The All Dorchester Sports League (ADSL) dedicated a city-owned field house in Fields Corner to longtime coach and mentor Jim Collyer on Sat., Nov 9. Mayor Martin Walsh spoke at the event which was also attended by State Senators Linda Dorcena Forry and Sonia Chang Diaz as well as many of the city’s elected officials including city councillors Frank Baker and Ayanna Pressley. Former mayor of Boston Ray Flynn also attended the ceremony.
Collyer, 86, began playing baseball in Town Field when he was about 12 years old. He played his first official Park League game in 1951, and continued pitching, sometimes in front of thousands of spectators, until he was 63. Collyer joined the ADSL board of directors in 1989 and he has been dedicated to enriching children’s lives through baseball ever since.
Collyer founded ADSL’s T- ball league which has become a cornerstone of the organization. He is known as much for his guidance and kindness in between innings as for his instruction on the field, often handing out baseball trading cards, memorabilia and books to youngsters after games. Despite health complications and advancing age, Collyer remains an fierce advocate for ADSL and Town Field.
“If you care about Doherty Gibson Park you won’t let ADSL go down the drain due to lack of funds,” said Collyer during an emotional address. He thanked current and former board members with tears in his eyes and called for a moment of silence to honor the passing of Mayor Menino and his own dear friend and former catcher Bernie Curly.
There were lighter moments in the ceremony. Collyer shared stories from his coaching days, including the time a boy in the T- Ball league got hit in the chest with a ball.
“I ran out to him with his father,” said Collyer said. “And I said to him, ‘Hey there is no crying in baseball.’ So the boy is trying not to cry but tears are coming out his eyes so I say here have a [baseball trading ]card. And he looks at it and says, ‘Don’t want it, it’s a Yankee!’”
The 60 or so people who attended the dedication found the adjacent baseball field surrounded by chain link fencing.
“We don’t name a field house and then shut down a park for no reason,” said Boston Parks Commissioner Christopher Cook, addressing the audience. The field is currently undergoing a $275,000 renovation.
Cook stressed how important involvement from the community is in park maintenance and improvement and thanked “ this community in particular and especially Collyer who have given an enormous part of their lives to the Boston Park System. “
Cook also thanked Collyer’s wife Margaret “Peggy” Brown, “for sharing him with us.”
Improvements to the field include: refurbishing the baseball and softball fields, reaping and installing fencing, fixing the batting cages, installing water bottle filling stations and improving seating.