Young baseball players from across Newfoundland and Labrador took to fields around St. John’s this weekend for the fourth annual Mike Buist Classic.
The tournament is a namesake to the former executive director of the minor baseball association, who died in 2019.
Kristyn Coley, executive director of the St. John’s Minor Baseball Association, said that this is the tournament’s biggest year yet.
About 110 games were spread out over 12 ball diamonds in the St. John’s area, with 52 teams taking part.
“Mike was my former boss and a great friend and a great mentor,” Coley said.
Who was Mike Buist?
Originally from Hamilton, Ontario, Buist had an interesting career and ultimately wound up in Newfoundland and Labrador.
He signed his first professional contract in 1963 at the age of 16. Buist then spent the next four years playing in the New York Mets and St. Louis Cardinals minor league systems.
He was also a statistician with the Toronto Blue Jays.
“And then as he got older,” Coley said, “he moved to Newfoundland and he started off some baseball here … and then eventually when he retired, he came back to St. John’s Minor Baseball and was our executive director and basically brought on a lot of different programming for us.”
“Big increases in our winter ball program, a lot of our all-star programs, as well as the female programs,” she said.
Buist was awarded the Les Noseworthy Award by Baseball N.L. in 2019 for his contributions to the province’s baseball community and St. John’s Amateur Baseball awarded him with the Fong Dowden Award.
He was elected to the Baseball N.L. Hall of Fame that same year.
“Mike was an excellent mentor for me personally and I think he added so much to our community,” Coley said. “So, to be able to honour him with this event has been something very special for us.”
“It’s really important to us to continue his legacy and to keep building baseball programs in the metro region.”
At a semifinal game in the 13 UC division — Paradise versus St. John’s — were friends Reid Dinham, 13, and Cody Neary, 12.
They play on the same team, grew up on the same street, and have both been playing baseball for nine years.
And if that’s not enough, both of them said their favourite part of baseball is stepping up to the plate and hitting.
“Home runs,” Reid said.
Neary was in agreement, “because when you get on base, it’s fun and you can steal. And hitting home runs is fun.”
But according to Reid, the best part about participating in tournaments like the Mike Buist Classic is the comradery.
“It’s just fun being around my friends, teammates … and making new friends here,” he said.
Coley said, “All the teams have been great, staff have been great, so it’s been an awesome weekend.”
The championship games will be played Sunday night in St. John’s.
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