*RHP Connor May (Oshawa) of the Oshawa Legionaries and OF Byron Reichstein (St. Thomas) of the London Badgers earned Baseball Ontario player of the year honours.
By Kerri Drake
Just over five years ago Connor May was attending Bloorview Rehabilitation Centre recovering from injuries sustained in an auto accident.
May had suffered a fractured skull and numerous facial fractures which put him in a coma at McMaster University and Sick Kids hospitals for over a week. May had to learn to function with the devastating and debilitating effects of a catastrophic brain injury all while trying to come to terms with the fact that his role model, his father, Troy May, a wonderful man with a baseball-shaped heart, was killed in the very same accident.
Connor worked hard every day to compensate for the deficiencies that affect his behavior, comprehension, memory and coordination. Playing sports again, especially at the competitive level he was accustomed to, seemed to be a distant memory. However, being the determined and tenacious youngster he is, he continually battled, refusing to give up on his passion for the game of baseball.
Unable to play any contact sports, Connor focused his time and energy on the game he loves, attending camps and clinics in the off season and following a self-regimented training program 3-5 times a week, at the Delta London Armories in London.
Connor capped an unforgettable season bringing home Baseball Ontario’s Youth Player of the Year award at their Awards Gala on Saturday evening. Byron Reichstein of St. Thomas, of the London Badgers midget was named Adult Player of The Year (bantam age and up). Reichstein was an integral part of this year’s Badgers posting a .404 average and he is attending Texarkana College in Texarkana, Tex. on a scholarship. In 2010, Reichstein was a member of the Ontario Youth team that won a Silver in the 2010 Canada Cup.
Badgers coach Mike Lumley earned the Baseball Ontario Coach of The Year Award after his midget Badgers captured the Gold Medal at the 2011 Baseball Canada nationals in Regina. For Lumley it was the second Gold in three years for the Badgers, to go with a bronze medal in 2010.
Connor May, who turned 13 in September, excelled in every facet of the game with his Oshawa Peewee Legionaries. Over the course of 47 games he batted .629. In 151 at-bats he had 54 singles, 20 doubles, 11 triples, 10 home runs and 96 RBIs. He had a .713 on base percentage and scored 87 times. He had six strikeouts in 171 plate appearances. In his 47 games there were only two games he did not record a hit and started the season with a 28-game hit streak.
Defensively Connor was a vacuum at shortstop and on the mound logging 237 innings with only 13 errors in 123 chances.
Arguably Connor’s most valuable accomplishment this year came on the mound, going 15-0 with 111 strikeouts in 69 1/3 innings pitched and a 2.86 ERA. Connor led his team to a 47-6 record including EOBA Peewee regular season division champions, three tournament victories, one tournament finalist and OBA AA bronze medalists.
Connor’s accolades do not end there. He racked up two tournament MVP awards in Niagara Falls and Bolton and won a farthest throw competition with a throw of 260 feet – over 40 feet further than the closest competitor. He was one of 12 EOBA peewee players selected to the 2011 Peewee all-star team that competed at the Don McKnight all-star tournament Sept. 17-18. Over the two day tournament he excelled offensively and defensively. At the plate he went 8-for-14 (.576 average) with six singles, two doubles and two RBIs with a .667 on base percentage. Connor got the game three start against Central Ontario Baseball Association, eventual tourney champs, holding them to only one run over five innings allowing only four singles and striking out eight COBA batters. Connor was awarded two game MVP awards out of the four games played.
In addition to his team accomplishments, Connor competed at the 2011 Local Aquafina Pitch Hit and Run Competition and won. He proceeded to the sectional competition in Port Hope also winning the overall title. His score at the sectionals was one of the top three in Ontario qualifying him for the Canadian championship at Rogers Centre. At the Rogers Centre, Connor had his best ever showing beating the competition by over 300 points and finishing fifth in North America in the 12U age group – less than 50 points away from being one of the three representatives at the MLB All-Star game in Arizona.
For his achievements this season, in addition to the OBA Player of the Year award, he received the Oshawa Minor Baseball Peewee MVP and Top Pitcher Awards and his team was the recipient of the Team of the Year Award at the Oshawa Baseball Banquet held in October. Connor will also accept the Eastern Ontario Baseball Player of the Year award at their awards ceremony on Nov. 26, 2011.
The other award winners included:
Fergie Jenkins Pitcher of the Year (Pee Wee & Down) -- Jacob Kush.
Fergie Jenkins Pitcher of the Year-Bantam & Up) -- Steven Carter.
Coach of the Year (Pee Wee & Down) -- Carrie-Anne McQuaid.
Coach of the Year (Bantam & Up) -- Mike Lumley.
Team of the Year -- North York Blues bantams.
Association of the Year -- Intercounty Association.
Dick Willis Junior Umpire of the Year -- Matt Clarke.
Dick Willis Senior Umpire of the Year -- Dennis Watson.
Don Gilbert Umpire of the Year -- Rob Companion.
Jack Middlemass Award-Volunteer of the Year -- Patrick and Kerstin Campagna.
President Award -- David Huctwith.
Barry Salt Award-Director of the Year -- Dirk Drieberg.
Former OBA players of the year:
Year Junior and Senior Players of the Year
1994 Chris Green Mike Kusiewicz
1995 Paul Brown Shawn Pearson
1996 Dan Hansen Doug Vandecaveye
1997 Scott Thorman Jason Mandryk
1998 Bradley Gould Patrick Nailer
1999 Chris Emanuele Tanner Watson
2000 Derek Lowe BJ Richardson
2001 Dan Zehr Chris Robinson
2002 Kate Psota Jamie Romak
2003 Ian Choy Cherie Piper
2004 Trevor Barton Davey Wallace
2005 Cain Monaghan Kevin Long
2006 Tanner Nivins Greg Densem
2007 McCalla Sturgeon Robert Cooper
2008 Geoffrey Seto Larry Balkwill
2009 Nicholas Dimpfel Ryan Zimmer
2010 Josh Naylor Jake Lumley
2011 Connor May Byron Reichstein