Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Cupid hits homer at ballpark

Scoreboard proposal works

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When Mary Thibodeau arrived at Canwest Park on Wednesday night, she thought she was out for a nice night at the ballpark with her squeeze, Ben Thiessen.

But when she found out there were 36 relatives from their respective families gathered in Suite 9, she got a bit suspicious.

Those suspicions were confirmed when ballpark PA announcer Ron Arnst read out the message on the scoreboard: "Mary, Would You Marry Me? Love Ben," to the cheers of 5,278 Goldeyes fans.

"It was awesome," a blushing Thibodeau, 62, said afterwards. "It started when I got here and all the kids were here."

Game-day proposals aren't all that uncommon -- Goldeyes management estimated they see one or two a year -- but this had to be one of the most touching.

Thiessen and Thibodeau had been neighbours for 12 years and within the last three, both lost their long-time spouses. Thibodeau had been married more than 30 years, Thiessen more than 50.

After a couple of years on their own, Mary's granddaughter, Chelsea, decided to play Cupid.

"One day at McDonald's, she called me over," Thiessen said. "She said, 'You know Grandma's name is Mary.This is her phone number.' "

The little green Post-It note with her number is still prominently displayed in his wallet.

"So I asked (Chelsea), 'Well, hasn't she already been, you know, asked?' And she said, 'She's waiting for you to call her.' "

So in January he did just that, asking her to a banquet dinner at the Fort Garry Hotel. Just over six months later, the Thiessens and Thibodeaus from across four generations gathered to celebrate Wednesday night's big moment.

"It was great," said Thibodeau's son Tim, in town from Trail, B.C.

"I didn't know that was going to happen!" added her young grandson Shane, from Cranbrook, B.C., while he indulged in some ballpark snacks.

Most important was Thiessen's revelation to a lucky reporter who just happened to be in the right place at the right time.

"Oh, and she did say yes," he said.

andrew.evans@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 22, 2010 C2

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