It was a special day for two families on Saturday, June 23, 2018, as families, friends and lovers of baseball came out to dedicate two diamonds in honour special people from the community of Port Hope at 11 a.m.
Members of Council, Municipal staff, residents and friends of Port Hope gathered at the Town Agricultural Park to celebrate the grand re-opening and dedication ceremony of the newly refurbished ball diamonds, which included re-naming the diamonds the Ted Watts Sr. Ball Diamond and the Gord & Hazel Isaac Ball Diamond..
The celebration of the ball diamond dedications also signaled the completion of the Canada 150 Federal Infrastructure Grants, where more than $250,000 was awarded to the Municipality for various initiatives throughout the community in 2017 and 2018. These projects included a new accessible playground at Alex Carruthers Park in Garden Hill, Jack Burger Sports Complex LED Road sign, upgrades to the trail along the Ganaraska River, Wladyka Park washroom and shelter, rink board replacement and refurbishment at Jack Burger and Caroline Street rink, as well as upgrades to the seniors ball diamond at Town Park
Rounding out the celebration, two permanent ball diamond signs were unveiled to mark the fields and a friendly pick-up game of baseball ensued.
Biographies of the Dedication Recipients:
Ted Watts Sr.
Ted Watts Sr. was a well-known businessman and sports enthusiast. His wife Jean supported him every step of the way in his involvement in local sports. In 1946, Ted, along with others, formed the Beaver Athletic Association. They provided organized baseball and hockey for the youth in Port Hope. Ted was a devoted baseball fan and was instrumental in forming the Juvenile Baseball Team. For several years he used his own equipment, time and supplies to prepare the ball diamond for home games. In 1953, Ted managed the team to the Ontario Baseball Championship. His belief was, “if you keep kids in sports, you keep them out of trouble”.
Gord and Hazel Isaac:
Gord and Hazel Isaac lived on Elgin Street, South in Port Hope for over 50 years. They first got involved at the Town Park by volunteering at a summer camp with children, doing arts, crafts, and woodworking. As honorary caretakers of the Park, they were given a key to the washrooms, and they would open and close them every day during the spring, summer and fall. Gord and Hazel would often be seen walking around the ball fields and Park two and three times a day, picking up trash. Anytime there were ball games on the diamonds, they would return afterwards to clean up the fields and underneath the bleachers. The couple allowed the local baseball and soccer teams to store their equipment in their own garage, giving full access to the teams, whenever needed.
Municipality of Port Hope Councillor responsible for the Parks, Recreation and Culture portfolio spoke during the ceremony.
On behalf of Council of the Municipality of Port Hope, I would like to take this opportunity to welcome all of you to this wonderful occasion. Thank you to Kim Rudd, our local MP, for the support that has allowed our community to complete these valued recreation upgrades and enhancements.
As the Council chair of the Parks, Recreation and Culture portfolio, we are proud of the work completed at this site and others as MP Kim Rudd spoke to. These contributions aid the Department of Parks, Recreation and Cuture in providing quality parks, facilities and opportunities for all ages and abilities. We thank the Federal Government for their contribution towards these infrastructure upgrades through the Canada 150 Community Infrastructure Program.
We have reached numerous compliments from residents and visitors with respect to these improvements. The community is certainly appreciative as these projects directly impact our quality of life, health and community pride.
The connection to today’s event is especially important as we have the opportunity to dedicate the two Town Park ball diamonds and celebrate notable members of the Port Hope community. Volunteerism in our community is essential in delivering quality recreation opportunities. Individuals like Ted Watts Sr. and Gord and Hazel Isaac unselfishly dedicate countless hours for the betterment of all.
Ted Watts Sr. was a local sport enthusiast who spent a great deal of time in this very park. Family and friends will share stories about how he worked to maintain the grounds, care for and encourage children to participate in sport. He was a leader in developing a structure to support youth sport programs. He was a true advocate for sport and recreation.
Gord and Hazel Isaac share the same values as Ted Watts Sr. They opened their home to support activities and spent many hours as caretakers of the park for a number of years. They were early providers of a summer program that continues to be offered to this day. Gord and Hazel were devoted community leaders and took a great deal of pride in ensuring that one of Port Hope’s premier parks was maintained to a very high standard.
These community-minded individuals have made a long standing contribution to Port Hope. Family and friends are here today and have come from as far away as British Columbia, and this is testament to their legacy. On behalf of Council, thank you to everyone who has attended today and we encourage each of you to explore the beauty of Port Hope and the multitude of recreational opportunities.
One of the son’s of Ted Watts Sr. spoke during the dedication for his father.
I would like to thank friends and family for joining us here today as we dedicate the ball diamond in the name of Ted Watts Sr.
I would like to congratulate the members of the Isaac family for their dedication of the Gord and Hazel Isaac ball diamond. As a young ball player, I can remember the work they did caring and looking after the ball park washrooms, locking and unlocking the gates and keeping the park in pristine condition.
I would like to thank Ron Hyatt, Dave Watts and Alicia Davidson for their recommendation and application for this honour.
At this time, we would also like to thank, Julia Snoek, Jim McCormack and members of the Parks, Recreation and Culture as well as the mayor and town council, all of this would not be possible without their support. The upgrades to the diamond look great.
As we stand here today to honour our father, grandfather and good friend, we all can reflect on the times that he and his wife Jean spent here. Whether it was the time he spent working on the diamond as team manager or as a spectator. He would say none of this would be possible without the support of his wife and I know he shares this honour with her.
I can recall every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday night dad would park his big Buick behind the back stop so mom could stay warm on those chilly evenings, even if it meant getting dents in his car from foul balls and I’m sure his kids contributed to a few of those dents. It is fitting that his dedication sign is where it is today, behind the backstop at home plate.
I know if dad were here today he would want to thank a lot of peopple who helped him along the way and encouraged him to follow his dreams.
There are a few family members who are no longer with us today, but I know that Dad, Mom, Brother Ted and his wife Bev and brother-in-law Rick are with us in celebration of this great honour.
Dad loved his community and the people that live in it. He was very proud to be a Port Hoper.
As dad use to say, “if you keep your kids in sports, you keep them out of trouble.”
This is something he not only believed in with his own children, but with all the children in the community.
Once again, thank you for this dedication.