Everyone is on board, it’s now up to the City of Trail to give a thumbs up to the proposal to change the name of Trail’s local baseball stadium to ‘Jason Bay Field at Butler Park.’
Longtime J. L. Crowe teacher and baseball fan, Luigi (Lou) DeRosa, organized the proposal to honour Bay, a former Major League baseball player. He submitted the proposal at Tuesday’s council meeting and is hoping for a positive response from the city.
“It’s been done in other places of B.C.,” said DeRosa. “Larry Walker Field in Maple Ridge, Wayne Norton Field in Port Moody, Ryan Dempster Field in Gibson, Justin Morneau Field in New Westminster and other places in Canada. The idea was suggested to me by a former Trail resident and I thought it was a good idea so I carried it through.”
Bay is one of Trail’s greatest ambassadors, a three-time Major League Baseball All Star, National League Rookie of the Year, and recent inductee into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame.
As a teacher at Crowe, DeRosa was heavily involved in sports and assisted coach Andy Bilesky in leading the 1982 Trail Little League team to the BC and Canadian Championship, and ultimately to the Little League World Series.
He watched Bay grow up playing baseball in Trail, and receive a scholarship to a North Idaho College, before advancing to Gonzaga University. Bay was drafted by the Montreal Expos in the 22nd round in 2000 and went on to play 11 years in the majors, with over 5,000 at bats, 1,200 hits and 222 home runs. But the many awards and accomplishments achieved throughout his career pales in comparison to the class and character he displayed throughout.
“At the end of my career, I hope my roommates say, ‘I was a better person than a player,'” Bay said at his Hall of Fame induction ceremony. “I always tried to be the same guy every day, whether I was 0-for-4 or 4-for-4.”
Bay, himself, sanctioned the move, saying, “I absolutely give permission to add my name to Butler Park. It would be a great honour. Please let me know if there’s anything I can do!”
DeRosa canvassed and received support from many longtime residents and organizations such as Trail Minor Baseball, Trail Youth Baseball, Trail AM Ford Orioles, the United Steelworkers of America Local 480, and KidSport Trail. He even convinced author Bob Elliot, former sports columnist with the Ottawa Citizen and and Toronto Sun, to pen a letter of support.
“Jason Bay represented the city of Trail well no matter where he played,” wrote Elliot. “He spoke proudly of his hometown and its out-STAND-ing sporting tradition. That’s why I heartily endorse Lou’s suggestion to name the field after Jason Bay.”
For DeRosa, there is no better way than by connecting Trail’s finest baseball facility, Butler Park, to its biggest Major League Baseball star and his storied career.
“The accomplishments of local persons that bring nationwide pride need to be recognized in order to continue to promote our city as a leader in amateur sport,” said DeRosa. “We are ‘The City of Champions’ and need to continue to build that brand in public ways.”
The person for whom the park is currently named, Sydney Butler, was Trail Mayor from 1915-17 and is believed to have attended the 1927 Butler Park induction ceremony. There is no desire to remove Butler’s name from the park, only to add ‘Jason Bay Field’ on an arch above the sign, added DeRosa.