T-Ball 9am - 12pm
Rookie 12pm - 2pm
Mosquito 2pm - 4pm
PeeWee 4pm - 6pm
Bantam 6pm - 8pm
Midget 8pm - 10pm
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NOTE: This article is from 2008, any dates below are associated with the 2008 Colman Day
By Sean Meyer - The Londoner (click here for the original article)
If you ask eight-year-old Kale Bilger why he plays baseball, the answer is pretty simple.
“I like baseball. I like sports. I like hitting the baseball, getting people out. In baseball you have a lot of fun,” Kale says.
Daryl Landuyt, president of the Eager Beaver Baseball Association, is hoping kids from across the city will be able to share Kale’s enthusiasm for the game during this Saturday’s annual Frank Colman Day. The day, which honours a Londoner who played six years in the major leagues, involves baseball players ranging from ages 6-23 taking part in six games – rookie, mosquito, peewee, bantam, midget and junior – at historic Labatt Park.
While Eager Beaver teams, as well as others, will be sending players to take part in the 25th anniversary edition of Frank Colman Day, Daryl is quick to point out the event shouldn’t be considered an all-star game.
“It’s a celebration of baseball in London. It’s been called an all-star game, but it’s for the kids who come out and try their best. It’s kind of a reward for them,” Daryl says. “It used to be just for Eager Beavers, but now it is opened up to players from other organizations who are being distinguished for trying hard and doing their best.”
The day starts off at 10 a.m. with the rookie league game and then continues with another game about every two hours.
While the day is open to the public and is free to kids who come out wearing their uniforms – and is just $2 otherwise – Daryl says the key to the festivities is letting the kids have fun. That fun, Daryl says, is only amplified by playing in one of the most historic baseball parks in the world.
“Labatt Park is the oldest baseball park in the world,” Daryl says. “It’s a gorgeous ballpark. This park is baseball in London. And as the first minor sports organization in London, it’s appropriate for us to honour baseball here.
“It really is a celebration. Snacks, barbecue, we have draw prizes. And for the younger kids, it is a chance to come out and run around the bases at this amazing park. It’s an experience none of them will forget.”
And speaking of things Daryl hopes the kids won’t forget, that applies to the man who the day is named in honour of as well.
“Frank Colman is London baseball. He started Eager Beaver and was extremely influential. The kids just come to play baseball, but I think it is important for them to know about Frank Colman,” Daryl says. “Schools don’t have the time to teach London history, so we want them to bring some of that back to the kids. Frank’s significance to baseball in London, to this park, to the London Majors and of course Eager Beaver baseball. I think it’s a good thing for the kids today to know a little of that history, so having the day named in honour of him I think means a lot.”
The organization Frank Colman helped start has seen the interest in baseball come and go over the years. In 1999, Daryl says, there were about 900 players in the Eager Beaver association. Today, there are about 450.
Still, Daryl says there are positives signs baseball continues to survive in London.
“The last three years the enrolment has gone up. I think seeing growth three years in a row is a good sign,” Daryl says. “I do think baseball is making a comeback. There are so many choices for kids today. Soccer, football are big, summer hockey is growing. So we have to get out there and promote the game. Our Little Sluggers program does that and focus on developing baseball skills. Focus on skills, but also on fun, is part of helping grow the game again.”
Eager Beaver has 18 house league teams and nine competitive level teams playing at all age groups, something Daryl says is unique. “We are still one of the biggest baseball associations in the city. We are one of the only who can say they have teams at every level, from rookie to midget. That’s a good thing.”
If Kale plays baseball because he loves the game and has fun doing so, Daryl says he works with Eager Beavers to make sure kids such as Kale keep having fun with a game he personally has always loved.
“I have always loved baseball. When I moved to London I started coaching, I joined the board, to help where I could. I want it to succeed and so the chance to work with the kids, it’s just such fun. To see the smiles on the faces of the kids and to make sure they can have the most fun possible, that’s why I stay involved.”
Another part of history will be honoured during Frank Colman Day as the Duchess of Kent Legion branch is going to be recognized for having sponsored Eager Beaver baseball each year since its beginning in 1955.
“They have been there as a sponsor since the beginning,” Daryl says. “So there will be a delegation here from the branch to be recognized. I think that is an important thing to recognize.”
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Who Was Frank Colman?
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For those of you who may not be familiar with the origins of the EBBA, the following is a brief summary of our history.
The league was formed in the spring of 1955 by a group of Londoners that included former major league players Gordon Berryhill, Frank Colman, and George ‘Mooney’ Gibson. The first season involved 300 players on 12 teams in the Peewee and Bantam divisions. To open the first season, the players paraded down Dundas Street to Labatt Park, where a number of exhibition games were held.
As the league grew, Rookie, Mosquito (Tyke), Midget, and Junior Divisions were added. A competitive program was also introduced with all competitive teams known as the Tecumsehs, in recognition of the nineteenth-century London men’s professional team that won a number of international baseball titles. The league was officially incorporated in 1979. In 1983, the annual all-star game was named Frank Colman Day, in recognition of Frank Colman, one of the founders of the league, who had died that year. This event is held at Labatt Park, and is a highlight of the season for players in each division, because they have been selected to play by their peers. Players get to see their names printed in the official program and their names announced before they take their at-bat – just like the big leagues!
The league operates as a member of the London District Baseball Association. We serve children and young people ages 7 to 21 living in east London. The league’s official boundaries are described later in this Handbook. Our competitive teams have had a very successful record over the years, at both the local level and at the Ontario Baseball Association’s annual provincial championships.
Enjoy this year’s baseball season!
He was JoeDiMaggio's teammate and Yogi Berra's friend, but ultimately, he became a quiet hometown hero to the kids in his hometown of London, Ontario.
Although he was a Yankee and was a major-leaguer for six seasons, Frank Colman's name is not part of Yankee legend. But generations of London kids have Colman to thank for their baseball beginnings.
Colman was inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame on July 2, primarily for his contribution to kids' baseball in London. After his playing career, he returned to his hometown and founded the Eager Beaver Baseball Association, which has endured for the past 45 years and now has 850 players.
Frank Colman died in 1983 at age 65. His son, Frank Colman Jr., accepted the hall of fame plaque at the ceremony in St. Mary's, with a large contingent of Colmans on hand.
"If he were here, I think he would say his greatest accomplishment has been his contribution to the community through the work with the Eager Beaver Baseball Association." his son said. "That was his real pride and joy. He really loved that kind of work."
Colman and Yogi Berra were teammates with the minor-league Newark Bears in 1946 and both were called up to the Yankees at the end of the season.
In 1947, Colman opened the season as the starting right fielder but suffered a leg injury early in the year and underwent season-ending surgery. That would be his last season in the big leagues.
He played for the Pirates from 1942 through part of 1946. His best season was 1944, when he hit .270 with six homers and 53 RBI in 99 games. His lifetime batting average was .228 in 271 games.
In a letter to the hall of fame, Berra wrote that he visited Colman at his home in Canada on several occasions.
"I've made a lot of friends in baseball through the years, but I'll always remember Frank as one of the most decent and genuine people that I ever met," Berra wrote. "I was proud that he was my friend."
Colman played five years in the minors before retiring from pro ball. After he returned to London, he was owner and player-manager of the London Majors in the Intercounty League, then devoted much of his time and energy to building the Eager Beaver association.
Article from True North
See this article, along with Frank Colman's stats at SportsPic.com