Com­mu­nity mourns loss of gifted ath­lete

Sackville Tribune - - SPORTS/COMMUNITY - Wal­lie Sears

He was a gifted ath­lete, a de­mand­ing coach, a com­mit­ted Chris­tian and a lov­ing hus­band and fa­ther.

That is how many peo­ple knew and re­mem­ber Lloyd (Wil­lie) Mit­ton who passed away re­cently fol­low­ing a brief ill­ness.

There are few who will deny this de­scrip­tion of a man who de­picted many of the things that make for a good and suc­cess­ful life.

Born in Dorch­ester, he spent his early years there as a close friend of the fa­mous Billy Har­ris, who went on to carve out an il­lus­tri­ous ca­reer in ma­jor league base­ball. It was there that he got launched into a base­ball ca­reer than spanned more than 20 years at the se­nior level.

Wil­lie first got into or­ga­nized ball in Sackville as a mem­ber of the cham­pi­onship ju­ve­nile team. By this time he had de­vel­oped a fine wrin­kle of a curve ball to go along with his “high hard one” and later took his tal­ents to Mem­ram­cook where he and fel­low pitcher Aurele Gaudet led the Rovers to the New Brunswick cham­pi­onship, beat­ing out an im­port laden team from St. Ge­orge spon­sored by Con­nors Brothers. He also saw time with the Amherst Blue Jays and was con­sid­ered one of the top right-han­ders in the prov­ince in the late 1940s and early ’50s.

His death added an ex­cla­ma­tion mark to the end of se­nior base­ball in Sackville. He was the last sur­viv­ing mem­ber of a strong squad that in­cluded the likes of Les Gal­lagher, John Lund, Gor­don Tower, Grant Lan­ni­gan, Aldrich Lan­ni­gan, Char­lie Mcal­lis­ter and Bob Hicks. That was an era when Sackville pro­duced some out­stand­ing tal­ent and played in front of huge crowds on what is now the Moun­tie soc­cer field on Lans­downe Street.

Wil­lie gave back to the game as he took on a lead role with the lo­cal ju­nior team that peaked with a pro­vin­cial cham­pi­onship be­fore los­ing out to a pow­er­ful Hal­i­fax team in a close two-game series.

There were a lot of fine ath­letes on that team, but Mit­ton was a no-non­sense coach and de­manded dis­ci­pline as he wanted to show there should never be an “I” in any team while de­vel­op­ing boys who would go on to suc­cess­ful ca­reers.

This was proven at one point with­out any doubt.

“I went to bat with orders to lay down a bunt to move a run­ner up to sec­ond,” says David Fuller­ton. “Well, the first pitch looked re­ally good so I took a full swing but missed. I took a peak down to third and got the sign to bunt again but the ball came into my wheel­house and I put good wood on it, ended up at sec­ond with the other base run­ner com­ing home. When the in­ning was over I ran to the bench to get my glove and was told in no un­cer­tain terms to sit down.

“The coach said I had ig­nored his signs on two oc­ca­sions and that was un­ac­cept­able so I sat but that surely taught me a les­son I will al­ways re­mem­ber.”

Dur­ing the lat­ter stages of his ca­reer Mit­ton played a lit­tle fast­ball with Dorch­ester and Main Street Bap­tist Church but de­clined an in­vi­ta­tion to join the slo-pitch league.

His daugh­ter Kim said he never waned in his in­ter­est in base­ball and was a die-hard Bos­ton Red Sox fan to the end. She noted that he had be­come a fan of the Sox long be­fore for­ma­tion of the Blue Jays and never wa­vered in his sup­port.

Wil­lie Mit­ton’s real name was Lloyd but he ac­quired the name Wil­lie from the late Fode Tower, who he said called ev­ery­body the same name only it stuck and few of his mates ever knew the dif­fer­ence.

Through­out his life Wil­lie Mit­ton was a “straight shooter.” He never var­ied from his deep held Chris­tian be­liefs and this per­mit­ted him to set a high stan­dard for the young peo­ple he coached and came into con­tact with. He def­i­nitely proved to be a model cit­i­zen, one who lived a per­fectly clean life so the bar was in­vari­ably high.

While he had been un­able to con­trib­ute to the com­mu­nity in re­cent years due to poor health his ab­sence will be deeply felt, not just by his fam­ily but by the great many friends and ac­quain­tances he ac­quired over a long and pro­duc­tive life.

So it is with a touch of sad­ness we send Wil­lie Mit­ton on his way to what we hope will be an even bet­ter life. He cer­tainly earned that priv­i­lege over 84 years on earth.

DANIEL ST. LOUIS PHOTO

The Mans­bridge took place at Mount Al­li­son Univer­sity on Fri­day, Sept. 29, in the Moyter-fancy The­atre. Led by the univer­sity’s chan­cel­lor, Peter Mans­bridge, the event was de­signed to bring the chan­cel­lor to cam­pus for a day of dis­cus­sion, de­bate, and learn­ing around the cen­tral theme of Indige­nous Ac­tion — ad­dress­ing how mem­bers of the Mount Al­li­son and wider com­mu­ni­ties can best con­trib­ute to pro­cesses of en­act­ing change with Indige­nous peo­ples. Above, Natalie Sap­pier speaks dur­ing the sum­mit’s Vis­it­ing Speak­ers’ Cir­cle. The cir­cle also in­cluded Don­ald M. Julien, Imelda Per­ley, Cyn­thia Sewell and Peter Mans­bridge. Be­low, Mans­bridge lis­tens to co­me­dian and broad­caster Candy Pal­mater dur­ing an in­ter­view-style pub­lic dis­cus­sion.

SCOTT DO­HERTY – SACKVILLE TRI­BUNE-POST

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