At a special presentation during the opening ceremonies of the 2022 Grand Forks International Baseball Tournament last week, Mayor Brian Taylor introduced the newest recipients of Freedom of the City, Larry Seminoff and Gerry Foster.
The Community Charter allows local governments to award the distinction of “Freedom of The City”, requiring the award to be a unanimous vote of Council. On April 11th, the seven members of Grand Forks City Council voted to confer Freedom of the City on Larry Seminoff and Gerry Foster for their longstanding contributions to the community, and in particular their work on the internationally acclaimed baseball tournament.
The tournament started with the ground-breaking work of Larry Seminoff in 1968 as the Grand Forks Labour Day Baseball Tournament, earning Larry the nickname “Mr. Baseball”. Under his leadership, the tournament grew from a regional event into the tournament which continues today, becoming the Grand Forks International in 1975. Over the years, Larry’s committee advocated for significant upgrades to James Donaldson Park: lights were installed in 1981, and the new grandstand was built in 1986. Seminoff told the crowd at the park last Wednesday night that City Council approved the construction of the concrete grandstand in time to allow its completion just before the first overseas team, Chinese Taipei (Taiwan) played in the tournament in 1986. Japan sent a team the following year.
When Larry stepped away from the GFI, another local baseball enthusiast was in the wings. Gerry Foster attended his first GFI tournament in the 90s while living in Midway and became hooked – so much so that he stepped in as coordinator to ensure that this focal point of summers in Grand Forks continued with the same high calibre of play that baseball fans had come to expect in the preceding decades. Overseas teams continued to be a part of the GFI lineup from countries including Australia, Russia, Chinese Taipei, and Mainland China, in addition to an expanding number of American states, including Texas, California, Ohio, New York, and Nevada. Foster told the crowd at the presentation that he felt his role, and that of the volunteers he recruited, was to ensure the continuation of the legacy established by Seminoff and his team.
Both recipients acknowledged the amazing support of fans, volunteers, and the community in making their award of Freedom of the City possible. Mayor Taylor presented plaques commemorating the award to the two men on behalf of Council.