Seeing the content of an email wasn’t believing for Crofton’s Anne Hayes.
“I just got an email from Baseball BC congratulating me,” she said. “I actually thought it was a joke.”
Turns out it was no joke that Hayes, 63, had been awarded the Baseball Canada Volunteer of the Year award. With no award functions due to COVID-19 this year when these types of honours would normally have been announced, it certainly made the email seem less believable to Hayes at first but obviously that was the means of communication under the circumstances.
“I had no idea,” said Hayes that she up for consideration of the award.
She’s just the second recipient from B.C. since the award began in 2001. The award recognizes a contribution by a dedicated, enthusiastic person who has devoted at least 10 years of volunteering within their provincial association.
Hayes and husband Grant Butler have a long association with baseball that started with their own kids and has continued long after to today, with Hayes as the treasurer, junior men’s chair, 15U chair and human resources for BC Minor Baseball and Butler the president and challenger chair.
Hayes grew up in Vancouver and graduated from Kitsilano Secondary School in 1975. She stayed in Vancouver before getting married in 1986 and moving to North Delta where sons Graham, now 32, and Taylor, 30, started playing baseball.
Hayes worked 28 years for an insurance company in Vancouver and she’s put a lot of that expertise to use over the years for the benefit of baseball.
Butler started coaching when the kids were very young and continued right up to junior men’s and was also president of North Delta Baseball.
“The whole time my kids were playing, I was on North Delta’s board,” Hayes explained.
That spanned 12 years and a variety of tasks from umpire allocation to scheduling, concessions manager and everything in between.
Hayes and Butler had previously purchased their 13-acre property in Crofton in 2006 and moved here for good in 2017. They had been in False Creek for about three years after leaving Delta.
“This was our weekend getaway and holiday place for a long time,” said Hayes of their Crofton property.
“When (Grant) sold his practice and I had lost my job, there was no reason to stay in Vancouver.”
They’ve remained involved in BC Minor even being on the Island because you can do that these days with remote meetings becoming commonplace that save everyone time and expense.
Being on the BC Minor board the last six years, Hayes has done just about everything.
“I look after their insurance,” she pointed out. “It’s sort of morphed into more. Last season, I was the only scheduler because of the COVID problems.”
In her role as division director, Hayes coordinated and created the interlocking schedule for 15U AA, 15U AAA, 18U AAA and 18U College Prep, divisions that include up to 20 teams from the Lower Mainland, Fraser Valley, Sunshine Coast, Vancouver Island, Interior and Northern BC.
That proved to be a challenging task and, with the high performance program, “we wanted them to have something,” she noted. “We started with them practicing and then they were able to go in cohorts.”
COVID restrictions kept changing and kept Hayes on her toes to make changes on the fly.
“By September, we were in Level 4 of COVID which allowed us to play in a 100-person grouping.”
The top four teams in each division were allowed to play against each other at that point.
The 15U AAA schedule had to be reworked no less than 10 times. Hayes left no stone unturned in her drive to make baseball happen for members.
It took an extraordinary effort to get through the season, something she would prefer not to repeat.
“I’m really hoping it’s changed by April,” Hayes confided. “I’m hoping we can get up and running. There was no COVID cases in minor baseball. We proved we could do it.”
Minor ball is basically grassroots baseball, she explained.
“We still go watch baseball games in Duncan and Nanaimo once in a while,” Hayes indicated.
She is also on the board of Nanaimo’s Serauxmen Stadium.
“I guess it’s something I like to do. I like baseball.”
A write-up on the Baseball Canada website summarized Hayes’ importance to the organization.
“It would be hard to imagine BC Minor Baseball and its 18,000+ members experiencing the quality of baseball proudly delivered year in and year out without Anne’s efforts. It can be confidently stated that without Anne Hayes’ work and dedication during the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, there would not have been much, if any, organized competition for the players and families of BC Minor Baseball’s 52 member communities. The positive impact Anne has on the delivery of high-quality youth baseball in the Province of British Columbia cannot be overstated.”