Memories of Little League in this week’s Doug Out
Seems a shame that baseball had to end so soon . The weather has been great hot and humid , just perfect for a sweaty game of baseball. Not too much happening in minor baseball this past week around here , all the provincial finals are finished, the westerns are finished the only thing left is the nationals and I don’t know of any of our local kids going to it. All the Elk Point minor ball equipment was packed up into the sea can this past week for the winter. Pitching machine, tees, and other special batting tools along with our nets, shovels rakes, bases and uniforms etc. The sea can has been terrific for storing everything, keeps it dry and away from the mice. A little spooky for a mouse if it ever did get locked in there! Too soon to talk about hockey and nothing new to report in our part of the world so we have to dig into our history books; which I like to do from time to time around this time of year.
Recently, I was reading in the paper about a Little League team from B.C. representing Canada going to Williamsport for the Little League World Series. Sounds like they have been there before. It reminded me of my playing days in Little League in Ancaster, Ontario. When I was a young lad of 11 and 12 years old, only about half a century ago, I lived in the country two miles outside of Ancaster Ontario, which is now part of Hamilton Wentworth, but still Ancaster to all of us who grew up there. All the little towns down there are getting gobbled up by the big cities but they all still have their own ball diamonds, and their pride. About 99 percent of them have lights on them because it gets dark so early in that part of the county.
You know what they say’ If you build it they will come. ‘ And they did build it. Spring Valley is the home of the Little League Park in Ancaster and Ancaster is the home of the world T Ball Championships every August . They even have a set of rules called Ancaster Rules. Go ahead look it up. I was told many years ago that a gentleman in Ancaster invented the game, but when I googled it to find his name I found out it was invented in the USA in 1957 by some other guy. That’s according to google, but its’ the same thing they say about hockey, seems like every country can claim they invented it, but we all know who perfected it! Ask Don Cherry if you don’t believe me!
When I was a kid every year on Victoria Day we would parade down main street with our ball teams, horses, bands, floats ect. and end up at Little League Park. It was built down in the valley by some veterans after returning from W.W. 2. The rest of the day and into the evening we would play ball games, each team in the league had a game. We had about 6 teams of Little League at that time so likely about 3 games that day. That’s how they kicked off the season. Then later that night they would top it off with fireworks. I played on the Braves, but we also had Yankees, Cardinals etc.
My biggest highlight was hitting a home run over the fence. Back then if you hit a ball over the fence you would get a free steak from Ancaster Meats. They had a sign on the fence “Ancaster Meats Hit a Home Run and receive a free steak”. I only got one home run. One of my buddies Jack Hay hit home runs every game, sometime two or three, he must have fed his whole family, and likely still holds the record for home runs. His dad who was also called Jack Hay was one of our coaches and had a big old station wagon. He would pack the gear in the back after practise or games. One time when he closed the back hatch, he cut the end of his thumb off. My dad picked it up and took him to the hospital but they weren’t able to put it back on. We remained friends for many years after that, but both Jack’s have passed away now.
After Little League I played Senior Little League for a few years from the time I was 13 to 15 and even picked the name of our team. We called ourselves the Mustangs. Everyone wanted one back then; Ford just brought them out and they were an instant sensation . Our coach Doug Patton had a Mustang convertible and he would somehow load up the whole ball team and drive through down town Hamilton with us hanging out all over the place, down to the ice cream place. Didn’t have any seat belt laws back then and I don’t think we won many ball games, but we sure did have fun!!
And now for the K.A. Campbell quote of the week. ‘ I had some friends here from North Carolina who’d never seen a home run; so I gave them a couple.’ -Catfish Hunter MLB Pitcher