Sonny Collinson spent a lot of time at the ball park just hitting flies and grounders to kids who would show up for extra practice.

Sonny Collinson spent a lot of time at the ball park just hitting flies and grounders to kids who would show up for extra practice.

Diamonds will forever be in Sonny’s heart

In memoriam: There’ll never be another guy quite like Ron Collinson for his dedication and love of baseball

If you’ve ever been anywhere near any ball fields in the valley, chances are you knew Ron (Sonny) Collinson.

The longtime baseball coach and follower of everything on the diamond from softball to slo-pitch and fastpitch and an overall sports enthusiast died last Wednesday. He was 66.

While Crofton was his home base, Collinson would show up to watch just about anywhere ball games were played.

There is already a movement afoot to name a baseball field after him in Crofton.

The idea sprung up in conversation between famous Croftonite Gerry Hurst and Mike Rochon. “He texted me and we got talking,’’ said Hurst.

“I said consider it done. We put it out to everybody that it’s going out that way.’’

The proposal is spreading like wildfire on Facebook. “I’ve had over 50 responses for doing this for the park,’’ said Hurst.

A formal request will be made to the Municipality of North Cowichan to name the field closest to Robert Street in honour of Collinson.

“Having a field named after him made me cry,’’ said daughter Sandra Collinson.

Sonny is also survived by daughter Tracy, adoptive mother Pat, brother Ted (Darlene), sisters Evelyn (Gord) and Linda (Lloyd) and numerous nieces, nephews and extended family.

Sonny spent his entire working career of 41 years at the Crofton pulp mill.

“When he wasn’t at work, his love was baseball — be it playing, coaching or watching,’’ read a statement from the family. “He devoted endless hours to promoting the game and keeping his players enthused and loved to reward them with trips, milkshakes and burgers. He was always on the lookout for gloves that he could resurrect and supply to kids who didn’t have their own. The game lost one of its best promoters.’’

A huge crowd is expected to turn up at a memorial service for Collinson on Sunday, May 19 at 1 p.m. at the Crofton Community Centre.

Blair Nicholson will be the MC. “He saw all the different sides of Sonny,’’ said Sandra.

“He was Mr. Baseball,’’ said Larry Irving, who coached with him on several teams.

“There’s so much to say. He was the most dedicated guy I’ve ever seen. He just loved baseball and hockey, too.’’

One of Collinson’s remarkable traits was remembering people’s birthdates.

“That’s quite an amazing thing,’’ said Peter Brownlow, who was on baseball teams coached by Collinson. “When he got into the hospital, some nurse came by and he yelled at her ‘your birthdate is such and such a day.’

“He taught us so many lessons just about hard work and teamwork, those sorts of things,’’ added Brownlow.

“He’d have us out at practices in January and February getting ready for the year. If it was raining, he’d have us in the dugout doing a test.’’

“When I first started coaching the boys in Little League, 35 years ago, whenever I would go up to the field for a practice, Sonny was always there hitting fly balls and ground balls to any of the boys and girls who wanted to come up to the field,’’ noted Paul Rukus. “It turned out he was there every day.’’