Brussels Tigers' 50th anniversary tournament begins tonight
BY DENNY SCOTT
The Brussels Tigers are ready to host the team’s annual Men’s Invitational Fastball Tournament, marking the event’s 50th anniversary.
Team representative Shawn Daw said the club is excited to be bringing the tournament back after COVID-19 resulted in its cancellation for two years, and he said that excitement must be felt by the teams involved as well. Within a month of announcing it, he said 10 of the 16 spots were filled, and now the tournament has 20 teams interested for the 16 spots available. “We’ve got teams hoping another team doesn’t make it,” he said.
The change is a good one, he said, after the tournament wasn’t held for the past two years, there was some concern about remounting it; however, it turns out those concerns were unfounded.
“This tournament has been one a lot of people enjoyed coming to due to the people in the community treating the players with respect and being kind,” he said. “We have a lot of returning teams every year.”
Aside from returning teams, there are new teams that have signed up from across the province, he said, surprising him and his fellow organizers.
“We’ve had Glencoe before, as well as Delaware, Tavistock, Fullarton, Kitchener and Sebringville,” he said. “Of course, it’s great to have Walton as they have supported the tournament for years. Monkton is in a similar situation.
New teams include Port Perry, Fingal, Dundalk and Rockwood, he said.
“The tournament has grown thanks to word-of-mouth,” he said. “Teams will play in it, have a great time then go back and tell other teams in their leagues about it.”
He said that, aside from how great the community is, the prize money also helps keep teams involved. Even the ‘D’ champions get $100, he said, while many other tournaments only have prizes for the ‘A’ and ‘B’ champions.
While its the 50th anniversary of the first tournament, it’s not really the 50th annual tournament, Daw said, explaining that not only had tournaments been missed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but other problems had resulted in cancellations in the past. The tournament used to be held on a long weekend, he said, but it proved problematic to find teams to play, resulting in the tournament being moved to the weekend before the Civic Holiday weekend. That led to a revitalization of the event, Daw said.
Another factor has been the support of the community, not just in the aforementioned kindness shown to the teams, but also in residents coming out to scorekeep, announce and run the beverage service.
“It alleviates a lot of pressure on the Tigers,” he said. “It makes sure we can play.”
The team then reciprocates with many of the volunteers, he said, like helping with Brussels Minor Baseball as a way to thank parents who volunteered for the tournament.
With the lifting of rules around masking and social distancing due to COVID-19, Daw said the tournament should be a great opportunity for people to be outside and get back to normal.
The first games start on Friday night at 7 p.m. with the Tigers taking on the Rockwood Rush at the Brussels Community Park and the Kitchener Selects taking on the Dundalk Smoke at the Ethel baseball diamond. A second Brussels team, the Brussels Bangers, is scheduled at 8:45 p.m. on Friday against the Sebringville Sting in Brussels, while Walton’s first game is 10:30 p.m. on Friday against the Delaware Highlanders. Watch The Citizen for results from the tournament.