I've been writing this column since 1980. I do it for two reasons, my love for the game of slo-pitch and my passion for writing. Most who know me well enough realize the juices start flowing once spring nears!
I came to town in 1978 due to a job transfer and have had opportunities to leave but never have. I got involved in the game of slo-pitch in 1979, as at that time you had to be at least 21 to play.
My passion began and grew as slo-pitch became popular in town and at one point as many as 32 teams comprised the Men's League.
Throughout the years we have suffered many losses of those I played with and against. Taking a page from a famous book made into a movie, these would be my individuals in a possible Field Of Dreams!
I'm picturing it being split into two diamonds with those from the Tillsonburg League on the main diamond while the back diamond would be graced by those from the SWOX League.
Warming up on the main diamond would be pitchers consisting of "Kid" Rick Schiedel, the always jovial Larry 'Army' Armstrong, and George Jamaul. The other half of the battery would be the tall catcher Ivan Lockey.
The infield features slick-fielding shortstop Richie Walton, at third Mike 'Beagle' Barnes, and second baseman the always talkative Donnie Parker. At first is Johnny 'Cadotty' Cadotte, always kibitzing, and Randy 'Perkins' Collens, also a jokester.
The outfielders taken way too soon are Freddie Wiebe, and one of the classiest and sportsmanlike players I've known, the diminutive Darryl Carruthers. The man in blue, all set to umpire, is one of the most respected men I've known, the always professional Steve Kyle.
The SWOX boys are being run through their paces by the field general and ultimate organizer 'Gordie' Lonsbary. Danny 'Rink' Hambleton is practicing his sky ball pitches. The captain of the infield is the well-experienced Rick Duyvenjonck, while first baseman Art 'Artie' Ruckle throws out barbs at Rob VanDenEeckhout. The outfielders, two of my former teammates, Terry Hart and Rene Cnockaert look on.
Of course you need spectators and scorekeepers and those who loved the game as well, Cindy Cnockaert and Karen Miller would be two such women.
There are others who have come and gone and we remember them too!
I find its sometimes good therapy to put a pen to paper so one night when I was remembering some friends that is what I decided to do. The thing that kept coming back to me is the friendships that I have gained came from this sport I played and the constant remains that slo-pitch is such a fibre of this community! I guess that's why I have never left.