• 2019 Season To Begin on May 16th
News

Zak #13

February 18, 2019

 

The York Diamonds are deeply saddened by the passing of Pete Zakkak. `Zak`s` love for baseball and for the Diamonds will never be forgotten.

Zak was the king of Keelesdale Park, spending thousands of hours to make it look pristine. A long-time second baseman for the Diamonds, Zak was a friend and mentor to his teammates  as well as to all of the young players he coached on the York Midget Team. He was truly one of a kind.

Below are some tributes from people whose lives Zak touched:

"I have many ......many.......many fond memories of Zak but first and foremost was his commitment to our team and his unselfish supreme efforts to keep Keelesdale in optimum condition for our benefit.......Thank you Zak Attack !!

 
God Bless you Zak........rest in peace"
Don Cantwell #33

 

" Zak was so dedicated to baseball and Keelesdale. Things will not be the same without him."

Dave Wiseman #3

 

"I can't imagine not seeing a grumpy Zak at the ballpark.  His love for the place is a huge reason we've been able to stay together all these years.

I bet Hawk and Zak are playing catch by now. "

Rich Freeman #20

 

"We were fortunate to have such a great park to play in all because of Zak."

John Bissylas #8

 

"Zak truly was one of a kind; one of the most generous people I've been able to know. He will be truly missed, more than I'm sure he would care to know, he would just sheepishly shrug it off. I hope the city considers renaming the park for all he has done for the players, coaches, teams, and  parents who have come through the park, as well as the grounds themselves."

Eric Davidson #32

 

"Just sitting here reminiscing all the great memories I have of Peter (I never called him Zak to his face). He always treated me and my family with the utmost of respect. Thank you Peter for giving us a great home to dig in our cleats, thanks for the free private skates at Lambton, thanks for the free tubs of ice cream at Baskins and thanks for being “grumpy Zak”. Btw Loved it when you locked our opponents dressing room during the playoffs. You will be missed."

Greg Shannon #17

 

"It’s hard to believe. Our park would never be the same without him. I filmed him las summer when he was raking the infield. I always thank him for doing all that work. He’ll be missed by all of us. RIP Zak" 

Manny Rodriguez #5

 

"Nobody loved baseball more than Zak. He adored Roberto Alomar. Once he took me to a Jays game and had to give Robbie a big carton of grape ice right behind home plate. His dedication to keeping Keelesdale pristine was truly remarkable. Underneath the crusty exterior was a crusty interior, but underneath the crusty interior was a heart of gold. He was always fantastic with my kids and my son is just realizing that he is gone.

I have so many fond memories of Zak. Rooming with him the year we won the Lanark tournament and walking into the bathroom and finding that the bath tub now had a giant pine tar ring going all the way around it. His infatuation with the Oopie ball from KFC during that same tournament.

His unbelievable dedication to making Keeelsdale look and feel big league.

The more than 50 home runs he hit as Diamond...of course half of them were probably just over the 275 sign at Sentinel. The biggest home run being the walkoff to win the semifinal in Peterborough.

The knuckleball that danced whenever he got the chance to pitch.

The fact that he basically turned the Keelesdale clubhouse into his own house...a crazy baseball shrine.

Always giving me odds and ends from the Jays clubhouse to wear, Paul Spoljaric socks, Jeff Frye shoes, Huck Flener undershirt, Jose Cruz pants...the list on and on.

Mainly I will miss the fact that he was a great friend who would do anything for you once he trusted you.

Needless to say, number 13 will be the next number going up on the Diamonds Wall of Fame. "

Paul Freeman #38

 

"My memories of Zak go back to when he first showed up to play at Keelesdale (yes, when Jesus was a baby) - A quiet man with a dedication to bettering himself than I had yet to ever see (other than Ken jogging around the perimeter). Never saw a guy diving for balls before, or tirelessly hitting fungo's to himself (which was quite amusing - I couldn't do it!).

 
Sad news - way too young. " 
 

Chris MacAleer #4

 

"Zak and I spent many afternoons just him and I for batting practice.  I'll never forget the time he took me to Blue Jays opening day in 1997.  It was the Rockets first game with the Jays.  No one loved baseball as much as Zak.  I enjoyed all my time on the team with him and watching those little legs hustle out a double.  Always felt comfortable with him at 2nd base when I was on the mound or at 1st base.  He will be missed, but I'm sure he has already found a diamond where he is because that is his heaven.

 
RIP ZAK. One of a kind"
 
Andrew Lance #11

 

"I didn’t know Zak as well as most of you, but for the few years that I had as a York Diamond, I have to admit that he demonstrated the highest level of commitment, respect, and love for the game.

 
He will be missed. "  
 
Marcel Roque #29
 
 
 "R. I. P. Peter (Zak) Zakkak former York player and Keelesdale Park fixture Players from both sides respected Zak for 100s of hours maintaining Keelesdale, like Bobby Smyth looked after Connorvale Zak was a memorable character and will be remembered fondly by all @YorkPioneers "
 
Bob Elliott
 
 
"When I first visited Keelesdale Park back in April 1998 after I had just moved to Toronto I knew immediately that I would love to play on that gem of a field. Of course that was 100% Zak’s doing.  My absolute best single moment being a York Diamond was Zak’s walk-off blast in the bottom of the 7th against the Ottawa Panthers in the semifinals of the Peterborough tournament in August 2000, to take us into the finals the next day. What a moment for Zak, what a moment for the York Diamonds. 
If you gave Zak your respect he gave it back in spades. He will be greatly missed. "
 
Neil Parekh #11
 
 
"I lost my best friend today,, I am heart broken. He opened the doors for me in 1995 to play baseball with York Pioneers along with John Blair, when my parents were still back home in Guatemala , he helped me allots and worked together on the baseball diamond getting Keelesdale North ready for tournaments, practices but after everyone was gone we will hit BP until 3am lol!! allots great memories with my grumpy old friend. My son is destroyed after learning his Godfather passed away today. #zak13 #bakersdozen thank you for calling me on Saturday before work, we had a good laugh about your new Dash Cam to check the chicks out not your driving habits. Love you!!"
 
Victor Medina #18
 

 

"When I first met Zak, he had just witnessed me taking some batting practice before a game.  He quickly pointed out that I needed batting gloves.  I was a student at the time and had decided I didn’t have money for batting gloves so I was going bare hand at the plate.  He disappears into the clubhouse for a minute, comes back out and tosses me a brand new pair of gloves.  Insists I take them and he didn’t need me to pay him.  I didn’t know Zak too well, but I think this shows how he wanted the best for the team, even if it meant giving out some batting gloves at his expense to some rookie."

 

Matt Krause #24

 

"I still remember when Zak was coaching me on the Junior team. Later on after I was out of TBA playing against Zak in the senior leagues. Then finally when I came back to play for York how he would bust my chops for wearing all my red gear from past teams . You will defiantly be missed as you were a staple at Keelsedale park RIP Zak."

Fil Vazzano #10

 

"He did a lot of great things for the Diamonds both on and off the field. I will miss the banter combined with some really good baseball discussions that we had over the years. On the field, I can say as a teammate, you always knew that he could, at any point, come up with a big hit or stellar defensive play at the right time. And, as an opponent you always knew he could come up with a big hit or stellar defensive play at the wrong time. R.I.P. Zak, you’ll be missed."

John Raddi #35

 

"Zak's dedication to baseball and York was omnipresent and will be missed dearly."

 

Brett Burns #13/14

 

"I didn't know Zak very well but appreciated everything he did for Keelsdale and the York Diamonds organization. "

Alex Beauvais

 

"What I’ll remember is that he always called me “Brenn’er” and behind the outward facing grumpiness he wanted to do great things for the team and for the field.  He once invited me to one of his private batting practice sessions with his friends, made sure I had lots of at-bats, and definitely made sure I helped count that every last ball had been collected when we were done!  I’ll never forget when I came back from pseudo retirement he welcomed me back to Keelesdale with a big smile and promptly opened the dressing room for the team that day; that wasn’t always guaranteed!  Like many others have said, I feel privileged to have played at a field he was so proud of and I thank him for his many contributions to our team and to the game of Baseball.  It will be very different at Keelesdale in the coming years. "

Brent Sterling #12

 

"I didn’t get the chance to play alongside Zak or know him as well as many of you, however I did want to add a couple of memories into the mix.  

 
First off, legend has it that Zak threw the best BP.  I didn’t get to witness it firsthand but it was consistently talked about.  
 
Second, Zak always made me smile after every home game when he gave the exact same instructions.  “Grab the rake and just fill in the holes”.  I don’t think I ever quite mastered it because Zak would almost always grab the rake from me and show me how to do it.  It became pretty humorous after year five.
 
Really the thing I remember about Zak was how much he loved baseball and this group of guys.  In particular when  numbers were retired over the past few years Zak always put in a lot of extra time to write messages in the chalk and make the night special for the guy whose number was being retired.  Zak was probably the biggest supporter during the ceremony as well.  He bragged about the abilities of the guys he coached and always had a story or two of past games to share.
 
Quite a testament really when you look at the wide range of people he impacted.  
 
For all of those that knew Zak well, I’m very sorry for your loss! "
 
Justin Williams #55
 
 
"I met Zak when I was playing on the York Diamonds and we played together for around 3-4 years.  I remember a couple of things quite distinctively about Zak:
 
1) he really loved taking care of the baseball park and he was amazing at it and the park looked beautiful which made playing there so enjoyable and
2) I remember thinking this is one of the grumpiest and grouchiest people I've ever met and I think this guy hates me but then every once in a while he cracked a little smile while saying hey Sally, throw the ball harder, and it made me laugh.
 
Rest in Peace Zak and you will be missed."
 
Jason Stober #3

 

 
"As I reflect on my  relationship with Zak aka: Pete, Zakattack, Zakie, and my personal nick name Zakerina I can only reiterate what all you have already said.His respect and politeness to my family was much appreciated. I will also add that the mention of his grumpiness was likely attributed to a lack of appreciation or acknowledgement for all of his tireless efforts. I know I was guilty of that sometimes.Whenever I did give him praise for the immaculate field we played on, his eyes lit up like a Christmas tree and a smirk followed.His personality was paralleled with baseball and his relationship with his friends.If you disrespected him or the game you would get roasted by Zak. Follow his sacred rules of  the game and friendship and he's got your back.
 
Little story: Many years ago I made a bat rack for Zak and at first it was appreciated but for years I never heard the end of it. He'd say to me " Fraser , this bat rack is too heavy to move unless I have a forklift so I now use it to store my equipment"  RIP Zakerina and say hello to the Hawk for me."
 
Rob Fraser aka "Grizz" #22
 
 

Zak’s Love, Passion and Dedication for baseball and people around it was impeccable. I got the privilege to play with him and also got a chance to see the softer side him. You will truly be missed my friend. You have left a mark on people’s lives who you have touched. Seeing you go too early is a sad day for us all in the baseball world today, but we all know you are taking care of the field of dreams now. ⚾️. You will be missed my friend, but never forgotten in our hearts.

Chetan Gandhi #6 
 
 
 
I am deeply saddened with the passing of not only a coach of mine, but a major motivational influence for many people that love the game. It took sometime for me to realize that under his rough and grumpy shell, laid a very humorous and charismatic soul. 
 
One thing that I would always remember about Coach Zak was his ability to recognize your true potential without you even noticing that it was prevalent. “You’re sh-t” was an obvious motivational tactic that he would use for many, and heck it worked! He also wouldn’t hesitate to teach me and my teammates the game of baseball. 
 
Coach Zak will never be forgotten and will stay a legend in our memories and hearts. Rest In Peace Coach Zak.
 
Nick Pereira #22
 
 
 
There will never be another person as dedicated to the game of baseball as that man was. He truly was one of a kind. He used to ask me after every home game if I got a hit, if I said no, he’d call me sh-t. I never thought I’d say this but I’ll miss that. I took it as words of motivation to better myself as a player. Zak was such a positive influence to so many people, so many young ball players over the years. Zak was on a level of his own, a level of legends. He will be missed but never forgotten.      
 
R.I.P Zak
 
Mark Pereira #23
 
 
 

"Zak you were one of the first people Paul told me about on his baseball team. Be nice to him and if you want to get on his good side, compliment the park. It's his baby,

 

I always had a smile and a hi for you and you always made sure to visit with me a bit. The kids loved you like family. Big Zak this and Big Zak that. you would have thought they went to the park to visit with you vs watching dad play.

 

In shock that we lost you so soon. They better have an amazing field up there for you to take of. Til we meet again."

 

 

 

 

Stephanie Freeman

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Remembering Coach Zak by David Quattrociocchi

 

February 25, 2019

|

David Quattrociocchi

 
 

 

It is with great sorrow that we advise of the passing of long time York and West Toronto coach Pete Zakkak, affectionately known as Zak.  Our deepest condolences to the Zakkak family and the extended families of West Toronto and York Baseball.

 

Zak was a well known groomer working for the city of Toronto. His skills were sought after by many leagues as he was meticulous with his passion to make ball fields look good. He also maintained Keelesdale Park for the past 20 years. He learned the skills for field maintenance from Mike Ohara and Bob Smyth. Mike Ohara, who maintained Keelesdale Park, took Zak under his wing and together they turned Keelesdale Park into one of Ontario best diamonds. Unfortunately, Mike Ohara passed away in 1999, but Zak carried on his legacy. He changed the name of the York “Big 8” Tournament, into the “Mike Ohara Classic”. While being the President of York Baseball and with the help from the Toronto Blue Jays, they were awarded a grant which assisted in the renovations of Smyth Park.

 

In 2019, Zak was the head coach of the York Blue Jays 18u and West Toronto Baseball 16u teams. Zak coached at York and Etobicoke starting in the early 90’s. He taught many great players and a few who have gone on to Major League careers, such as Joey Votto, Shawn Hill, and George Kottaras.

 

In 1985, after graduating from Weston Collegiate, he went on to play college baseball in Visalia, California. He was one of the first Canadians to travel to the US for baseball and opened the door to so many more. At that time, Zak also started working with the Toronto Blue Jays, as a clubhouse attendant and became friends with Rance Mulliniks, who was born in Tulare California, a few miles from where Zak went to college. Zak was welcomed into the Mulliniks home and said that he once dated his daughter. During his time with the Blue Jays, Zak became friends with many players such as, Jesse Barfield, Roberto Alomar and Carlos Delgado who nicknamed him “Bakers Dozen” because 13 was Zak’s favourite number. Zak continued playing baseball into his 40’s, with the York Diamonds and still holds many offensive records.

 

Zak was a memorable character and will be remembered fondly by all. Hero's get remembered, but legends never die.

 

#Forever13

 

 

 

 


Diamonds Celebrate Career of Dave Quennell

August 25, 2017

 

Tonight the York Diamonds retired the number 39 of former MSBL president Dave Quennell. Quennell's perseverance to promote adult baseball in the west end of the city meant that hundreds of players over the years were able to get a chance to keep playing the game they love. The last two remaining franchises from the MSBL, the Diamonds and Metro Mets then took to the field for a highly entertaining game. Marshall Irving threw well for the Mets and Kevin Horton came tantalizingly close to his second straight no-hitter for the Diamonds. York had a 3-0 lead through six innings as Eric Foley drove in two runs and Justin Williams plated another. Horton was almost perfect through six with the only baserunner being a painful hit by pitch for Vince Novielli. In the 7th Horton tired a bit as Martin Trambulo walked which was followed by an Alex Gale triple. Chris Hastings grounded out to score Gale and make it 3-2. Clint Jeon then singled to centre and one out later Justin Cruz singled. Eric Foley was then called in to try to close out the game. Two stolen bases put the tying run at third and the go-ahead run at second. Foley then got the last batter to swing through a high fastball preserving the win. A great crowd was on hand to witness the game and participate in the jersey retirement ceremony, including players from 10 different former MSBL franchises - Sentinel Devils, Vaughan Expos, Mississauga A's, Mississauga Knights, Team Cuba, Mississauga Falcons, Toronto Cardinals, Mississauga Colt 45s, Metro Mets, and York Diamonds. Current OSBA members Mississauga Southwest Twins, Mississauga Braves, and Royal York Cardinals were also represented.