Friends of Western ballplayers

Local group, mayor honour champions

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Two years of dominance by Western’s baseball team were recognized by the City of London this week.

Manager Mike Lumley and team members were honoured by Mayor Anne Marie DeCicco-Best at a city council chambers meeting this week. Friends of Labatt Park, an organization committed to promoting the historical significance of the Mustangs’ home ballpark, also attended.

“The City appreciated that the Mustangs have won the [Ontario University Athletics] championship two years in a row, and that Lumley was awarded with [OUA] Coach of the Year,” said Friends of Labatt Park member Steven Harding.

The team was pleasantly surprised with the recognition.

“It felt great, it was very unexpected,” said starting pitcher Ryan Butkowsky. “I think for the team to get that sort of attention from the city " and from such important people in the city " it’s a very high achievement.”

In addition to securing consecutive OUA crowns, the team has been littered with OUA all-stars and is led by a very qualified bench boss.

“Mike Lumley " he was a pitcher in the Detroit Tigers’ farm system,” said Barry Wells, founder of Friends of Labatt Park. “He played on a scholarship in the United States and he’s been involved in local baseball all his life. He was a real outstanding pitcher, so [the team] has a really great manager, and they’ve been putting out a very good team.”

The team has enjoyed a significant upgrade in playing facilities this season, as they moved their home park to Labatt Memorial rather than the remote City Wide Park.

“We’re overjoyed to see the Mustangs playing at Labatt Park now,” Wells said. “The park used to close in September, and now the Mustangs play there another two months " that’s a bonus.

“And it’s good quality baseball; I’ve been watching the team for the past two seasons. Top-drawer stuff.”

Butkowsky thinks Western’s recent success supplements a strong development program in the city.

“The whole [minor league baseball] system in London is great,” he said. “I think we’re just adding to that in the fall.”

Labatt Park has been open since 1877, and the members of Friends of Labatt Park try to increase the awareness of the world’s oldest baseball grounds. The organization is happy to join the City of London in recognizing Western’s athletes.

“It’s nice to be associated with excellence,” Harding said. “The Mustangs’ baseball team is certainly an excellent program.”

Share this article on:

Facebook | DiggDigg |

Copyright © 2008 The Gazette