Posts Tagged ‘baseball’

Dunbar Little League

Sunday, March 19th, 2017

Champion of Dunbar Village.

You can almost hear the aluminum bat ping, smell the burgers on the grill and feel the teams’ collective energy as David Berrington enthusiastically describes his involvement with Dunbar Little League (DLL).

David-Berrington-DLL-Dunbar-LifeDavid is president of DLL’s board and he’s a huge fan of the organization. This season DLL celebrates its sixtieth season, making it Vancouver’s second oldest Little League. Although the season is short, three months in total from April to June, in addition to tournament season (mid-June to the end of July), DLL is a true community anchor.

Volunteers are fully responsible for running DLL and there is no problem getting people out to lend a hand. David says, “This is not drop and go, this is drop and participate.”

“We have the strongest volunteer base of any league we interact with. We measure our success by our community spirit.” David Berrington

An example of community spirit is the pre-season field preparation workday; approximately 150 people turn out every year without fail. They come equipped with hoes, shovels and rakes to weed, put up fences, and spread “red gold” which is what David jokingly says they call the expensive dirt.

He mentions that season openers draw as many as 500 kids and 1,000 family members. He adds, “No other Dunbar events have a turn out like this.” Closing day also draws huge crowds. An annual parade kicks off the day, beginning at West King Edward Avenue and processes, complete with police escorts, along Dunbar Street to Memorial Park. With as many as 700 kids, coaches and parents joining in, by the time they reach the park the numbers double in size with the awaiting crowd.

Community celebrations are at the heart of DLL. Perhaps it is because, as David acknowledges, “Baseball has a rich tradition of history and ceremony” that they place value on commemorating special occasions. On Mother’s Day the concession stand is off limits – no mothers are allowed to volunteer. Instead, mothers and grandmothers are showered with adoration in the form of a cooked breakfast made by the dads.

Another notable occasion is the annual coaches game. This one night tournament is an opportunity for everyone to come out and watch the coaches play. A volunteer who happens to be a restaurateur, came up with the idea of offering a special menu of meatball sandwiches and crab rolls at the concession stand, which met with great approval. As many as 300 people have come out to cheer on the coaches; kids act as umpires and get an opportunity to make announcements. Pancake day for the Majors players is an opportunity to shine the spotlight on the senior players prior to the playoffs. They hold fun competitions and players receive a commemorative pin in appreciation of their time spent with DLL.

Players and their families are guaranteed to be neighbours due to set boundaries within the Dunbar area.

Only accepting registrations from Dunbar kids creates instant connections with one another at Memorial Park and Balaclava Park, which are the home parks to the 500 DLL players who range in age from 4 to 12.

Beginning at age 4 children can sign up for T-ball where they will get their first taste of being a Little Leaguer. At age 7 they progress to Minor B division (the only level that plays at Balaclava Park), at age 9 they advance to Minor A and finally at age 11 through 12 they reach Majors division at Memorial Park’s big diamond.

All teams are co-ed and it’s never too late to learn to play baseball. David notes that while registration has already taken place for the older divisions, T-ball registration is underway during the month of February.

“The concession turns a small profit every year. It’s not about making a profit, it’s about the community feeling.” David Berrington

The concession is open to everyone; residents will often stroll by and make a purchase. For $5 you can purchase a burger and drink. Popcorn, hot dogs, Caesar salad wraps and slushies are all very popular but the top seller by far is the candy bags priced at a mere 50 cents. Over the course of a season DLL sells over 6,000 bags. Groups of volunteers meet twice a season to bag the candy.

With 50 DLL teams in total there are plenty of opportunities for local businesses to get involved as sponsors. David mentions there is a waiting list to sponsor the Majors level. Businesses benefit from exposure to local residents but it is also a philanthropic investment in the neighbourhood that drives many to get involved.

How did David get involved? Although he did not play baseball as a child he made a point of introducing his two sons to a variety of sports. They became hooked and have worked their way up through DLL. His oldest son has now moved on to Bantam Triple A with Vancouver Community Baseball. His youngest son is completing his final year in DLL’s Majors division.

DLL logo sqDavid admits that as a human resources consultant his strength is managing and leading people. He has thoroughly enjoyed volunteering for DLL. With one final year as president he admits, “I’ll miss it terribly. The involvement I have is special.” He will remain for an additional year as past president, but will always be involved in some capacity. “I don’t own the league. I have been a caretaker for a few years. You always hope to leave an organization in a better place when you move on,” he says.

Regarding the sixtieth anniversary season DLL plans to host an alumni game and hold a party in June which all former coaches and players are invited to attend. Information and details will be forthcoming on DLL’s website at www.dunbarbaseball.ca

Dunbar Little League

Sunday, April 7th, 2013

The crack of the bat, the smell of the leather glove and the welcoming sun on your face. Baseball season is here again.

I have fond memories of playing for Dunbar Little League (DLL) as a child where I spent many hours at the park with family and friends. We ate Dickie Dee Ice Cream, dads coached, and I played right field frequently. Not much has changed since then but those memories never prepared me for my experience as a DLL parent.

This, my friend, is a whole new ball game.To most, Dunbar Little League represents community, friendships, sportsmanship and a rite of childhood passage. DLL is all those things and more to the parents and the players.

The journey usually starts with Blastball, a lighthearted introduction to the game where players have a blast and parents are just happy to be out of the house.

Then you work your way up to T-Ball and things start to make sense, players are eager, and parents are happy to see the baseball “light” of inspiration click on.

Next is the big leap into Minor B, where it is all about the pitching machine and the shock of players when they actually can strike out. Up to this point, three strikes and you’re out was just a dark rumour whispered in the dug out.

Minor A is the ultimate separation of fact from fiction. There is a pitcher on the mound and he or she is actually trying to strike you out. The kids at bat are making contact and the fielders are making plays. It is amazing to watch the transformation. Players develop, parents become more invested and before you know it, we are playing the game of baseball.

DLL’s Majors division is all of those great things and more. Not only do you get to sit back and enjoy the exciting ‘after school special’ entertainment, you become part of the whole production.

As with most children’s organized sports, parent volunteers are essential, but no one can prepare a parent for his or her first day working a concession shift. The math alone is terrifying. But nothing says bonding like burgers grilled for the love of the game and the kids playing it.

Dunbar Little League means many things to many people. Here are my Top 10 highlights and observations:

  • It is a true neighbourhood game. The catchment is so small that kids often play against their neighbours, classmates, friends, and sometimes even against their own brother or sister.
  • The season is short but intense.
  • Games played at the same location means not having to drive all over the Lower Mainland.
  • The promise of sunshine and the relief of rain cancellations.
  • Concession – feeding a family of five for only $25, trying the Umpire Burger and liking it, 50-cent candy bags buy you an hour of peace, eating more hot dogs and hamburgers in an eight week span than you normally do in a whole year.
  • Working at the concession – grill masters who bring their own aprons, parents having a hard time with math, cooking more for the community in a couple of hours than you can for your own family during the season. Getting to know the parents on your team and enjoying a good laugh.
  • A Majors scorekeeping rookie mistake, forgetting to change the scoreboard or worse, not keeping proper pitch count.
  • Dunbar stadium seating discussions with fellow parents include dreams of custom seat cushions and heated wind protection.
  • Siblings being dragged to their brother or sister’s game only to realize they are having a 2-3 hour playdate with the neighbourhood kids. Throw in a hot dog and a candy bag or two for dinner, and this becomes the highlight of their week!
  • Later bed times and homework gone by the wayside in exchange for less screen time and great sleeps. Note: pace your candy bag accordingly.

Dunbar Little League is a treasured neighbourhood institution that has stood the test of time. This positive imprint in our neighbourhood would not be possible if it wasn’t for the dedication of our DLL families, volunteers, sponsors and support from our community.

Hope to see you at the diamond!

by Nicole Wong Koroluk

Dunbar Little League is one of the first leagues in Canada and started in 1958. The league is known and respected throughout Canada for its spirit of fair play and offering boys and girls, regardless of their level of skill, the opportunity to play baseball, learn some skills and have fun. Most of the league’s games are played at Memorial Park located at Dunbar Street and West 33rd Avenue, however Minor B games are played at Balaclava Park.

www.dunbarbaseball.ca