Baseball brought out the kid in Jay Piggot.
“My memory was when he walked on a baseball diamond he became a nine-year-old again,” says Dave Hanna.
The smell of baseball is in the air as the boys of summer practise their swings at Eldon Park on a late June evening. Hanna and fellow coach Jason Brooks smile as their respective sons Mason and Joe playfully evade a tag in right field.
The dads recall coaching alongside Piggot, starting in their sons’ T-ball years and as the players moved up to tadpole together in the North Shore Baseball Association.
“As a coach he was very much into the fun of baseball, a lot into the stats especially. He loved home runs,” attests Hanna with a laugh.
Brooks, meanwhile, will always remember the positivity Piggot exuded – even when he was sick.
Piggot was fighting a prolonged battle with a rare form of cancer, called cholangiocarcinoma, but he always deflected the focus away from himself, according to those who knew him.
“Jay was one of those people that when you had conversations with him he made you feel like there was no one else around,” explains Brooks.
Hanna's son Mason recalls Piggot giving him some pitching lessons.
“He said, ‘Point your foot towards the target.’ I threw way more accurate after, that was for sure,” says Mason.
Piggot’s nurturing instincts were further honed through his role as a paramedic and North Shore Rescue volunteer.
“He talked a lot about the guys that he was in North Shore Rescue with – and he was really proud of what they did,” says Hanna.
Adds Brooks: “I think that’s just consistent with his personality – he liked to help people.”
During Piggot’s final season as coach, the team was called the Yankees – a name those players have kept ever since for spring ball.
Piggot passed away in December 2017 at the age of 36, leaving behind his wife Denise Findlay and two young sons, Jake and Max.
The baseball coaches were moved by how packed the memorial was with Piggot’s pals from all walks of his life – from sports to North Shore Rescue to B.C. Ambulance Service and the Squamish Nation.
Hanna and Brooks discovered more details about their humble friend from the baseball field, like how Piggot was jumping out of helicopters and training North Shore Rescue recruits.
“The way he was with us with baseball, I learned he was like that with everything he did. All those different groups – they had their own version of Jay, but it was the same enthusiastic, upbeat guy,” says Brooks.
A couple years have gone by and now feels like the right time, says Hanna, to celebrate Piggot through baseball – while giving back to his beloved North Shore Rescue team.
The North Shore Baseball Association is getting set to host the first annual Jay Piggot Invitational Tournament (11U A and 11U AA), from Thursday to Sunday at Eldon and Sowden parks.
“When Jay passed we felt like it would be really nice to do something to remember him because of his passion for baseball. This just seemed like a perfect way to do it,” says Brooks.
A dozen minor baseball teams from across B.C. will take part in the round-robin style tournament and skills competition. This weekend will mark the first time North Shore Baseball has hosted a provincial tournament.
Proceeds from the event will be donated to North Shore Rescue, whose members will be on hand, along with Piggot’s family, during the tournament.
Save-On-Foods at Pemberton Plaza is hosting a barbecue on July 20, with all funds raised being donated to North Shore Rescue on behalf of the North Shore Baseball Association.
Ultimately, Hanna and Brooks hope the young players have fun on the field in Piggot’s memory this weekend.
“The tournament is giving us a real good reason to talk about him again – and raise some funds for the charity that he was so passionate about,” says Hanna.
Click here for full tournament details.