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League honours Don "Sudsy" Sutherland

By Sean Chase, The Daily Observer

LAURENTIAN VALLEY – The Alice and Fraser Slo Pitch League paused from their playoffs Thursday night to remember Don “Sudsy” Sutherland, honouring the passion and dedication that he brought not only to the game but the league itself.

LAURENTIAN VALLEY – The Alice and Fraser Slo Pitch League paused from their playoffs Thursday night to remember Don “Sudsy” Sutherland, honouring the passion and dedication that he brought not only to the game but the league itself.

 

LAURENTIAN VALLEY – The Alice and Fraser Slo Pitch League paused from their playoffs Thursday night to remember Don “Sudsy” Sutherland, honouring the passion and dedication that he brought not only to the game but the league itself.

It was an emotional evening as Sutherland's wife, Cathy, and daughter, Meghan, were warmly greeted by the players who held a pre-game ceremony to unveil a plaque in Sudsy's name, the first time such an honour has been bestowed at the Alice and Fraser Recreation centre.

Members of the Brew Jays and G&B Renovations formed up on the baselines, while the Cougars, the team Sutherland played with over an unprecedented 35 years, gathered on the pitcher's mound. League president Brian Brohart considered Sutherland a friend, teammate and mentor whose devotion set the league up for future success. The plaque will be mounted onto what the league is calling the “Bench of Honour” in one of the field's dugouts.

“Don will always have a seat in that dugout,” said Brohart. “This is someone who is deserving of this honour.”

Sutherland began playing with the league in 1981, one year after it was formed. He served as a team captain and member of the executive mostly recently as treasurer. When he took to the field for what was to be his final game last summer, Sudsy was already the longest serving player in league history. He passed away on Dec. 14, 2016 at age 64.

After presenting the Sutherlands with a bouquet of flowers, Cathy threw out the ceremonial first pitch kicking off the third game of the 'B' Division finals. She thanked the league and the players for remembering the family and honouring her husband with this gesture.

“I'm overwhelmed,” she said. “I appreciate that they thought enough of him to do this.”

Cathy was heartened to see so many of her husband's Cougars teammates attending the ceremony. While baseball became a family affair, for Don Sutherland it went beyond the competition and the sport itself.

“It wasn't so much the baseball but it was the comraderie,” she added.

Brohart considered the league to be at a point now where it is one of the largest and most competitive in the region and he attributed Sutherland to much of that.

“He set up the league and it is such great shape,” he noted. “He always wanted provided recreational opportunities for men in this area.”

The Sutherland family will be hosting the annual Kidney Walk today at the Pembroke Marina. The walk begins at 11 a.m. with registration at the Riverwalk Ampitheatre starting at 10 a.m. The walk is one of several being held across Ontario this weekend with the goal of raising $750,000. For more information, to register, or to donate, please visit www.kidneywalk.ca.

SChase@postmedia.com