Gleaner

Serving Toronto's most liveable communities with the Annex Gleaner and Liberty Gleaner

LIFE: Baseball Leafs prepare for a summer of action (Jun. 2021)

July 15th, 2021 · No Comments

Christie Pits set to welcome fans back to the old ballgame

As Ontario reopens after the pandemic shutdowns of the past year, the Maple Leafs look forward to a summer of baseball at Christie Pits. R.S. KONJEK/GLEANER NEWS

By R.S. Konjek

The sights and sounds of live baseball will return to Christie Pits this summer, and the Toronto Maple Leafs are raring to go. 

After the 2020 season was wiped out by the COVID-19 pandemic, players are dusting off their spikes and conveying their feelings about playing ball again.

“Ready,” says Garrett Takamatsu.

“Liberated,” says Grant Tamane.

“Super-pumped,” says Johnathan Solazzo.

In June, the Intercounty Baseball League’s proposal to play a shortened 2021 season was approved by the Ontario government, allowing for a July-August regular season and playoffs this September.

Over the next two months, the Leafs will play 15 home games at their traditional 2:00 pm Sunday and 7:30 pm Wednesday start times.

Now that it’s game on, Leafs manager Damon Topolie finds himself doing “a million things” to get his ballclub ready.

In early July he met with City of Toronto officials to confirm that Dominico Field could reopen for baseball, and that fans would be welcomed back to the park.

Although the city did not present any specific rules or requirements for reopening, fans coming to Christie Pits will be encouraged to observe the provincial COVID-19 health and safety guidelines that are still in effect.  Social distancing and facial coverings are two things that fans can continue to do.

As well, the Leafs are looking at restricting the seating behind the team benches to avoid those areas becoming overcrowded.  The hillsides surrounding the field will be wide open to all and admission is free.

Shortly before the season was scheduled to begin, city staff were seen mowing the grass and preparing the field for play.

Topolie has done an impressive job of constructing a team that will don the famous maple leaf logo this summer.

Popular veterans like Takamatsu, Tamane and Solazzo will be joined by two of the league’s top sluggers, Jordan Castaldo and Sean Reilly.  Both are one-time Leafs who spent most of their careers with other teams, but whose return ensures that the home team will have a potent lineup at the plate.

Topolie spent the final days before the season “still working on the pitching part.”

Starters Zach Sloan and Marek Deska are returning, but ongoing cross-border travel restrictions mean that Buffalo, New York native and veteran pitcher Justin Cicatello will be unable to start the season in Toronto.

Also stuck in Buffalo because of travel restrictions are the major league Blue Jays, a predicament that makes Topolie chuckle.

“We’re the only game in town right now,” he says, noting that from their inaugural season in 1969 to 1976, the Maple Leafs had the Toronto baseball scene all to themselves.  Until the Blue Jays are permitted to return to their home stadium, the Leafs will open the summer as the only baseball action available to fans in North America’s fourth largest city.

The Maple Leafs’ complete 2021 season schedule can be found at www.mapleleafsbaseball.com.

READ MORE: 

Tags: Annex · Sports · Life

0 responses so far ↓

  • There are no comments yet...Kick things off by filling out the form below.

Leave a Comment