Whalley Chiefs general manager Paul Hargreaves in the stands at the club’s diamond at Whalley Athletic Park. (Photo: Tom Zillich)

Whalley Chiefs general manager Paul Hargreaves in the stands at the club’s diamond at Whalley Athletic Park. (Photo: Tom Zillich)

Surrey baseball clubs prep for spring games as COVID threatens another season

‘I’m really excited about this year, because we have the troops in place,’ Whalley Chiefs GM says

It’s soon time to play ball on Surrey’s diamonds, but will actual games be played?

The question is on the minds of many in the local baseball world as the COVID-19 pandemic threatens to balk another baseball season.

“We’re ready to go,” said Whalley Chiefs general manager Paul Hargreaves, “but we’re at the mercy of (Doctor) Bonnie Henry and the provincial health people, like everyone else.”

Hargreaves, boss of the B.C. Premier Baseball League club for more than two decades, says the current uncertainty is tough on everyone involved in the Chiefs’ five teams in different divisions and age groups, including players, coaches and parents.

“It’s making everyone goofy,” he said. “They’ve had two years of this now – or two seasons, really. I don’t know what’s going to happen if we’re told that we can’t play for another month, quite honestly. It’s getting to be tough on the mental side of it. The kids can practice only so much.”

Baseball organizations across Surrey are planning for some sort of spring season, according to a “Countdown to Baseball Season in Surrey” notice posted to surrey.ca.

“This year things will look different,” the web post confirms. “Baseball is currently in Phase 2 of the Return to Play (RTP) Guidelines as outlined in both the viaSport and Baseball BC Guidelines. Team training and development are permitted; however, games/tournaments and programming for those over the age of 22 are not permitted.”

(Story continues below)

Right now, parks crews are busy cutting ballpark grass as part of pre-season maintenance.

To get more kids playing the game, Newton Canadian Baseball Association is welcoming children under the age of nine to register for free, for Blast-ball (those born in 2016/17), Tee-ball (born 2014/15) and Tadpole (2012/13). The association’s catchment area is between 86 A Avenue and Colebrook Road, from 120th Street to 152nd. Details are posted to newtonbaseball.com.

Meantime, Whalley Little League’s southern-boundary catchment area has been expanded to 16th Avenue.

(Story continues below)

Elsewhere, Cloverdale Minor Baseball registration is underway online for Tadpole to Midget division, with spring-break clinics planned with coach John Parker, from March 15-19.

Fastpitch association Surrey Storm is also busy with pre-season registration and planned clinics this month, with all the details posted to surreystorm.com.

The Whalley Chiefs players have been in winter training for the past few months, and Hargreaves says they’re ready to hit the diamond on University Drive, where the grass was cut Feb. 26 for the first time this year.

• RELATED STORY, from August 2020: Whalley homecoming for baseball pro Kevin Nicholson.

Last summer, the Chiefs added former pro Kevin Nicholson to the coaching ranks, as Director of Baseball Operations, 23 years after being picked in the first round, 27th overall, by the San Diego Padres in the 1997 Major League Baseball draft.

“Kevin has really brought this (club) a lot of interest from players and even coaches,” Hargreaves said. “They want to be here and learn from him, know more about the game. He’s all about developing the players for that next step.

“I’m really excited about this year, because we have the troops in place,” he added.

For now, Hargreaves says the BCPBL’s plan is the play a schedule in two halves, in geographic cohorts of no more than 100.

“It’s four teams of 25, or five teams of 20, which most of the teams have,” Hargreaves explained. “It’s a 24-game schedule to start, from April to the end of May, have a two-week quarantine, then play the other cohort, fingers crossed, for the second part of the schedule, the second 24 games.

“Right now,” he added, “we’re not planning to have any carrot at the end — no provincial championships or anything, nothing like that planned, but that could change too, if the vaccinations happen and things are more under control (with COVID). But that’s out of our hands, we just hope we can get some games played.”

As Hargreaves talked, players with the Douglas College baseball team filed in for afternoon batting practice, as users of the indoor facility at Whalley Athletic Park.

“Those guys are over 21, and they can’t play at all because of their age,” Hargreaves noted. “How crazy is that?”

He said the Chiefs “didn’t miss a beat” during winter training indoors, and even found some outdoor practice times on the turf at Tom Binnie Park, located across the street.

“This is different for everyone,” Hargreaves said. “Every time (Dr. Henry) said something, we had to change things around, all the time. With 3,100 square feet in that (indoor) facility, you had to do some math to know how many people to put in there. When you have 22 on a roster, 19 on another and 20 on another, plus three or four coaches, you can do the math and logistics.

“It’s time to get outside now.”



tom.zillich@surreynowleader.com

Like us on Facebook Follow us on Instagram and follow Tom on Twitter

BaseballBC Premier Baseball LeagueSoftball

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Sports broadcaster and 30-year high school football coach Farhan Lalji. (Image via farhanlalji.com)
Farhan Lalji chats about the new B.C. high school sports governance proposal

Lalji, a 30-year high school football coach, thinks the new proposal will be bad for student athletes

Surrey city Councillor Brenda Locke. (File photo)
Surrey councillor trying to get policing referendum on the table, again

‘I’m sending it back for clarification,’ mayor decides

(James Smith photo)
North Delta crime beat, week of April 5

A selection of property crimes submitted weekly by the Delta Police Department

(Delta Police Department photo)
South Delta crime beat, week of April 5

A selection of property crimes submitted weekly by the Delta Police Department

Dr. Bonnie Henry speaks about the province’s COVID-19 vaccine plans during a news conference at the legislature in Victoria. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Dr. Bonnie Henry says Surrey immunization targeted at neighbourhoods most at risk

‘What we’ve been looking at is the case rates by neighbourhood,’ provincial health officer says

Rainbow trouts thrashing with life as they’re about to be transferred to the largest lake of their lives, even though it’s pretty small. These rainbows have a blue tinge because they matched the blue of their hatchery pen, but soon they’ll take on the green-browns of their new home at Lookout Lake. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
VIDEO: B.C. lake stocked with hatchery trout to delight of a seniors fishing club

The Cherish Trout Scouts made plans to come back fishing soon

Nick Warmerdam and his dog Diesel are inviting locals to check out the Lakeland Farm U-pick Flower Farm this spring. (Ben Lypka/Abbotsford News)
VIDEO & SLIDESHOW: Abbotsford’s Lakeland Flowers opens for spring

Tulip farm attraction opened on April 14, open to the public daily seven days a week

Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops. (Dave Eagles/Kamloops This Week file photo)
RCMP intercept vehicle fleeing with infant taken from Kamloops hospital

The baby was at the hospital receiving life-saving care

The female driver of this Jeep Grand Cherokee (right) was driving erratically with a young child inside on Highway 1 eastbound. After hitting a barrier and a parked car, she finally exited the highway at Yale Road West and came to a stop. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Video captures woman driving erratically with child after hitting barrier, car on Hwy 1 in Chilliwack

Smoke seen coming from SUV as it continues to travel eastbound of shoulder of highway

Former Pitt Meadows city councillor David Murray was convicted of sex assault, and is now being sued by the victim. (files)
Former Pitt Meadows city councillor sued for sex assault

David Murray was convicted in 2017 of sexually assaulting a teen 25 years earlier

Vancouver Police Const. Deepak Sood is under review by the Independent Investigations Office of B.C. after making comments to a harm reduction advocate Sunday, April 11. (Screen grab)
VIDEO: Vancouver officer convicted of uttering threats under watchdog review again

Const. Deepak Sood was recorded Sunday saying ‘I’ll smack you’ and ‘go back to selling drugs’ to a harm reduction advocate

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry prepares a daily update on the coronavirus pandemic, April 21, 2020. (B.C. Government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate persists, 1,005 new cases Friday

Hospitalization up to 425, six more virus-related deaths

Premier John Horgan receives a dose of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine at the pharmacy in James Bay Thrifty’s Foods in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, April 16, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. Premier John Horgan gets AstraZeneca shot, encourages others

27% of residents in B.C. have now been vaccinated against COVID-19

The Nautical Dog Cafe at Skaha marina is getting its patio ready in hopes Mother Nature will provide where provincial restrictions have taken away indoor dining. (Facebook)
‘A lot of instability’: B.C. restaurants in layoff limbo

As COVID-19 cases stay high, restaurants in British Columbia are closed to indoor dining

Most Read