Family, friends, baseball enthusiasts, politicians and members of the local business community came together Thursday evening to honour Tillsonburg’s Citizen of the Year, Sam Lamb.
The annual award was presented in a special ceremony sponsored by the Town of Tillsonburg and the Tillsonburg District Chamber of Commerce, at the Tillsonburg Community Centre in the Lions Auditorium.
The evening kicked off with an announcement from Tillsonburg Town Crier Brenda Bozso, who began with the traditional ‘hear ye, hear ye,’ which soon broke into a rendition of ‘Take Me Out To the Ball Game!’ in honour ‘Mr. Baseball’ himself, to much laughter and applause from the crowd.
Close to 200 friends, family and guests shared many happy memories, cherished moments, plenty of laughter and even a few tears, during Thursday’s ceremony in honour of Tillsonburg’s 2013 Citizen of the Year, Sam Lamb.
One of those in attendance was Steve Kyle, a long-time close family friend and former baseball colleague.
“It’s really hard to put into words, but what better honour can you have than having your own peers recognize you for what you’ve done,” said Kyle, a former recipient of the citizen of the year himself (2009). “Hearing all of Sam’s honours bestowed upon him tonight, is a wonderful thing. I’m sure he feels like I do, it’s a great privilege.
Kyle recalled some great times playing baseball with Lamb.
“I was a ball player just like he was and we were with the Oldtimers – I was actually known as ‘papa junior’ at one time because I was a young guy,” he said with a chuckle. “We’ve played together and against one another at various times. We’ve been together with the Red Sox Stag that they have every year so I’ve known him for a long, long time.”
Grandson Trevor Lamb also shared a few thoughts on his grandfather’s contributions to the town and being named citizen of the year, as well as a few cherished family memories.
“It really means a lot to the family, the grandchildren and the great-grandchildren,” said Trevor Lamb. “He’s definitely the leader of our family and leads by a great example. We try and follow in those footsteps.
“We are so proud of ‘papa Sam’, as we call him, and it’s not just family members that call him that, there’s a lot of people in the community that call him papa Sam,” he added. “He’s done so much for sports in the community – he’s been very involved in developing the sport of baseball in Tillsonburg and is continuing that.”
Lamb couldn’t pinpoint any one memory that stood out for him when it came to his grandfather.
“It’s a combination of everything he does – whether it’s having the entire family over for Christmas dinners and it didn’t matter how big the family got, who was involved in the family – he always invited everybody into his house for Christmas dinners,” explained Lamb.
He noted the important role that sports and other activities have played in his family’s life – traditions that have continued from generation to generation.
“Just recently he travelled to the states with the Novice Rep team that I coached - his great-grandson Travis was on the team. He spent the entire weekend watching hockey when we played in the International Silver Stick in Michigan,” added Lamb. “He had three great-grandchildren on that team and didn’t miss a game – it’s just moments like that, that mean a lot.”
Deputy Mayor Mark Renaud spoke on behalf of the Town of Tillsonburg at the Citizen of the Year presentation ceremony.
“It’s really important I think for us to celebrate the people who have been pillars of our community over a number of years and have contributed in so many different ways,” said Renaud. “I served on town council with Sam for seven years and I got to know Sam very well – not through sports, but through his role in governance and his role in council.
“He’s a man of very modest means, never got upset, never complained about anything and I thought he served the people very well,” he added.
Speeches recognizing Lamb were given by local church ministers, politicians such as deputy mayor Mark Renaud, Haldimand-Norfolk MPP Toby Barrett (filling in for Oxford MPP Ernie Hardeman) in addition to several friends and family members.
Finally, all eyes were fixed on the man of the hour and Citizen of the Year Sam Lamb, when it was time for him to take the stage.
Towards the end of his speech, Lamb paused for a moment and then concluded the evening with these words.
“To those who have placed their trust in me as their councillor, coach, teammate, manager, friend and especially to the nominating committee of David Beres and Marcel Rosehart sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce with the leadership of Suzanne Renken - a very big salute goes to each and every one. This also includes tonight's cast of speakers, presenters and you as guests - you all know who you are, thank you.
“I am very blessed as you have touched my life and I am truly grateful for this honour bestowed upon me,” said Lamb holding back tears. “It is a true privilege and distinct honour to accept this recognition as Citizen of the Year. One last word I wish to leave with you - is to remember that every day is a gift and the quality of your life is your gift to yourself.”