By Marianne Curtis
The community of Vassar recently honored one of the community’s old timers for over six decades of dedication towards the growth of baseball in the tiny community.
When the 40th Annual Vassar Baseball Tournament took place August 21 and 22, Vassar took the opportunity to honor one of their local legends during a very special ceremony.
About 400 people came out to recognize 73-year-old Richard Cayer for his lifelong dedication to baseball in the community. Sunday was named “Richard Cayer Day” and the community’s only park was officially renamed to honor the veteran ball player, manager and groundskeeper.
Sister-in-law Joyce Cayer was one of the speakers at the event.
“This day was planned by community members to honor and thank Richard for his many contributions to our community and to recognize the time and effort he has spent to help make the park what it is today,” explained Joyce.
About 70 years ago Ovide and Louise Cote donated the land which is now Diamond #1 and Diamond #2. Nine years later Richard Cayer, who was a 22-year-old ball player, was asked to help get the field ready for a game. That was the beginnings of a lifetime dedicated to baseball as a player, manager and groundskeeper.
“He spent most of his 61 summers diligently and tirelessly dedicated to the beautification of the ball park, overseeing and organizing improvements every year,” added Joyce. “He is so honored that his community recognized his efforts the way they did.”
This was a huge accomplishment for a man that was told at the age of 36 that he would never walk again.
“He was paralyzed from the waist down – the cause seemed to point to a baseball injury he suffered when he chased a fly ball and fell over a fence onto a pile of rocks,” Joyce continued. “He was told he would never walk again, but he proved them wrong.”
Despite years of recovery and rehabilitation, Richard did not give up on the sport that he loved. When hardball gave way to fastball, he managed a midget team made up of players from many of the surrounding towns, one team made it to the provincials. He not only managed baseball teams, he was instrumental in organizing the different leagues and served as president of the border league, which included teams in the U.S.
A few years ago Richard Cayer was nominated to the Manitoba Baseball Hall of Fame but he was not inducted.