Winston Standup is a life-long baseball fan, but there weren’t any regulation-sized diamonds in Kahnawake when he was growing up.
“If we did play baseball, we would get a bunch of guys in place, get a field and just play there,” he said. “You’d have to improvise.”
Now the Mohawk community, located just southwest of Montreal, has a brand-new place to play ball and Standup threw the first pitch during a minor league game that inaugurated the field on Friday.
It was his first overhand throw in some 15 years.
The new diamond was made possible thanks to an $80,000 grant from the Toronto Blue Jays, contributed to the community through its Field of Dreams grant.
The Jays Care Foundation — which aims to create lasting social change for children and youth — donated the regulation-sized diamond to the Kanawake Sports Complex.
“More kids will be able to play,” said Robert Witchel, executive director of the foundation.
“They’ll be able to host more games here, instead of playing at the opposing ballparks, where they’d have to travel to.”
The Kahnawake Warhawks teams will use the field. Among them is Standup’s grandson. Standup says the community could have produced major league players back in his day if it had a proper field to play on.
Now that there is one, he said, local players can develop their talent and maybe someday play professionally.
“If we had something like this back then, there might have been some guys going to the major league,” he said, noting the lack of indigenous players on professional rosters in the United States and Canada.
“Some kids, right now that I see here, have the opportunity to make it if they keep going and playing.”