The ninth annual Baseball Day in Orillia event is set for this Sunday.
The event is an afternoon-long celebration of the game of baseball and includes three different Orillia baseball, softball and slo-pitch organizations.
The festivities will take place at McKinnell Square Park and will get started with an Orillia Girls Softball League (OGSL) game and home run derby at 2 p.m.
Orillia Legion Minor Baseball (OLMB) players will take the field at 4 p.m. for a mixed game including players from both the U15 and U18 travel teams, with a home run derby following.
To finish off the day’s events, Wagner Lawn Care will take on the Studabakers Stallions in an Orillia Slo-Pitch League (OSPL) contest, followed by an OSPL home run derby.
Event organizer John Hammill says this year’s event will help grow the game of baseball in Orillia, as it has for nearly a decade.
“We are happy to have three local organizations involved this year,” he said.
“We are glad to be able to present three games, and in one of them, we will be including (girls softball) for the first time. We are excited to have everybody involved.”
Playing during Baseball Day in Orillia is a special privilege for local players, Hammill says.
“There is a public address announcer, walk-up music ... it has a special feel that adds a little excitement and fun for our players,” he said.
“This is kind of like the Field of Dreams game for the players who play on this day, it has a sentimental value to it. I think a lot of players circle this day on the calendar," he explained.
The annual fundraiser for the Orillia Sports Hall of Fame has raised about $1,000 annually.
“The Orillia Sport Hall of Fame has been inducting local athletes and builders since 2015. These funds will be put toward the sitting area and display cabinets at the new Orillia Recreation Centre which houses the Hall of Fame,” Hammill said.
“I think our players enjoy knowing that we played a part in contributing to the Hall of Fame’s legacy.”
Orillia Sport Hall of Fame member and former Olympic boxer Walter Henry will be throwing out the ceremonial first pitch before the OSPL game gets underway.
Hammill admits the event has taken a hit over the past two years because of the COVID-19 pandemic; there are far fewer games and players involved compared to a celebration of Orillia baseball in a normal year.
“We are looking forward to building the program back up, and we are expecting big things for next year when we celebrate the tenth annual Baseball Day in Orillia,” he said.
Those who would like to donate to the event can do so at McKinnell Square Park this Sunday. However, event attendees are asked to keep their social distance and not be lingering around the diamond because of COVID-19 safety protocols.
Hammill thanks event sponsors, Metro Orillia, Autoflex, OrilliaMatters, and the City of Orillia.