Some of the Semiahmoo Peninsula’s youngest ballplayers will hit the field this weekend in honour of a man who through the years became synonymous with local Mini-8 baseball.
Running from Friday until Sunday evening, White Rock-South Surrey Baseball Association with host the Henri Lorieau Memorial Tournament at Centennial Park (14600 North Bluff Rd.).
The tournament is for eight-year-old players, and will feature eight teams; in addition to a pair of White Rock squads, other teams include Whalley, Abbotsford, New Westminster, Coquitlam, Langley and Mount Seymour (North Vancouver).
Lorieau was the president of WRSSBA from 1998 until 2005, and for years was “the face” of the association’s annual Mini-8 tournament, said John Hogg, one of the tournament’s current organizers and a former WRSSBA president himself.
At the tournament each year, Lorieau – wearing his trademark Hawaiian shirt – could be seen sitting above the concession stands, serving as scorekeeper, DJ, and announcer; in the latter role, he was known to bestow nicknames on all the players as they came up to bat.
For the young players, Lorieau’s enthusiasm made the event “the highlight of their baseball lives,” a news release from WRSSBA said.
Lorieau passed away last November at 62.
As his obituary noted – and as Hogg reiterated to Peace Arch News earlier this week – the longtime association volunteer and accomplished musician “was blessed with what can only be described as the ‘happy gene.’”
“His influence and leadership in the local and neighbouring baseball communities has been long-lasting, and is missed,” Hogg said.
This weekend’s tournament begins at 9 a.m. Friday, with both White Rock teams in action. White Rock-Black will square off against Whalley on one diamond, while White Rock-White will hit the field against Coquitlam at the same time.
Lorieau’s legacy will be honoured throughout the weekend, and his wife, Julie, will throw out the ceremonial first pitch.
The gold-medal game is set for 5:45 p.m. on Sunday.
In addition to the games, skills competitions will also be held for players, led by White Rock Tritons general manager Marty Lehn.
Tritons players will also be involved in the weekend, doing some of the umpiring for the youngsters.