Varjassy to be inducted into baseball hall of fame
by Phil Ambroziak
A lifetime of commitment to the sport of baseball has paid off for Meadow Lake resident Gerry Varjassy and his family.
Recently, Saskatchewan Baseball announced the Varjassy family – including Gerry and brothers Bob, Fred, Don, Ed and cousin Allan – would be inducted into the Saskatchewan Baseball Hall of Fame as part of its Class of 2014.
“My mother contacted us back in the fall to tell us she’d received a letter from Saskatchewan Baseball saying the family was going to be inducted into the hall of fame, so I’ve known about it for some time now,” Varjassy explained. “As for how I feel about it, all I can say is it’s a privilege.”
The Varjassy family has contributed greatly to the sport for many years. All members were actively involved with minor baseball during their youth while several of Varjassy’s brothers remain involved as members of the Kipling Knights baseball team in their hometown of Kipling, SK.
“I grew up in a small town and all of us played ball – my four brothers and I, my dad (Kal Varjassy) used to coach and my mom (Irene Varjassy) was always at the games,” Varjassy said. “We played in master’s tournaments while my older brother and I also played junior baseball when we got older. A few of us played at a little higher level, but we all enjoyed the game so much it didn’t matter how competitive it was. It was always a lot of fun.”
Varjassy’s career as a teacher is what initially brought him to Meadow Lake more than two decades ago. When he arrived in the community, however, he was disappointed to learn there was no local baseball program.
“There was only fastpitch, so I played that,” he said. “Then, maybe four or five years later, Glen Winkler had some kids playing junior ball, then we started to get a midget and minor ball system in order. There were a few of us who were ready to help out and who wanted to get out and play some baseball, so we got a team together in Meadow Lake.”
In years to come, that team would evolve into the Meadow Lake Sox of the North Saskatchewan River Baseball League (NSRBL), a team Varjassy is quite familiar with thanks to his current role as a baseball umpire.
“I really enjoy being an umpire,” he said. “All the years I was playing, there was always someone who donated their time to call balls and strikes. This is my way of giving something back to the game. And, I still enjoy the camaraderie. When I’m behind the plate, I’ll often talk to the catchers about how their season is going.”
According to Davin Hildebrand, who plays for the Meadow Lake Sox and who serves as a co-chair of Meadow Lake Minor Baseball, Varjassy is well respected for his skills as an umpire.
“He always does a really good job,” Hildebrand said. “We trust him and he handles the game very well. He’s done it a long time and I think he enjoys it as well, which is nice. It’s nice to see him and his family recognized in this way – it’s great for him and for baseball in our community.”
The 2014 Saskatchewan Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremony is scheduled for Aug. 16 in North Battleford.