Minor baseball meant everything to Paul Sharpe.
The Springhill man, affectionately known as Gino, dedicated his life to teaching young people the game he loved so much and even as he fell ill with the disease that would eventually take his life he was thinking of baseball and getting back in the dugout.
Springhill Minor Baseball honoured Sharpe on the final day of the 13U AA Atlantic Baseball Championship Tournament when it renamed the Fencebusters Field the Paul ‘Gino’ Sharpe Memorial Field.
“It’s something we felt we had to do, Paul meant that much to so many young people in Springhill,” association president Adam Brown said. “A bunch of us got together when he died and said we had to do something to recognize him. He loved baseball and he shared that love with so many young baseball players, many of whom are still playing today because Gino introduced them to the game and taught them how to play.”
Sharpe, who died in May, was very involved in the development of the Fencebusters Field that now bears his name as well as another smaller field on Princess Street. Brown said he would’ve liked to have named that field in Sharpe’s honour because it was where he spent considerable time teaching t-ball and rookie baseball. However, he learned it was already named for someone else.
With the ceremony on Sept. 15, both fields are now named in honour of key contributors to minor baseball in Springhill. Several years ago, the bigger field – that’s used for baseball and slo-pitch, was named in honour of James ‘Pokey” Melanson and his wife Jewell.
“This sort of completes things,” Brown said. “Pokey and Gino were big contributors to minor baseball in our community. It’s fitting for them to have fields named after them and to have them next to each other.”
Sharpe’s widow, Sam Alick, is happy to see her late husband honoured.
“We’re thrilled and honoured,” Alick said. “I know Paul would be completely thrilled to have the field named after him. Both kids play ball and they’re proud the field is named after their dad.”
Alick said baseball meant everything to her husband and it’s why they’re a baseball family. Alick spent the entire weekend at the field as a pitch-counter for the Atlantic tournament while both son, Carter, and daughter, Julia, were at the field as well.
“Even before the kids played he was coaching and we lugged the kids around from ballfield to ballfield,” she said. “He loved his baseball.
Sharpe’s mother, Beverley, said it has been a rough year for the family after her husband, Alex (known as Bubbles) died last October and her son died in May, while she moved from the family home to a senior’s apartment. Another family member passed away in November.
She was there for the unveiling with her daughter, Gayle, and it represented a bright moment for her.
“In a year with a lot of negatives, this was a huge positive,” she said. “He was always on the go with baseball and he was always fighting to get that field fixed up.”
She’s also pleased to hear the Fencebusters Café in Springhill is going to recognize both Sharpe and Melanson.