The league was established in 1977 with 4 teams, expanding to 6 teams in 1980. A recreational slo-pitch league for men and women, ages 18+, those who could play and those who always wanted to. The early registration forms included questions such as “Can you catch a ball?” and “Can you throw a ball?” as criteria when putting a team together. Games were played in such fields as Frenchman’s Bay Public School and Woodlands Public School. With too many collisions at 1st base and home plate because we were using the “white” bases, quickly the “safe-bag” was put at 1st, home plate was replaced with a piece of 3ft x 4ft green indoor outdoor carpet and a commitment line was drawn in the sand between 3rd and home. As the season wore on, so did the carpet – the edges fraying more and more every game.
The debate at “home plate” between the batter, the volunteer umpire and the pitcher because the pitch landed on the fray was interesting and vocal. Windy days would blow the carpet away or lift the edges, often just before the pitch landed, which raised a whole other debate at home plate as to whether it would have landed on the carpet if the wind had not caused it to move. To secure the home-plate-carpet, a handful of sand or 4 rocks if they could be found would be put on the corners to keep it in place. Eventually, someone suggested “why not use a piece of board instead, then it won’t blow away?”
In the early years, the league was small but everyone knew each other and their families, meeting up every Sunday either at the baseball field, or The Owl’s Nest in West Shore, eventually at Bayly’s Restaurant in the Bay Ridges Plaza. After game parties would often go to the wee hours of the Monday morning. Camping trips were organized “at the bar” for the following weekend returning in time for the 6:00 game on the Sunday. A committee was formed, titles and roles established so not just one person had to do everything. A by-law was developed and approved for the benefit of all members of the league, clearly setting out the league’s objectives and roles of the committee members, a cornerstone to the league’s success over the years.
The annual “beerfest” began to take hold. The 3rd weekend in July…the hottest weekend of each year. We had achieved the status to use Dunmoore Park. It was like playing at the Skydome ….Word got out…membership has increased every year averaging 12 to 14 teams. The league sustains itself with its reasonable fees and costs and generous sponsorship providing the team uniforms. A central restaurant or pub remains a key ingredient to the social aspect of the league and provides an opportunity to “mend fences” with an opponent from a game just played. It is a recreational and social slo-pitch league – first and foremost. Friendly competition is healthy. Sportsmanlike conduct is a prerequisite to achieving these objectives. Team uniforms are provided with the assistance of a financial contribution from individuals or companies who agree to sponsor a team for the season.
The generosity and support of our sponsors is appreciated and collectively, we acknowledge and thank each one for their support for the 2021 season.
Let’s Play Ball!!
Chris McKenzie, WSMSP League President