Chevalier Field to take on big league look

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Chevalier-Fieldby Fred Groves

If you build it, they will come. If you improve it, they will keep coming back.

For those who make baseball a part of their lives, the ball diamond in Woodslee is a jewel, a diamond in the rough.

Known for decades as Oriole Park, the ball park was renamed Reg Chevalier Field in honour of the man who devoted countless years to the up keep of the field and the winning tradition in the small community.

Now, those who have taken over for the late baseball guru want to bring a big league feel to the place that from early spring until late fall is a beehive of activity.

According to Jim Dunn and his son, Bryan, a fundraising campaign is now underway to build a three-foot high brick backstop from one dugout to the next. Also in the works is the elimination of the chain-link fence for a mesh that will provide better visibility for fans.

“It takes this park to the next level. Too bad Reg can’t see it,” Bryan said.

Through the golf tournament and other events, the Woodslee Orioles have raised about a third of the nearly $50,000 the renovations will cost, and are hoping to have it in place by the start of next year’s baseball season.

Reg Chevalier Field is what could be called, ‘out in the middle of no where,’ but those who visit remember the fine condition of the park that few places can brag about.

“When people come here from Toronto, they can’t believe it,” Jim said.

Last year, a baseball team from Ireland was making the trip over to Detroit and taking batting practice at Comerica Park. A few of the players had actually heard about the park in Woodslee, so they stopped by.

“They wanted to know if they could have a workout here. A couple of Canadians who play on the Irish team have played here,” Bryan said.

The park is backdropped with mature trees and even the driveway has trees, which were all part of Reg Chevalier’s doing. The municipality does not own the park as it has been part of the Orioles pride since the late 1950s.

And while Jim makes sure, even in drought-like Essex County conditions, that the manicured grass is green and ready to be played upon, everyone lends a hand in the upkeep.

“Every team has a responsibility of taking care of the facility. We have a spring and fall cleanup that’s mandatory for every team to do,” Jim added.

Anyone wishing to donate to the new brick backstop at Reg Chevalier Field can contact Bryan Dunn at woodsleebaseballassociation@outlook.ca.