Twenty-five years ago, yet-to-be developed Willoughby was made up mostly of farmland, downtown Langley had parallel parking only, and a new kid emerged on the baseball block.
Back in 1991, fledgling North Langley Baseball, headed by its original president George Zarrelli, offered ball north of Highway One for the first time.
On Saturday at the George Zarrelli Majors Diamond, the association marked a quarter century of baseball during its opening ceremonies.
The association was founded a quarter century ago by Zarrelli and Ian McLean.
Since then, North Langley Baseball has hosted the 12-year-old provincials in 2000, 10-year-old provincials in 2010 and won the 10-year-old provincials in 1998.
Zarrelli and McLean were among the guests at Saturday’s ceremony.
When he took the mic, Zarrelli applauded the efforts of Kelly Parker, who has served as North Langley Baseball president for the past 11 years.
“Kelly… has gone through some difficult times and difficult decisions, and he’s made them, and baseball in North Langley has never been stronger,” Zarrelli said.
“I congratulate you, Kelly, and your executive for weathering the storm.”
For his part, Parker said one thing that hasn’t changed over the years is “North Langley’s spirit.”
He also thanked North Langley Baseball’s executive members and volunteers, past and present.
“Your dedication to this league has meant a lot to me,” Parker said.
The ceremony also unveiled the new moniker of North Langley Baseball teams – the Trappers, an homage to the fur trade in Fort Langley in the early-to-mid-19th century.
As well, recognition was given to the most successful team in North Langley Baseball history, its junior all star squad which in 2002 won the Canadian championship and represented the country at the Junior League Baseball World Series in Taylor, Michigan.
Invited guests included manager Lloyd Watt and a few members of that 2002 Canadian championship team, Township Mayor Jack Froese (who threw out the ceremonial first pitch), Township staff, and the founding members of executive of North Langley Baseball: Zarrelli, McLean, Bill O’Malley, past president Janice O’Malley, Chuck Abney, and Cathy Abney.
McLean is now the national coordinator for Challenger Baseball Canada and spoke about how much Challenger Baseball means to him, coaches, volunteers, and especially the players with cognitive and physical challenges.