Initially, Derrick Surowski thought his induction to the B.C. Baseball Roll of Honour was a prank.
Then the call came from B.C. Baseball executive director David Laing.
“I was in awe,” said Surowski. “It’s an absolute honour to put it mildly. I was just flabbergasted when they phoned saying I was being inducted. I’m so humbled by it all.”
A letter read to the crowd in attendance for the ceremony described Surowski as a person who has helped the sport grow and has affected youth since 1986. His journey began as a coach with Penticton Minor Baseball. During his time with PMB, Surowski served in nearly every role from coach to president. He also served as the coaches co-ordinator as well as an umpire and eventually umpire in chief.
Surowski got his first taste of the sport while practising with his father’s team, then eventually played in Calgary, Winnipeg and Surrey. He was a short stop and second basemen, then a catcher at the end. He also played as an adult, then took time off when he had kids. Eventually, they lured him back because of their own interest to play.
“I believe in giving back to the community and helping the community,” said Surowski. “That’s what it’s all about. I just loved baseball. I have a passion, especially for youth baseball. Creating team sport and camaraderie. Help grow the kids.”
In 1995, Surowski joined the B.C. Baseball Umpire Association and filled many roles over 13 years. As an instructor and an area rep, he worked tirelessly for other officials.
In 2006, he was the recipient of the Richard Christie Unsung Hero Award for his efforts from the BCBUA. He eventually moved onto the Summerland Minor Baseball Association in 2005 and worked with the umpires in his role as the umpire in chief. He has also served the B.C. Babe Ruth Baseball Association since 2001 when he was elected as the Okanagan Thompson District Commissioner. Since then he’s added the title of assistant provincial commissioner of B.C. Babe Ruth Baseball to his long list of roles.
“Derrick has continually given of himself in any capacity that needs help and has served his community and province in a most honorable manner,” said Laing. “We are simply better off for what Derrick has done for our sport.”
During the last 10 years, Surowski has battled cancer. The illness kept him away from field at different times.
“My philosophy is always go out and make a difference in your life.”
The impact has driven him to help the sport at the grass roots level.
“Go out and show the kids, no matter how far down you are, you are never down and out,” said Surowski, who grew up idolizing Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle and Yogi Berra. “Just never give up.”