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Re-building minor baseball in Walsingham

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Greg Smithson’s goal was to rebuild Walsingham’s baseball tradition.

And he did it with 14 local young athletes who wanted to try hardball this summer.

Years ago, Walsingham was “the place to play ball” in the township. The small tobacco farming community boasted championship teams, and a hub of baseball excitement.

Smithson who currently plays for an adult Walsingham Senators team, had the idea that he could wake up this sleepy little ball field of Walsingham that once was a “field of dreams” for their grandfathers, and probably in some cases great-grandfathers.

With sponsorship from the Long Point Lions, and assistance from ACE cleaning and BMO in Simcoe, Smithson formed a peewee baseball team. Most of the team had played some sort of ball, but not one of them had played hardball.

Dressed in camouflage baseball jerseys, and with spirited personalities, they resembled a redneck version of the ‘Bad News Bears.’

However, this underdog team rose up to the challenge with big hearts, and played to win the year-end Southern Counties D championship defeating Port Dover in the final game.

With the league title under their belts, they travelled to the Sarnia area on the Labour Day weekend to conquer the Ontario Baseball Championships in the Peewee D Division.

Smithson’s idea was for his team to enter into the OBA championships in order to gain experience playing against competitive teams.

To most everyone’s surprise, the Walsingham Senators peewees battled through five baseball games in two days to qualify for the semifinals.

The semifinal was a showdown between Walsingham and St. Marys in Courtright. After six innings of play the game was still tied 1-1, however in the 7th inning Walsingham was narrowly defeated by St. Marys in a 5-1 baseball game.

Smithson said he was very proud of the kids, as they played like they had been playing together for years.

With the baseball spirit alive again in Walsingham, Smithson hopes to add bantam and mosquito (comparable in age to atom in hockey) teams next season.

The team’s season-long cheer showed their community spirit… “GO WASLINGHAM… ‘chew tobacco, chew tobacco, chew tobacco, spit!’”

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