I learned to play baseball at Oakwood High School. Oh, sure, as youngsters we played at “sort-of” softball at Ryerson and even competed against other local rural schools – but baseball was something else. Mr. Heapy, our high school principal, had been a pretty good ball player in his day. He took the time, often at noon hour, to take the boys (no girls played “hardball” in those days) across the highway to a rough pasture field with bases and a pitcher’s mound. It was there where I, and many other boys like me, learned the basics of baseball.
I wasn’t a particularly good ball player, but enjoyed it. I played 3rd base and the outfield, usually, but my brother Lyman, like our father before us, played first base and was a pretty good hitter.
Highlights of my baseball “career” included playing ball with the Flin Flon Miners in the summers of 1952 and ’53 when I was a student working underground in the mines to earn money for the coming university term. At home on the farm I played regularly, along with Lyman, with the Kenton ball team in a league with teams from Lenore, Arrow River, Cardale, and other towns whose names I can’t recall – towns that probably don’t exist anymore. We did win first prize in the Oak Lake ball tournament in 1954 or ’55 (all of $250 for the team), when big Cec Russell from Lenore, playing for our Kenton team that day, hit a home run in the 9th inning of the final game.
When I graduated from the University of Manitoba in May of 1955 I took a job in irrigation development work in Taber, Alberta. I only worked there for 3 months, and then returned to be Agricultural Representative at Holland, Manitoba. (More about this in “Jobs”). I played baseball at Taber and one evening our team travelled to Medicine Hat to play an exhibition game – under the lights! As I stood way out in left field, I wondered what it would be like if anyone hit a ball my way. Well, someone did – a routine fly ball – and it was just like a big white balloon. Hard to miss. I caught it!
A few months later, working at Holland, Manitoba, I played a few games with “Le Club de Baseball de Notre Dame de Lourdes” – a town in the south-east corner of my district.
Years later, after moving to Qualicum Beach, B.C. in 1998, I played Slo-Pitch for a couple of seasons until knee and hip soreness was too much and I had to stop.