HARRISTON – Members of a Midget softball crew that captured an All-Ontario championship in 1963 gathered right here on Aug. 12 to share recollections of the achievement.
On the time, Midget age group groups throughout Ontario competed in an “Open” class.
So the crew’s journey to capturing the Western Ontario Athletic Affiliation title, then the Ontario Newbie Softball Affiliation crown, required collection wins over Linwood, Sarnia, Preston, Oshawa and Burlington, earlier than the ultimate collection towards the Cache Bay Trappers, a crew representing northern Ontario.
“We performed six collection, we solely misplaced two video games,” remembers crew member Murray Coulter.
The ultimate collection was performed on the Thanksgiving weekend in 1963 on the ball park in Harriston, with the Cache Bay contingent making the journey of greater than 400 kilometres from the group, northwest of North Bay, in a mix of buses and private automobiles.
“It switched between north and south in alternate years. So this was the alternate yr that the south, which was us, grew to become the house crew,” Coulter defined.
The schedule referred to as for 2 video games on Saturday, Oct. 12 and one other if crucial the next day.
“We received each of the video games on the Saturday … pretty handily, as a result of the 2 video games had been 16-3 and 27-1. So we didn’t should play a recreation on the Sunday,” mentioned Coulter.
Whereas Cache Bay was a smaller centre – the 2021 Census pegs its inhabitants at 648 – the Harriston squad reached the ultimate by downing groups from a number of considerably bigger municipalities.
Coulter mentioned they by no means felt overwhelmed by the dimensions disparity.
“We didn’t go in considering we had been going to lose. We knew we had been an excellent crew,” mentioned Coulter.
“The coach informed us from day one which we’re a very good crew and his phrases had been ‘It’s going to take a very good crew to beat us.’”
He added, “There was no intimidation. We simply performed our recreation.
“And profitable is a superb factor, as a result of as you win you’re feeling higher and higher. I feel by the tip we didn’t suppose we may lose to anyone.”
Whereas the native facet was primarily based in Harriston, the playoff format allowed groups to select up gamers from neighbouring communities whose groups had been eradicated, so some gamers got here from Drayton, Moorefield, Clifford and Palmerston.
All the playoff pitching was executed by two gamers, Harvey Manderson and the late Wayne MacKenzie.
A newspaper report on the time notes that Coulter acquired the crew on the scoreboard in recreation one of many ultimate with a second-inning grand slam, whereas Bruce Whale and Doug Johnston additionally homered.
MacKenzie pitched your complete recreation, putting out 16 batters.
In recreation two, MacKenzie struck out 19 batters en path to tossing a no-hitter, with the lone Cache Bay run approaching an error, two walks and a fly ball.
In the meantime, the Harriston crew “pounded three Cache Bay hurlers for twenty-four hits.”
The Kitchener-Waterloo File reported in its Oct. 15 version that “About 1,000 individuals noticed the 2 video games on this city of 1,600 inhabitants.”
Newspaper stories point out the group made an event of the collection, with the native minor sports activities affiliation internet hosting a lunch for the guests on the area auditorium earlier than the primary recreation.
A baton twirling exhibition was held through the afternoon contest, with Norwell District Secondary College cheerleaders providing vocal assist for the house facet between innings.
Following the primary recreation, a brief parade headed by the Norwell band was held, with each groups, officers and dignitaries using in vehicles and wagons.
A victory parade was held after the night recreation, with the Harriston gamers boarding a hearth engine for a tour round city with the siren blaring.
The next day, a dinner was served on the Harriston Legion Corridor for members of each the native crew and the visiting group.
Beforehand, the crew held reunions on the fortieth and fiftieth anniversaries of the championship.
The Aug. 12 reunion, approaching 60 years because the huge win, concerned members of the crew gathering for lunch at a neighborhood restaurant then spending the afternoon at a Harriston Historic Society show celebrating the champions within the society’s area on the native public library.
Eight members of the group had been current, with a quantity unable to attend and three gamers (Wayne MacKenzie, Roger MacDougall and Doug Henry) and a number of other members of the teaching workers at the moment are deceased.
Requested if there have been any plans to toss a ball round after the exhibit closed, Coulter quipped, “No. We simply do tales now.”