Could anything go together better than summer and baseball in Burlington? If you ask some residents, they’ll tell you “no way!” But others will scratch their heads asking, “there’s professional baseball in Burlington?”
It’s true, there is! I often talk about Burlington’s best-kept secrets and the Burlington Bandits is one of them.
Mr Burlington was invited to come by to check out one of their home games and to throw the first pitch. What an honour!
This team, formerly known as the Burlington Twins, is part of the Intercounty Baseball League (IBL).
Now closing in on 100 years old, the IBL was founded in 1919 with just four teams—Galt, Guelph, Stratford and Kitchener—and is older than the NFL, NBA or OHL. How’s that for summer tradition?
Today, the Inter County remains Ontario’s premier senior baseball League. Many outstanding former pro players play in the League, along with some of the best graduating juniors from across Ontario. Some teams also carry a couple of American
The team’s home is at Nelson Park, one of the largest parks in Burlington. The ballpark features a fully licensed bar and some of the best concession items in the IBL.
In 2013, home games were typically played twice a week from May through July. With August here, the playoffs are now underway! I’m including the home playoff schedule at the end of this post.
We arrived to a 7pm Thursday game against the Toronto Maple Leafs just in time for the singing of O Canada.
It was time to toss the ceremonial first pitch and I let my son throw the ball. He was sky high with excitement!
The catcher let him keep the ball he threw and he walked off the field beaming with pride. That baseball is now displayed proudly on his dresser along with other treasures of childhood.
Wasting no time, the game
got underway and the pitcher took to the mound.
Wanting to learn more about the players, we flipped through the gorgeous, glossy free program — “the best in the league,” I was told proudly.
The Bandits also sell fantastic printed apparel featuring their logo. One of the team owners is Scott Robinson, a Burlington entrepreneur with six businesses in town. His Compass Media Group provides the programs and his Impact Clothing provides the shirts.
The Burlington Bandits have many fans! Four sets of bleachers were filled with spectators with many more people bringing their own chairs to sit along the baseline.
Even the neighbours get in the spirit. A family who’s backyard looks onto the ballpark hand-lettered a large sign that serves to cheer the team on all summer long.
After a few innings, we made our way over to the concession stand for a jumbo Nathan’s hot dog — the best I’ve ever had!
Little brother wanted both a bite and the ball.
Other kids were playing catch nearby. It’s always a pleasure seeing kids enjoying summer and being active.
In between innings are often promotional giveaways. After the third inning, Director of Sales and Marketing, Ryan Harrison, tossed frisbees into the stands with some having gift certificates to local businesses attached.
By the fourth inning, the Burlington Bandits were in the lead and the crowd was pumped!
At the end of the fourth, all the kids were invited to run the bases. This is a feature of every game and the players, parents and spectators all love the chance to cheer the kids on.
The bat boy gets to run the bases every game so it’s no surprise that he takes the lead and is the first to cross home plate.
Going into the fifth inning, the Bandits had the lead with 4 runs against Toronto’s 1. But Toronto came blazing back scoring five runs in the inning.
Burlington scored another run in the eighth and prevented Toronto from scoring further for most of the second half. Going into the ninth, the Bandits needed just one more run to tie. But scores in baseball can quickly take a dramatic turn. The Maple Leafs hit it out of the park bringing in five runs in the last inning! The final score to a game that had been pretty close until the end: 12-5 for Toronto.
Summer memories are made of nights like this. A great game, a few souvenirs and a new friend.
The first round of playoffs for the Burlington Bandits is happening now. As in today! The Bandits play the London Majors in a best-of-seven series with these home games scheduled at Nelson Park:
- Sat, Aug 10 at 1:00 pm
- Thu, Aug 15 at 7:35 pm
- Sat, Aug 17 at 1:00 pm
The Bandits have nabbed the hearts of many in our city but could use your support too. With big ambitions for expanded facilities at Nelson Park, every fan helps further cement baseball in our city and ensures this timeless tradition of summer lives on to be enjoyed by another generation.