Labatt Park celebrates 140 years at the forks of the Thames

Labatt Memorial Park is marking the 140th anniversary since the first pitch was thrown from home plate.

Originally named Tecumseh Park, the baseball stadium near the forks of the Thames River is the world’s oldest continually operating baseball grounds, opening on May 3, 1877.

READ MORE: Canada’s Baseball Hall Of Fame class of 2017

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“There were things that were different then. The outfield fences weren’t there, that’s where the buggies parked,” said Santry.

“People sat out there and watched the game, and that sort of formed the line for the fence.”

Today, the baseball stadium seats 5,200 fans.

“In 1877, London was in the International Association and it was baseball’s first minor league,” said baseball historian Joe Santry.

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“The International Association had better players than the National League at the time, more hall-of-famers.”

The first game ever played on the field was between the London Tecumsehs and its junior team, the London Atlantics. The Tecumsehs won 5-1 in front of a crowd of about 1,000 fans.

The grandstands have been replaced three times since then, the first time due to the flood of 1883.

“For 40 years it didn’t have a team in the park. Usually, when that happens, the neighbourhood tears down the park and they build houses, but the park has stayed,” said Santry.

The longest running team that has called the stadium home is the London Majors, which was formed in 1925.

The baseball stadium was renamed the John Labatt Memorial Athletic Park on Dec. 31, 1936, after a $10,000 donation from the brewing company to renovate the park and turn over the deed to the City of London.

On May 30, 1994, the park was designated a historic site by the council of the day, following a lobbying effort by the group Friends of Labatt Park.

The London Majors’ home-opener is on Friday, May 12, 2017 against the Burlington Herd, first pitch is set for 7:35 p.m.

Special weather statement issued for GTA, southern Ontario due to rain on Thursday

The Greater Toronto Area, including southern Ontario, are under a special weather statement for rain which will return to the region on Thursday.

Environment Canada has issued a special weather statement as rainfall amounts may reach 50 millimetres in some areas before it tapers to showers on the weekend.

The national weather agency said there may be potential for some local flooding and residents are being urged to be mindful of rising water levels near lakes and streams.

READ MORE: Flood fears renewed as Bowmanville residents brace for more wet weather this week

Global News meteorologist Anthony Farnell said Wednesday will be the best day of the week with overcast skies and sunny breaks. But the rain, wind and cold will make its way back on Thursday and well into the weekend.

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The Toronto and Region Conservation Authority has also raised its watershed conditions statement for water safety.

The public is being reminded to exercise caution around all bodies of water including the shoreline.

Residents living along Lake Ontario have been experiencing high water levels in recent weeks due to the rainfall in April.

READ MORE: Toronto conservation officials keeping close eye on rising water levels near Lake Ontario

Several homes near the Cedar Crest Beach area in Bowmanville have been dealing with basement flooding.

Clarington Emergency and Fire Services, along with city officials and homeowners, were out this past weekend helping to fill sand bags to protect properties in the area.

In Toronto, Ashbridges Bay Beach is undergoing some repairs following a series of damaging spring rainstorms that ravaged the coastline.

City crews have been grooming the sections affected by the excess water in recent days to make sure the area is safe for the public to use.

High Lake Ontario water levels leave Bowmanville homes flooded along shoreline


High Lake Ontario water levels leave Bowmanville homes flooded along shoreline


Flooding a concern as Lake Ontario records higher water levels