One of George Tiessen’s favourite memories of the late Peter Parsons starts on the ball diamond, before one of the many little league games the pair umpired together.
Parsons brought with him two pairs of gag Coke-bottle glasses, and he and Tiessen decided to prank the coaches at home plate.
“You can barely see through them,” Tiessen, 84, recalled. “He says, ‘Let’s put these on when we go out and get the lineups… [and meet] with the coaches at home plate.’”
The coaches — likely worried the umpires were nearly blind — didn’t know how to react.
“They were looking at us — I think — I couldn’t see — kind of strangely, and then we took the lineup cards. We were looking at them. Peter would go over to one of the coaches: ‘What’s that name there?’” Tiessen laughed.
Tiessen, who hung up his umpire’s gear many years ago, and Parsons, who died in 2007 at the age of 61, were inseparable. Tiessen’s wife, Ruthe Tiessen, recalled the two riding her husband’s motorcycle together to games, with the six-foot-four Parsons sitting on the back, holding his gear.
The two best friends and neighbours spent more than two decades together volunteering with the Central Saanich Little League, and, now, thanks to a request to the municipality’s council, their days of watching over games as a pair are no longer over — at least symbolically.
Last month, Central Saanich council approved a request from the league to rename Centennial Park’s Ball Diamond #2 — the one across from Peter Parsons Diamond — after Tiessen.
“I think it’s quite an honour,” said Tiessen, who was informed of the little league’s request about a week after council’s approval. “I didn’t expect something like that.”
Tiessen volunteered with the league for more than 25 years, starting alongside Parsons in the late ’70s when their sons started playing T-ball. He coached and umpired, serving at times as chief umpire and assistant chief umpire, and even re-designed the league’s logo, which is still used. He also, alongside Parsons, founded umpiring clinics for the league’s minors and majors divisions.
League president, Morley Wittman, said the decision to request naming the park after Tiessen was an easy one.
“We’re trying to encourage good role models and raise good citizens…. That’s really our main goal,” Wittman said. “George is a prime candidate for that type of role model that we’re looking for.”
Choosing the diamond across from Peter Parsons Diamond also seemed fitting.
“Both George and Peter Parsons were kind of a tag team for years, back in the ’90s and 2000s,” he said. “Both those guys would then be at the park… kind of overlooking the park, if that makes sense.”
Ruthe, Tiessen’s wife, said she shares the sentiment.
“I think that’s really touching. It’s going to be neat to have the two parks named after these guys,” she said.
The league plans to officially rename the field after Tiessen when next year’s season opens in April.