A group of midget-aged baseball players comprised of young men aged 16-19 from Campbell River, Courtenay, Gold River and Quadra Island are heading to Cuba in May for a week of baseball, and humanitarian causes in the spirit of friendship through the game.
The Apple Electric NI Midgets will be playing teams in Union De Reyes out of the Matanzas baseball association. The North Island boys will be joined by a midget team from Chemainus.
This journey began a couple of years ago when the Chemainus Baseball Association’s Rob Dyke travelled to Cuba and brought with him a bunch of baseball gear for the local association in Union De Reyes. The Cubans were overwhelmed by this and invited him to bring a baseball team down to play them.
The Chemainus association went all in on this and raised the money to take a ball team down the following year, bringing with them humanitarian goods to give to the Cuban ball teams and families. The experience was one of a lifetime for both the Cuban and Canadian boys. When they played their final game in Cuba, even though they had brought ten large bags of gear and humanitarian goods, the Chemainus boys were so touched by the moment, that they were giving their opponents and new friends literally the shirts off their back and the cleats from their feet as they left the field.
The Cubans were so grateful that on the day that the Chemainus boys were leaving, they walked four-and-a-half hours to the hotel to say goodbye.
Flip the page to last summer, when the Cubans were invited to Vancouver Island for a friendship through baseball tour. They were here for one week and travelled from Victoria to Mt. Washington where the Campbell River Tyees midget rep team got to play them in Courtenay. It was an amazing experience for all. After an entertaining ball game before a very large crowd, a salmon BBQ was put on for them and their billet families from Chemainus.
Although the players and coaches spoke different languages (there was an interpreter), the interaction among them was incredible, and went on for some time ending with the Canadian boys standing in the parking lot waving goodbye to the Cuban bus as it pulled out.
Full circle, the North Island team was asked in November by the Chemainus group if they would like to take a team down and join them in Union De Reyes to continue on this incredible journey. A resounding yes, came from here. With the help from sponsor Apple Electric who supplied the team with hats and jerseys, and community support through ongoing fundraising efforts, the team will be flying out on May 7, taking with them humanitarian goods and ball gear to give away.
The team will be hosting a Beer & Burger with Silent Auction event at the Anchor Inn on Sunday, March 11. Tickets can be picked up at the Anchor Inn, from a team member, or by emailing the group. They are also doing an ongoing bottle drive to raise money, if you have any donations of bottles, humanitarian donations of used baseball equipment or school supplies, please contact the group at firstname.lastname@example.org and they will gladly come and pick them up.