By Devin Jones
Talbot Park — a baseball field the Ryerson Rams have called home for the last two years — will be shut down and unusable for the rest of the season.
Originally built over top a swampy creek using construction fill — a combination of sand and gravel — Talbot Park has had underground leaks in the past, but the city of Toronto has always managed to fix them. Now, a mixture of rain and a larger leak stemming from the original creek has closed the park. While not an issue for the Leaside Baseball Association (LBA) — who use the park on a consistent basis and whose lease is up at the end of September — the waterlogged park will prove troublesome for the Rams.
“Everybody who’s ever played baseball in Toronto knows Talbot Park doesn’t drain well. But this particular issue goes beyond just the normal draining issue, there appears to be water emanating from a sewer grate on the third base side, ” said head coach Ben Rich. “It’s more or less flooded the foul area of that side, and has leaked on to the playing area. This is the first time we’ve ever had it like this.”
Due to the park being shut down, the Rams had to travel an hour out of the city, to Lambert Wilson field in the suburbs of Aurora to play its “home” opener on Sept. 13. This past Sunday, the Rams had to travel 114 k.m., to play back-to-back “home” games against the University of Laurier Goldenhawks at Bechtel Park, where they were defeated 15-5 and 10-3.
According to Rich, Ryerson Athletics has been made of aware of the situation, and the next scheduled home games against Western on Saturday Sept. 26 will be played at Stand Wadlow Park, in East York.
“We’re [athletics] monitoring the situation, and it’s something the team is aware of and unfortunately has to deal with for the time being,” said associate athletic director Stephanie White. “We’re hoping this isn’t going to be an ongoing issue, and we have our scheduled games at other parks.”
According to Rich, four out of the five scheduled home dates were to be played at Talbot Park this season. The baseball schedule — available on the Ryerson athletics website — has been changed to reflect the situation. Rich was adamant in saying that despite the home field being unusable for the rest of the season, the team is still focused on winning games, and not having Talbot Park available is no excuse to not be ready to play come game time.
For now, the Rams have no plans to find a replacement home field for the rest of the season, pushing the decision until the offseason. Rich says that once the season is over, the team will reevaluate the viability of Talbot Park as a useable home field. For the immediate future, Rich and the team are focused on improving week by week and making a push for the playoffs.
“We’re staying positive and maintaining the same approach we’ve always had. It’s understood we have to move past this, and not moan over the fact, ‘Well, oh, we should have been at Talbot today but now we have to drive to Laurier,’” said Rich. “Gut check time has come early for us, but at the end of the day we’re still playing baseball.”
The Rams have had limited practice at Talbot Park this past week, while avoiding the leaking sewage. You can catch their next home game Friday Oct. 9 against the University of Guelph storm at Dan Lang field with a start time of 12 p.m.