OTTAWA - Canada’s Olympic baseball hopes ended in June after a hard-fought loss to the Dominican Republic at the WBSC Baseball Americas Olympic Qualifier.
Although Canada won’t be part of the six-team field that will be competing in the Tokyo 2020 baseball competition, a pair of Canadian representatives will be directly involved in the event when play begins on July 28th with host Japan facing the aforementioned Dominicans.
Shari Reiniger of Sherwood Park, Alberta will be attending games in her role as one of three Technical Commissioners while Toronto’s Trevor Grieve will be one of 12 umpires working games.
“To represent the WBSC (World Baseball Softball Confederation) as an Olympic International Technical Official is such an honour and extremely humbling,” said Reiniger. “I always look at my international baseball work as a privilege to serve the sport and the WBSC as well as the teams and athletes competing.
“I take my work seriously, while also having fun exploring new countries and hanging out with some pretty awesome people from around the world.”
A veteran technical official at various WBSC events for over 17 years, Reiniger was extremely honoured when she was given the news of her Olympic assignment and will be realizing a childhood dream of attending the pinnacle event in the sporting world.
“Like most young athletes, I dreamed of going to the Olympics,” she said. “I never dreamed I would be given this opportunity later in life, especially as an International Technical Official in baseball.
“Even as I was assigned to the previous two U18 World Cups and the Premier 12, I still never dreamed this could happen. I literally had to put my hand down on a table to steady myself when I was given the news.”
Unfortunately, with these Olympic games, that were delayed by one year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, there will be no fans in attendance which Reiniger sympathizes with the local baseball community in not being able to watch in-person some of the world’s best players compete for a gold medal.
“I was truly looking forward to the Japanese baseball experience with 70,000 passionate fans cheering for their country at Yokohama Stadium,” explained Reiniger. “I'm sad for the Japanese people that now they will not be able to attend any Games venues in the Tokyo area.”
Similar to Reiniger, Trevor Grieve will be realizing a childhood dream when he steps onto the field at Tokyo 2020 to work his first Olympic baseball game as an umpire.
“Working an Olympic Games is the culmination of my umpiring career,” said Grieve. “As a young kid I remember watching the Olympic Games every couple years with anticipation, it was the pinnacle of an amateur athlete's career. I would sit in front of the tv for two weeks straight watching any and every event I could.
“Personally, although not attending the Olympics as an athlete, to attend as an umpire and have this opportunity is a dream come true.”
Grieve has already built an impressive resume of working international baseball events that includes two World Baseball Classics (2013 & 2017) including the final round in 2017, along with the Europe/Africa Olympic Baseball Qualifier that took place in September 2019.
He cherishes every moment he’s had at international events and is truly honoured to be one of 12 umpires selected to work at Tokyo 2020.
“It isn't just one thing that makes International Baseball so great, it's everything combined,” said Grieve. “The umpires and the friendships I've made and kept, the fans, the excitement, the travel, the ability to communicate without speaking the same language both on and off the field.
“Only six teams qualified and only 12 umpires were selected, and to be a part of the group is an honour, to represent Canada, the WBSC, and baseball in general.”
Although the Covid-19 situation has altered what a traditional Olympic experience will be like for all participants regardless of their role in the games, Grieve still has much to look forward to in Tokyo.
“At this point I just look forward to walking back out on to the field to umpire,” he said. “I look forward to seeing all the WBSC officials and other umpires, many of whom I have great friendships with and then supporting each other through the two weeks.”