The sounds of clanking bats and the slap of the catcher’s mitt that echo from the ball diamond were joined by a chorus of voices singing ‘The more we get together’ and frequent laughter at the Don Dietrich Fun Slo-Pitch Tournament June 26-27 in St. Clements.
“‘The more we get together’ was Don’s favourite song,” said Brenda ‘Beanzie’ Brenner, a member of the St. Clements Recreation Service Board and friend of the Dietrich family. “The theme of the weekend was fun. When we were cleaning up, we noticed that there was no food left, and no beer left, so we know people had a good time.”
This was the first outing for what is planned to be an annual event in honour of St. Clements resident Don Dietrich who died of cancer this year at the age of 74. Dietrich lived his whole life in St. Clements and participated in and coached a variety of sports, including hockey and baseball.
Laurine MacDermott played on a women’s softball team coached by Dietrich and returned this weekend to play three games at the age of 86. She was joined by Dietrich’s extended family and friends, young and old, who all took their turn up at bat.
Each team played three one-hour games. The tournament attracted more than 120 players from across the region, with some members of the Dietrich family coming from as far away as Nova Scotia to join the celebration.
When Dietrich passed away this year, donations were made to the Don Dietrich Memorial Fund. Those funds have since been donated to the St. Clements Recreation Service Board to go towards the purchase and installation of a play structure at the soccer facility. The structure will be set up, possibly as soon as this week, to give young children a place to play while their siblings are playing soccer.
“We didn’t want the weekend to be about competition,” said Brenner. “The only people who will win are the kids when they get their new play equipment.”
Before the tournament, the fund held about $4,200 and the service board pitched in the extra funds to cover the $13,000 structure. Brenner estimates that the tournament brought in close to $5,000 from the teams’ $100 entry fee, funds to be turned over to the rec. board when the final tally is in.
Although the project will likely be completed this calendar year, the committee plans to hold the tournament in Dietrich’s name for many years to come.
“Donny was a vital member of our community,” said Brenner. “He knew everyone and everyone knew him. He was always there to help out, or simply to play. This is the kind of event he would have loved, and I know that he would have been proud of this.”