Burnaby's Over-30 boys of summer are back

The smell of peanuts, hot dogs and sounds of bats squaring up on the ball signal a new season.
While members of the Burnaby Pirates and Burnaby Blue Jays may not grilling for lunch, they launch the baseball season this weekend looking to tag up and beat the throw in a new season of Over-30 baseball.
The Blue Jays, finalists in their first four years including a pair of league titles and who stood second overall with a 12-4 record last season, would love nothing more than to keep the string alive.
Burnaby native Rod Van Dorn Sr. isn’t counting his runs without the at bats, though.
“We have been a team to beat in the past but this is a new season. Every season brings new challenges,” says the manager. “We won before with pitching and hitting. When you have that, it’s a pretty deadly combination.”
The Blue Jays are going through some transition, due to an unfortunate injury to a key player and a few others who are unable to make the weekly commitment. It means getting to the title match – which saw the squad fall 6-0 to the Howe Sound Hounds – is going to require a little diamond magic.
“We should be alright because our pitching is intact (from last year),” said Van Dorn. “But it’s going to be an interesting year, with two new teams (Aldergrove and Chilliwack) joining from the Over-18 league.”
That top-three rotation has a pair of steady righthanders in Jeff Ammer and Jeff Weisgerber and lefthander Rod Van Dorn Jr.
One of the clutch bats expected to continue driving in the runs is Marc Noble.
“He’s got a good stick with lots of power,” said the manager. “Marc’s played semi-pro and he’s been around baseball a long time.”
When the lineup is short, Van Dorn Sr. will dust off his glove and haul it out to the outfield “if we’re desperate,” he noted.
Taking the field with his two sons -- his youngest son Shaun plies the outfield -- is pretty neat, Van Dorn admits.
“It’s as good as it gets.”
Sharing the Robert Burnaby Park diamond as home turf is the upstart Burnaby Pirates, who’ve actually been in the league a lot longer.
Led by manager Kevin Gordon, the Pirates would like nothing more than to challenge the Jays for local bragging rights.
“We want to be in the thick of it,” said Gordon, who also gets the chance to play with his son, Adam, when he’s not handling the coaching duties. “Last year we struggled quite abit and transitioned some players from Over-30 to Over-45… We’ve added a few new players who should help us get to that competitive level.”
While Van Dorn is downplaying his team’s chances of staying among the elite, Gordon still sees them as a heavyhitter in a league of 10 teams.
“(The Blue Jays) are a very good team and we’ve been chasing them ever since they came into the league,” said Gordon. “For us, a top-four spot is a good goal so you go into the playoffs with some confidence.”
Having grown up in Alberta, Gordon said the game’s charm keeps him coming back even as he passes the mid-50s mark. He also plays in the Over-45 league, but will contribute to the Pirates on-field when called upon, but labels his role then as “I pitch and catch or get the hell out of the way.”
“You watch the old film Field of Dreams and that’s what I use to do with my dad,” he recalls. “You’d go out and just throw the ball around. It’s a lot of fun and a thrill just to do it with my son.”
The Blue Jays launch the new season on Sunday, 9 a.m. at Robert Burnaby Park against the Surrey Sentinels, while the Pirates play the New Westminster Mariners, 10 a.m. at Queen’s Park Stadium.

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