Ballplayers take care of their own with oldtimers tournament

The Vancouver Island men’s fastball community is closely knit, so when one of their own is in need, it doesn’t matter where he comes from.

The Vancouver Island men’s fastball community is closely knit, so when one of their own is in need, it doesn’t matter where he comes from.

This year’s Gord Closson Oldtimers Fall Classic will serve as a fundraiser for the family of Lantzville player Steve Wallace, who have had a difficult 2016 so far.

Wallace’s son Mason was born eight weeks premature on Feb. 20 after complications required his mom, Raianne, to be airlifted to Victoria for the delivery.

Mason and Raianne spent the first month of his life in the Victoria General NICU, while Steve travelled back and forth from Campbell River with their other son, three-year-old Jaeden. Mason finally went home in mid March.

In April, on what was supposed to be the day of Mason’s baby shower, he turned blue and stopped breathing and was rushed to hospital in Nanaimo before being airlifted to Victoria again. Doctors discovered he was battling five different viruses, including whooping cough, but assured the Wallaces he would make it.

He went to B.C. Children’s Hospital in Vancouver, where Steve and Raianne were given a different prognosis, that Mason was unlikely to survive. He spent 60 days at the hospital, most of that time sedated, paralyzed and on life support, and also developed a clot in his thigh and had to be put on blood thinners.

After 52 days, Mason shocked the specialists by becoming healthy enough to come off the ventilator, and eight days later was able to go home. He is still on blood thinners and will need follow-up appointments for several years. As a result of Mason’s health issues, Steve was off work for several months, and proceeds from this weekend’s tournament will go to help the family.

The tournament at Waldon Park in Glenora will feature eight teams. The Masters Division will include local squads Gord’s Geriatrics, Belfor Restorations, Rock Creek Revival and Dogpatch, while the Open Division will feature the Bangers — who will include several players from the Nanaimo Senior Men’s Fastball League champion Gord Closson Forest Products — as well as NSMFL teams Baker Supply and Lantzville Pub, and the Rangers.

The tournament will begin with two games on Friday at 6:30 p.m. Play resumes Saturday at 8 a.m. and goes all day with the last games starting at 5 p.m. The popular wooden bat game will be played at noon.

Playoffs will take place on Sunday, with the championship game at 3 p.m.