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SPORTS: Baseball Leafs navigate a new era at Christie Pits (July 2022)

July 18th, 2022 · No Comments

“Unfinished Business” the theme of this year’s squad

Starting pitcher Zach Sloan, seen here delivering a pitch on June 12, had a hand in two recent shutout victories for the Toronto Maple Leafs at Christie Pits. The Leafs defeated the Brantford Red Sox 14-0. R. S. KONJEK/GLEANER NEWS

By R.S. Konjek

New era. Unfinished business.

Those are the twin themes of the Toronto Maple Leafs who are in the midst of their fifty-third season of intercounty league baseball at Christie Pits.

The expanded 42-game 2022 season got underway in May with the Leafs and seven other clubs from around southern Ontario competing to see who will hoist the Dominico Cup as league champions this September.

Last fall, the Leafs fell one win short of the title, losing the deciding game of the championship series to the London Majors. Out of that defeat, the mantra of unfinished business was born.

In January, longtime owner Jack Dominico passed away. The Leafs’ iconic figurehead operated the club for over half a century, practically its entire existence. After knowing only one boss for so long, the Leafs entered a new era.

A new front office team operates the club on behalf of Dominico’s estate until a new owner or ownership group can be found.

On the baseball side of things, Damon Topolie returns as player-manager and as vice president of baseball operations, a role he previously shared with Dominico.

Ryan Eakin takes on the role of director of communications and game day operations.

“The goal right now is to make the franchise as viable as possible to a potential buyer and we are doing that through modernizing our social media platforms, YouTube broadcasts, and by [obtaining] new sponsors,” Eakin said.  “All this is with the hope that we will be able to continue the tradition of Maple Leafs Baseball at Christie Pits for years to come.”

Christie Pits remains the Leafs’ home and the park itself looks much as it always has.  The team on the field, however, looks very different.

The Leafs debuted crisp all-white uniforms, a departure from the various shades of blue worn by the team over the years.

The departure of several veteran bats provided opportunities for a large contingent of junior players, ranging in ages from 18 to 20, to fill the roster.

“I’ve been wanting to add some youth to the lineup for the last couple of seasons,” Topolie said.  “These kids had no idea this league even existed, so I wanted them to get an idea of what is available to them as a summer option before they go away to school.”

Many of the rookies have made their presence felt right away.

Toronto native Aidan McAskie is among the team leaders in hitting, home runs, and runs batted in.

On the mound, Mississauga’s Rhys Montgomery ranks high in the number of innings pitched, strikeouts, and earned run average.

“They have all impressed me,” Topolie said.  “They have competed and not looked out of place. Some of them deserve more opportunities as they may crack the lineup as future starters.”

In late June, the Leafs announced a surprise signing: former Oakland Athletics pitcher Angel Castro from the Dominican Republic.  

“We needed a horse, so we’re bringing in the horse,” Topolie said.

Castro joins fellow pitcher Dustin Richardson as former major leaguers who have come to play at the Pits.

Amid all the shuffling of names, faces and roles, the Leafs have gotten off to a solid start on the field.

Approaching the midway point of the season, they are third place in the league standings and hoping to make a strong push for the championship that eluded their grasp last year. The mantra of unfinished business is never far from their minds.

Win or lose, the overseers of Jack Dominico’s legacy want to keep the tradition going.

“I’m trying my best to make sure we have a team playing every Sunday afternoon at Christie Pits,” Topolie said. “Because of the uniqueness of our park, I really need the fans and local businesses to support the team.”

With large crowds in attendance, and the Leafs off to a winning start, the days ahead look bright.

The complete Maple Leafs schedule can be found at:


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