I’m pretty sure I stole second base that day.
Amanda Asay was behind the plate in the early innings of the final game I played against her.
I seem to recall saying something to her about the stolen bag the next time I stepped in the box. I remember her massive grin under her catcher’s mask, almost as if to say, ‘I dare you to try it again.’
It was Aug. 7 – just months before she died – at Richmond’s Minoru Park, where my Richmond Red Sox were trounced 14-3 by the always tough Vancouver Pirates.
Amanda didn’t play every game with the Lower Mainland Baseball Association’s Pirates. But when she did, she seemed to always do something memorable, whether it be gunning a runner down when she was behind the plate, or laying out to catch a line drive up the middle when she was playing second base.
I also remember seeing her family there at nearly every game, greeting her behind the dugout with huge smiles and hugs, as if it was their first time seeing her play. (They must have watched her play so much baseball over the years.)
Amanda died Jan. 7 after an accident at Whitewater Ski Resort near Nelson. She was just 33.
Regardless of where Amanda played on the field, it was obvious to everyone on both teams that she was a true gamer. She seemed to relish the fact that she was out there playing hardball, competing with the guys.
With the women, her baseball credentials were second to none.
Originally from Prince George, she spent 15 years on the national baseball team, starting as a 17-year-old in 2005. She was part of the team that won silver at the 2015 Pan Am Games in Toronto, won five World Cup medals and was a two-time MVP at first base in 2006 and as a pitcher in 2016.
“She was a competitor who possessed all of the characteristics that you look for in a baseball player,” said André Lachance, who managed Amanda on several national teams. “Above all, she was a terrific person who will leave a lasting impact on many people, not only with the Women’s National Team program but all of those who were lucky enough to meet her.”
If all that wasn’t enough, Amanda also played hockey with the Nelson Blueliners and held a doctorate in forestry.
After dedicating the 2022 season to Amanda, the Lower Mainland Baseball Association had this to say about her on its website:
“Amanda made the game of baseball better and everyone (teammates, opponents) benefited from her presence…. Her impact on the development of female baseball in the province was immeasurable.”
The LMBA is right. The impact that female players like Amanda have had on the sport can be seen right up to big leagues.
Last year in San Francisco, Alyssa Nakken became the first woman to have a full-time coaching role in Major League Baseball and became the first woman to coach on the field during an MLB game.
And in New York, Rachel Balkovec has been named the first female manager in minor league baseball. The Yankees promoted Balkovec to manager of the Low A Tampa Tarpons, making her the first woman to skipper a team affiliated with Major League Baseball.
Moves like this would likely never have happened without trailblazing ball players like Amanda.
“I think one of the biggest things I want to tell the young players is that if this is what you love to do and you’re willing to just work hard, you can find a way,” she told Postmedia in 2020. “More places are opening up all the time if baseball is your passion. I want to encourage them to keep going.”
Rest in peace, Amanda.
Beau Simpson is editor of the Surrey Now-Leader. Email him at email@example.com