Tourism London launches tours of Labatt Memorial Park in push to highlight region’s baseball history
IF YOU’VE EVER wanted to go behind the scenes at Labatt Memorial Park, London’s historic baseball diamond (and home to various teams over the years), then you’re in luck — for the first time this summer, visitors will be able to take an exclusive tour of the facility with the creation of the Southwestern Ontario Baseball Heritage Pass.
The pass will give visitors access to the diamond tour as well as other notable baseball attractions in the region, such as the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in St. Marys and the Beachville District Museum in Woodstock, where one of the first recorded baseball games was played. The tour of Labatt Memorial Park will highlight the nearly 150-year history of the world’s oldest baseball diamond.
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“Many people aren’t aware of the incredible history of Labatt Memorial Park, and we look forward to sharing these stories with Londoners and many others,” says Zanth Jarvis, director of sport tourism at Tourism London. “We believe this has the opportunity to become another key attraction for the city by providing a unique, memorable and educational experience.”
With the Southwestern Ontario Baseball Heritage Pass, Tourism London is hoping to turn the London region into a bit of a destination for baseball fans (think Cooperstown in the U.S.) by highlighting the often-discounted place London has in baseball history and the many storied names — Ty Cobb, Jesse Owens, Deion Sanders and more — who have passed through Labatt Memorial at one point or another. (It’s a history that’s also been officially overlooked at times, too; in 2007, Labatt Park had to fight the Guinness Book of World Records to recognize that it was, in fact, a year older than its closest American counterpart in Clinton, Massachusetts.)
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“Labatt Memorial Park is a gem in our city and we’re thrilled to be able to begin offering tours to showcase its incredible history,” says Jon-Paul McGonicgal, division manager in the culture, special events and sport services department at the City of London. “With our recently announced investment, as well as this additional programming, we’re excited for the future of Labatt Memorial Park and we look forward to continually welcoming guests for years to come.” Kieran Delamont