In the home of Simcoe’s John and Florence MacDonald, baseball was far more than a game.
“It was a way of life for us,” explained Mary Jane MacDonald, one of the couple’s seven children. “My mom and dad wanted to make sure that any kids that wanted to be involved in ball had an opportunity to [play]. They worked at the grassroots level and did a lot of fundraising and it was not work, but it was fun and we all participated in various ways.”
The couple helped form the South Neighbourhood Club, which became the Simcoe Minor Baseball Association and also spawned generations of champions that continue to this day.
It is estimated that the coaching, volunteer work, and help provided by the MacDonalds—not to mention their children, grandchildren, etc.—has positively affected around 150 Simcoe-area squads.
Whatever the job—raising money, diamond maintenance, coaching, managing—the MacDonalds were in the middle of it all.
They enjoyed a lot of success, too.
Their son Doug has been involved with over 30 provincial championship teams as a player, coach, and volunteer, while son Scott was elected the Ontario Baseball Association “Coach of the Year” back in 2004.
The game was about far more than winning for John and Florence, though—much of their focus was on community growth.
“My dad had this very simple but very well-warranted philosophy,” Scott said. “His big thing was if kids were engaged at the ballpark and the arena, they wouldn’t have time to be getting into trouble . . . Winning was nice, but give me kids at the ball diamonds and out of trouble—that was a big thing for them.”