After marking 50 years of hard work at Glenora’s Waldon Park ballfields in 2019, the Gord Closson Fall Classic isn’t going away, and will kick off its second half-century this August 21-23.
Closson and fellow tournament organizer Joe DiLalla discussed taking a year off due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but decided in the end that they could still make it happen.
“We weren’t sure what to do,” DiLalla admitted. “Even in May and June, the feeling was that it wasn’t going to go ahead.”
More recently, however, DiLalla got wind of a couple of tournaments taking place successfully in Kelowna under coronavirus protocols, and figured if they could do it, why not hold the Fall Classic.
“Everything worked out fine [in Kelowna],” DiLalla said. “They had rules to follow.”
Among the rules players at this year’s tournament will have to follow: only one person in the dugout at a time, and the defensive team provides balls for their half-inning. The beer gardens will be limited to 50 people in the space at any one time, and no more than six to a table. Posters and washing stations will also be put up around the park.
The plan has been given the go-ahead by the proper authorities.
“The last thing we want is to do something like this and have it blow up in our face,” DiLalla said.
The recipients of the proceeds from this year’s tournament will be the family of Mark Olson, a Cowichan Valley man who died suddenly on March 29, leaving behind his wife Ashley and young sons Ace and Axel.
DiLalla has been doing upkeep at the park on a weekly basis all summer to make sure it is ready if and when it is needed. A new covered area between the two ball fields could be ready in time for the Classic if trusses can be procured in time.
The park hasn’t gone unused. Community drop-in softball started up recently, and a U16 girls fastball team has been practicing there for games in Langford. The Duncan Tigers, who usually play their home games at Waldon Park, have been out of action most of the year, although the Nanaimo Senior Men’s Fastball League recently started holding games in Cedar on Tuesday and Thursday nights, following similar rules to what will be in place at the Classic, and several of the Duncan players have been playing with the Parksville Red Sox.
The usual 10 to 12 teams are expected to take part in this year’s Fall Classic. A team from Saskatchewan has expressed interest in making the trip to Vancouver Island.
“Word gets out, and they want to be part of the fundraiser,” DiLalla said. “The story gets out about what we’re trying to do here.”
DiLalla is confident that the right measures will be taken to ensure the safety of players and fans.
“I think if we do it right, we shouldn’t end up with anything stupid happening,” he said.