All-Ontario softball champs reunite for sixtieth anniversary celebration

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 Beginner Softball Affiliation crown, required collection wins over Linwood, Sarnia, Preston, Oshawa and Burlington, earlier than the ultimate collection in opposition to 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 mixture of buses and private automobiles.

“It switched between north and south in alternate years. So this was the alternate 12 months 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 mandatory 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,” stated 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 stated 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 a very good crew,” stated Coulter.

“The coach informed us from day one which we’re a extremely good crew and his phrases had been ‘It’s going to take a extremely good crew to beat us.’”

He added, “There was no intimidation. We simply performed our recreation.

“And successful is a good factor, as a result of as you win you are feeling higher and higher. I believe by the top we didn’t assume we may lose to anyone.”

Whereas the native facet was based mostly in Harriston, the playoff format allowed groups to choose 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 achieved by two gamers, Harvey Manderson and the late Wayne MacKenzie.

Provincial champions – This picture of the 1963 WOAA and OASA championship Harriston Midget softball crew, taken by R. J. Russell of Listowel, was among the many shows at an Aug. 12 Harriston Historic Society exhibit on the crew’s win. From left: entrance: Kim MacKenzie (bat boy), Stan Kumagai, crew captain Bruce Whale, Roger MacDougall and Neville Leake. Center: Bert Pletch, Jim Sinclair, coach Chester Shannon, coach Invoice Dodd, supervisor Grant MacKenzie, Bob Seip and Derwyn Reuber. Again: Murray Coulter, Harvey Manderson, Wayne MacKenzie, Doug Johnston and Invoice Smith. Absent from picture: coach Scotty McLean, participant Doug Henry and crew statistician Mark MacKenzie.


A newspaper report on the time notes that Coulter obtained 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 the complete recreation, placing 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 studies 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 in the course of the afternoon contest, with Norwell District Secondary Faculty 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 driving in automobiles and wagons.

A victory parade was held after the night recreation, with the Harriston gamers boarding a fireplace 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 for the reason that massive 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 several other members of the teaching employees are actually 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.”