NHL stars come out to support the Team Up Foundation
By Andrew Schopp
As an NHL all-star, Doug Gilmour could score goals. But there were no home-runs from the Hall of Famer at the inaugural “Dougieball” softball match at Christie Pits Park on July 19.
“Some of these guys with the power, they’ll be going for it today. Not me: I’ll hurt myself,” said Gilmour prior to digging in at the plate.
Two teams fielded by former and current NHL all-stars, “Team Gilmour” and “Team Lindros,” went head-to-head in a slow-pitch softball match to raise funds for the Maple Leafs Sports Entertainment Team Up Foundation (TUF). The charitable organization is dedicated to refurbishing athletic facilities and contributing to youth sports programs.
TUF recently made a sizable donation to Toronto Community Housing to improve the outdoor hockey rink in Regent Park and set the course for the construction of more extensive athletic facilities in the community.
“Whether it’s a soccer field, baseball diamond, or hockey arena, keeping the kids in the community playing sports, that’s what it’s all about,” said Gilmour.
“It’s about keeping the kids motivated and off the streets.”
NHL superstars past and present were on hand to treat the crowd to softball action, including Phoenix Coyotes forward Paul Bissonnette and former Maple Leafs tough guy Shayne Corson.
“I’m always big to jump on board charities. I got a chance to meet with Doug and when he asked me to come down it was a no-brainer. I cleared my schedule to come down and help him out,” said Bissonnette.
The NHL athletes participating in the game were happy to use their star power to draw a large crowd and help give the gift of sports to less fortunate communities.
“As a hockey player, and being an athlete, it was hard even for me growing up wondering why people look up to players the way we did,” said Corson.
“We’re just playing the game we love to play, but if we can use that to get people out here and help raise money for a great cause, then that’s what we should do. Kids are our future and are the most important part of the world. We want to give them every opportunity to be successful, be happy and enjoy life like we did.”
Dougieball t-shirts, hats, and other merchandise were sold to fans, with all proceeds going to Team Up Foundation.
The free event allowed fans a chance to meet and greet their hockey heroes and score some autographs.
One local resident, Francesca Garcea, 22, was enthralled to spend her birthday at the event and to meet her all-time favourite Maple Leaf, “Killer Doug.”
“I thought, what better way to spend my birthday than to watch some of my hockey heroes play some baseball,” said Garcea.
“I definitely think it’s a great cause, especially getting the community involved. It’s definitely a great event to throw and there are a lot of kids here with camps and stuff, so it’s definitely an opportunity for them to meet their hockey heroes.”
Bissonnette kicked off the game with a lead-off inside the park homerun for Team Gilmour. Gilmour’s squad carried the momentum throughout the game.
New York Rangers defenseman Michael Del Zotto, using a hockey glove rather than a baseball mitt, ended the game with a spectacular final out catch, clinching Team Gilmour the 15-13 victory.
All photos by Andrew Schopp/Gleaner News