The City of Trail is commemorating the 25th anniversary of the 1995 Babe Ruth World Series at Butler Park – the one and only time the event has been played in Canada.
“It’s hard to believe it has been a quarter century since the biggest outdoor event in Trail history,” said Trail’s Brian Pipes.
And when it comes to history, no one is better at recognizing and celebrating Trail’s historic accomplishments than Sara Benson-Lord, curator of the Trail Museum and Archives at the Riverfront Centre.
“Our front window is a perfect space to honour this event,” said Benson-Lord. “What’s great about an anniversary like this is that it’s within recent memory and the people that made it happen can reconnect to share stories, reminisce and feel proud of what they accomplished.”
This week, Benson-Lord invited members of the Babe Ruth executive and player D. J. Ashman for the unveiling of the ’95 Babe Ruth World Series display that will run to Aug. 29.
“We like to honour historical anniversaries and our collection supported the exhibit, with the loan of some key pieces, like D. J. Ashman’s uniform and personalized mementos from the committee.”
Trail’s Babe Ruth executive committee consisted of president Doug Stanley, and directors Dan Ashman, Brian Pipes, and Eleanor Gattafoni Robinson; each possess their own unique skills, and all contributed countless hours and resources in organizing, pitching and landing the Babe Ruth World Series in Canada. The event ran in Trail from Aug. 19 to 26, 1995.
“We all had our jobs to do, we were all picked for a certain reason,” said Pipes. “Doug was the banker, he could pick up the phone and get something done right now. I was picked because of my relationship with Babe Ruth Baseball and being able to talk to people, Eleanor the same thing, she was a tournament director, and personality wise she was right out there.
“But Dan was the guy who pushed, like a little dog with a bone he wouldn’t let it go, and nothing was too big. He wouldn’t take no for an answer from anybody.”
Gattafoni Robinson wore her ’95 Babe Ruth World Series shirt to the unveiling and recalled the event fondly.
“Where does the time go?” she wondered. “But the memories are still in focus and there are still beautiful things that you’ll always remember. It was, ‘Build it and they will come’, and we did that, we did that with a lot of volunteers and a lot of beautiful people and we appreciate that.”
For the Trail’s head of archives, meeting with the members of the executive committee gave her a greater appreciation of the community’s efforts.
“It was such a monumental event,” said Benson-Lord. “I was a teenager when this event occurred and it wasn’t until my conversations with Brian, Doug, Dan and Eleanor that I truly grasped the magnitude of what Trail accomplished. It’s yet another testament to the true volunteerism of this community and a prime example of our moniker, Home of Champions.”
One of the most crucial points of the process came during the Babe Ruth World Series Task Force site inspection in July ’93. Babe Ruth president and CEO Ron Tellefson led the inspection, which would make or break Trail’s bid for the Series.
For Ashman, that visit sealed it for Trail.
“He (Tellefson) knew we had a baseball background, he knew there had never been a World Series held outside the continental United States, but there was an appetite to hold one.
“I think the difference was two things, one when he came here and visited the city, he saw the passion of the people on the committee, the people on the sub-committee, we had it all organized like we do in Trail. The other thing is he saw the pride in the homes and pride in the community.”
In October ’93 Babe Ruth Inc. announced that Trail’s bid was successful and the Silver City would become the first Canadian city to host the Babe Ruth World Series.
In the first two days of the event, over 24,000 people went through the gate at Butler Park, with crowds of over 7,000 spilling into the Trail Jays matches. In the end 118,000 fans attended, setting records for Babe Ruth 16-18 World Series that still stand.
Trail’s Babe Ruth World Series committee couldn’t have been more pleased, recognizing it was the response of the community that made the difference.
“If it wasn’t for the community, if it wasn’t for the city and all the volunteers, it wouldn’t have happened,” added Gattafoni Robinson. “It was five years in the making. We were the first Canadian town to have it, and when you have 6,000 to 8,000 fans in the stands, that’s pretty historical.”