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Baseball Canada retires Amanda Asay’s number

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Baseball Canada has retired the jersey number of a Nelson resident who starred for the national women’s team as part of a weekend of celebrations in her honour.

Amanda Asay joined the Canadian national team in 2005 and won five Women’s Baseball World Cup medals. She died in a skiing accident at Whitewater in January, age 33.

This past Saturday and Sunday, family, friends, and teammates converged on Nelson to remember her life.

“She was a huge part of our program,” says Ashley Stephenson, who played with her on the national team from 2005-18 and was among those present. “She was a good friend and great teammate so it was a big loss.”

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Stephenson says the celebration of life was delayed due to COVID protocols and to wait until a better time of year for people to pay their respects. Most people flew in or drove in on Friday. On Saturday, two pick-up softball games were held at Queen Elizabeth Park.

“I think way more people showed up than they expected,” Stephenson says, who adds that they had a chance to meet Asay’s family plus local friends, teammates, and co-workers.

The following day, the Toronto Blue Jays hosted a free youth clinic in Asay’s honour, which drew about 85 players, male and female, from around the region.

Stephenson, who has been a coach with the national team since 2019, participated as one of the Blue Jays academy instructors.

“We had a great time. We were really lucky. It was a bit chilly but despite calling for rain the whole weekend, it held off until we were packing up from the clinic. The stars aligned for us to have a great weekend.”

Also Sunday, it was announced that Baseball Canada has retired Asay’s No. 19, which she wore her entire career. The number will not be worn again by a member of the women’s national team.

The team will also wear a patch on their jerseys that says “Ace” (Asay’s nickname).

“That’s really special for us,” Stephenson says. “She’ll be with us when we play. But it’s actually quite challenging for the [World Baseball Softball Confederation] to allow us to alter uniforms. Technically you’re not allowed to put anything on them, but they made an exception for our uniforms which we’re really happy with.”

Finally, the Blue Jays announced a $10,000 donation to the women’s national team in Asay’s name.

Stephenson thanked Nelson’s baseball community for welcoming them and working behind the scenes to prepare for the youth clinic.

“She’d only been there a few years, but she loved it and it was nice that we got to see why. We’re really happy we got a chance to go there and experience her home. We appreciate the community.”

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