A young Cowichan Valley baseball player who died a year ago was honoured last week with a sandlot game at Evans Park.
Avery Oye was just 11 years old when he died in July 2021 after he was hit by a truck while riding his bike. When he died, Oye was a member of the U11 AA Duncan Dodgers, who went on to win a silver medal at the regional championships last August.
Many of the U11 players who took part in the sandlot game last Thursday wore tie-dyed T-shirts they made last year in Oye’s memory. A unique new bench was unveiled at the field that hosted the game, Kelly Nugent Field, built specially by the father of Jesse Davis, who was Oye’s coach last year.
Oye’s dad, Kiyo, drove to Duncan from Tofino for the game, making his first visit to the Cowichan Valley since the family moved away last fall. His mom, Sarah, had to stay home with the family’s new baby.
The game was not all sombre, as it was followed up with a water-balloon fight.
Gord Closson and Bill Flynn were in attendance from the Gord Closson Oldtimers Fall Classic softball tournament. It was Flynn who suggested donating money from the tournament — which has provided countless thousands of dollars of support for families in the Cowichan Valley over several decades — to the Duncan Junior Baseball Association for a memorial tree and plaque at the Evans Park ballfields.
The Closson Classic was going to take this year off as key organizer Joe DiLalla recovers from a kidney transplant, but it will go ahead after all at Waldon Park on Aug. 12-15, with a smaller-than-usual field of four ortho and four fastpitch teams. The tournament will include a silent auction and beer garden, and the traditional vehicle raffle is pending. Waldon Park T-shirts will also be sold at the event. Organizers are looking for umpires. Anyone willing to help out should contact Closson at 250-510-2010.