The Ontario Blue Jays baseball club is rallying in support of Abbotsford B.C. and a premier league team who has lost virtually everything after floodwaters ravaged the training center and baseball field for the Abbotsford Cardinals.
“It’s tough not being on the ground there in all honesty, I wanted to hop on a plane and get out there but it’s not about me.
“At this point in time, we’re trying to raise awareness.”
“Thankfully the baseball community in Canada it’s a special place and there’s been a lot of people who have reached out,” explains Corey Eckstein, president of the Ontario Blue Jays.
Eckstein came to Ontario in 2019 from Abbotsford where he was a longtime coach of the Cardinals and program director at Yale Baseball Academy.
“To see the families that are struggling and losing their homes and losing their livelihoods it’s really just tough to wrap my head around now,” added Eckstein.
Donations are being accepted for the team which also offers two training academies, Yale Baseball being one of them. A GoFundMe page has raised more than $16,000 for the team which is grappling with water that’s seven feet high inside and outside the facility. The team says it will need to purchase new turf, pitching machines, batting cages, pitching mounds, baseballs, protective screens and nets.
“To see the state it’s in now is just heartbreaking, so many people are going down and their jaws are dropping when they go down there to have a look,” explains General Manager Shawn Besse.
“It’s almost cresting our outfield fence, it all happened within four hours.”
Players and coaches were in the facility when floodwaters began to rise as they tried to save as much equipment as they could.
“Everyone was rushing to help and it’s really unfortunate the waters got as high as they did because we didn’t expect it to get that high,” explained Cardinals fielder Kaden Tarnowski.
“It was very panicked and scary.”
Tarnowski is a Grade 12 student who has been working towards landing a baseball scholarship. He’s interested in sports medicine but for him and many other players, the team’s future is uncertain – it’s unknown whether the team will be back up and running for the 2022 season.
“I’m at that field every single day for five, six hours a day, and striving towards scholarships and stuff is going to be really hard without a facility for the next little while. Hopefully, we’re up and running soon, says the 17-year-old.
“It’s very discouraging for me, trying to look towards the next level.”
The baseball community across the country has really stepped up to the plate, offering not only monetary donations but equipment as well in an effort to get that beloved team back up on its feet and out on the field.
“Thankfully the baseball community in Canada, it’s a special place and there’s been a lot of people who’ve reached out,” added Eckstein
The team’s fundraiser can be found on the GoFundMe site.