Woodslee Orioles celebrate new backstop

by Garrett Fodor

On Saturday, the Woodslee Orioles hosted a day of festivities, featuring all five of the Woodslee-based baseball teams in action, for the special unveiling of a new backstop at Reg Chevailler Park, which is located on Orioles Park Drive, the home of the Association since the late 1950s.

  The park has had its fair share of upgrades from the infield, to lights in 1999, to the digital scoreboard in 2005. This year’s edition to the park, a 3-foot-tall decorative brick backstop, took years of planning and fundraising to create.

  The park received its namesake in 2016 from one of the biggest presences, Reg Chevailler, who ran the organization for a number of years and looked after the grounds. He planted trees, maintained the grounds, looked out for the overall good of Woodslee Baseball. 

  A few years ago, Bryan Dunn, then President of the Association, had a vision to replace the backstop with a brick backstop that stretched from dugout-to-dugout, and add a protective netting above, providing an unobstructed view of the field.

  It began with getting Chevailler’s son, Reg Jr., involved and creating an artist’s rendition of this vision.

  “Our former and original chain-link fence was deteriorating, and the rusted links provided an ugly view for parents, family, friends, and fans who came to watch the game,” Jim Dunn said, who is Vice President of the Association.

  A committee was formed in February of 2017, and members began working with engineer Mark McCloskey to get estimates for costs and further reached-out to local builders and contractors. The estimated cost of the project was $50,000. Fundraising then began. Demolition of the former infrastructure began at the end of season in 2017.

  The fundraising efforts for the backstop surpassed their goal. Over $40,000 was raised, with the extra money going to a cement walkway behind the brick backstop. The local companies worked steadily on the project before finishing it in early May.

  “Woodslee is not the biggest town, but we have baseball facilities that are among best in the community, especially with the addition of the backstop,” Jamie Bonneau said, who is a 21-year-old member of the Orioles junior team. “This park shows the hard work and dedication of people who volunteer their time to Woodslee Baseball and how much the power of sport brings the community together.”

  The celebration on Saturday featured a free barbeque and a chance to cheer on every Orioles team as they played against each other, the Belle River Braves, and the Windsor Hawks in exhibition games, throughout the day.

  Dunn said this project could not have been made possible without the contributions of time and money from the community and current and former alumni of the Woodslee Orioles, who were always willing to extend a hand.

© 2020 The Essex Free Press ltd.

  • Facebook - White Circle
  • Twitter - White Circle
  • issuu