What would you say to the opportunity to walk across the same baseball field as some of the game’s greats – like Ty Cobb, Satchel Paige and George “Mooney” Gibson? How about bringing your glove along and playing catch on the same diamond as Hall of Famers Fergie Jenkins, Jeff Bagwell and Jim Thome?
Now, what if we told you all this is possible right here in the picturesque city of London, Ontario – at the majestic and hallowed confines of Labatt Park? Spoiler alert: The answer to all the questions above is YES.
Opened in 1877 and earning the distinction of being the world’s oldest continually operating baseball grounds, Labatt Park is now offering tours and is one of three locations that make up the Southwestern Ontario Baseball Heritage Pass. Now for only $5, baseball fans (and history buffs alike) have the opportunity to experience the magic of the historic ballpark and learn about its past – the teams who’ve called it home, and the baseball legends who’ve taken the field.
The Labatt Park Tour takes you on an hour-long trip through the eyes of some of the game’s greats from around the world. You’ll learn everything from what Labatt Park was before the first pitch was thrown in 1877; details of the great flood (or, should we say, floods); and even some interesting details about the park’s unofficial winged mascot. Let’s just say you should take a glare skyward at the third-base line light standard when you’re on the tour.
During the guided journey, you’ll visit the grandstand, the bleachers, the dugouts, the press box and the original Roy McKay Clubhouse (built in 1937), one of the gems of the stadium that will take you on a trip back in time – with the help of artifacts and displays that help tell the story of the historic ballpark.
Oh, and don’t forget to bring your glove, because you’ll have the opportunity to ‘have a catch,’ Field-of-Dreams-style, with a family member, a friend or a significant other. It’ll be a memory you’ll take with you forever – the chance to play on the very field that baseball legends once played on.
You’ll be continually amazed to learn of some of the top players who’ve swung the bat at Labatt Park; how London embraced diversity and welcomed players of all colours (more than a decade before Major League Baseball saw Jackie Robinson break the colour barrier); and the handful of teams who have brought championships to the Forest City.
Were you aware the London Majors, the main tenants of Labatt Park, had a variety of names over the last century? Do you even know the reason why they’re now called the Majors? What about the most accomplished team? The 1948 club comes to mind … Or can you name some of the most historic games ever played at the site?
You’ll have to find answers to these questions yourself during Labatt Park’s tidbit-filled tour that will keep you saying, “I didn't know that.”
Just like you’re not supposed to talk about a no-hitter as it’s happening, we don't want to jinx the fun. See you at the ballpark!
To book your tour or for more information, visit www.labattparktours.com.
This article was produced by Gameday London. You can visit them at www.gamedaylondon.com.