Even though it was cold outside, the Sarto-Desnoyers Community Centre was filled with warmth and generosity on Sunday, as members of Dorval Baseball gathered for their final end-of-year party.
After six years bringing free community baseball to kids in Dorval and beyond, DB Baseball founder Christopher Chartier is stepping down due to a diagnosis of esophageal cancer he received in February, that has left him without the energy to continue coaching.
“It’s uncommon for someone to do what he does, and make opportunities for the disadvantaged,” said Bill Young, a co-author on several baseball books who has supported DB Baseball over the last few years.
At its core, the group aims to make baseball accessible to anyone, no matter their social standing, physical or mental ability. Since its inception, DB Baseball has welcomed over 100 families and played more than 300 games.
Sticks and rocks
Years ago, Chartier saw kids playing baseball in a park using sticks and rocks because they had no other equipment. He decided to do something, and the next year, DB Baseball was born.
In the beginning they played with equipment that Chartier bought out of his own pocket. As the initiative grew, more bats and gloves were donated, equipment that the coach let the kids keep, over time, so that “every kid has a glove.”
They go on group excursions to baseball games in Vermont and elsewhere through donated tickets, and Chartier makes sure all the kids get a snack at the stadium. At DB parties there is always baseball memorabilia for the kids to take home.
“It’s about having fun,” Chartier said, decked out in his Gary Carter jersey and Expos baseball cap at the year-end pizza party. « Sometimes they play games, sometimes just practice, but the point is to get kids out of the house and outdoors, not to compete. »
Growing up with juvenile arthritis that made it difficult to participate athletically, Chartier wanted to create a judgment-free zone for children to learn to play ball.
“What he does is really amazing,” said Louise Carobene, whose son, David, plays with DB. “He’s always pushing for the community.”
Though no one has stepped forward to take over in the same capacity as Chartier, 15-year-olds Ryan and David will hold baseball training and all-around fun twice a month under the name David and Ryan’s Baseball. Chartier is going to take this time to rest, be with his family and of course, take in a couple of games when he can.