hemmelgarn and Memphis Martin who are headed to Provincials next week with the 12U Bandits after a strong win over the West Kootenay Trail All Stars.

See you at the park.