Minor Baseball Looking for Lots of Hits - Daily Gleaner

With registration closed for this year -- there are some 500 players signed up -- the goal is to create online registration procedures in time for 2011.

There are also links to the San Diego Padres page -- that's where Matt Stairs, a product of Fredericton minor baseball is playing this year -- as well as the Fredericton Peterbilt DQ Royals senior team.

The Matt Stairs Celebration of Success evening, toasting Stairs' career and his status as a World Series champion with the 2008 Philadelphia Phillies -- you'll remember he hit a crucial home run against Los Angeles Dodgers reliever Jonathan Broxton in the National League Championship Series that year to keep the march to a championship on course -- raised some $4,300 through ticket sales and the sale of a commemorative t-shirt which helped subsidize the first year of a new helmet program in the Fredericton minor baseball association.

Whereas in previous years, each team in the association was provided with six batting helmets, individual players must supply their own. That initiative will begin next year though, since every player who registered will be supplied with their helmet this season, thanks to donations from the Nashwaaksis Y's Men and the proceeds from the Celebration of Success.

"It will be kind of a keepsake helmet," said Hornibrook. "Every kid, from this year forward, will have to supply his own helmet, cleats and ball glove. It's a health issue"¦there were a couple of issues of head lice through the year, helmets get cracked or whatever. It's like hockey gear"¦you supply your own gear." Helmets cost between $9-12. Some 500 will be supplied this year.

Hornibrook is in charge of fund raising for the association. He and the city of Fredericton and the association hit a home run with the Celebration of Success, acknowledging Stairs' contribution to the Phillies success and his long major league career by naming the road in front of Royals Field "Matt Stairs Way.-I just kept telling Tony Hay (assistant director of recreation for the city) "We've got to put this together"¦not only is Matt a major league player, but he's a major league player who won the ultimate prize.'" Hay, of course, knew that as well as anybody. He's a Phillies fan.

Stairs is also renowned as one of the "good guys" in the game, a solid veteran presence on the bench, which is his role with the young Padres this season.

Stairs and Hornibrook were teammates at the intermediate and senior baseball levels and with the national youth baseball team in the late 1980s before Stairs went to the National Baseball Institute in Vancouver and was ultimately signed by the Montreal Expos.

That was a dozen teams and 18 major league seasons ago.

"This is his home," said Hornibrook, who still maintains a friendship with Stairs. "He's never declined the fact that this is his home. My motivation is not about hanging out and having a few beers with him. It's about honouring a guy who deserves it." Hornibrook is involved with the board as the director of peewee competitive ball in addition to his role as director at large in charge of fund raising for the association. He'll also be coaching this year, working at the peewee AA level this season with Bob Eckstein.

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