A soft­ball up­swing in Win­ter­ton

Lower Trin­ity league help­ing re­vive a game that once en­er­gized the town

The Compass - - OPINION - BY TERRY ROBERTS THE COM­PASS

There was a mix­ture of ex­cite­ment, pride, nos­tal­gia and emo­tion on dis­play at the soft­ball field in Win­ter­ton on July 9, and no one sym­bol­ized this bet­ter than Mar­jorie Pow­ers.

Lean­ing against the dugout, peer­ing through an open­ing in the fenc­ing, Mar­jorie in­tensely fol­lows the ac­tion as young boys and girls — many of them play­ing the game for the first time — re­peat­edly step to the plate and take swings at the ball placed atop the tee.

She flashes a sat­is­fied smile and her eyes widen as Bri­anna Mans­field of nearby Hant’s Har­bour con­nects on her swing and is di­rected down the first base line by vol­un­teer Cory Tiz­zard, who side-steps along­side her and pumps his arm to­wards the base.

Screams of ex­cite­ment and cheer­ing en­sue as Bri­anna sprints en­thu­si­as­ti­cally, her pony­tailed hair lash­ing the air with ev­ery stride.

The scene is like a breath of fresh air for Mar­jorie, whose mind drifts back many years to the days when this rough and ready field was a fo­cal point in the community. She’s also re­minded of her late son, Kevin Pow­ers, whose name is promi­nently dis­played on the bill­board just be­yond the left-field fence.

Kevin was a fine young ball player — some at the field de­scribed him as an in­spi­ra­tion — who spent many hours on the field be­fore dy­ing trag­i­cally in a drown­ing ac­ci­dent in 1975. He was just 15 years-of-age.

As a trib­ute, the field was named in his hon­our.

As such, there was no doubt that Mar­jorie would be here on this bright, pleas­ant evening. It’s the launch of the new Lower Trin­ity Soft-

I’m so glad to see things go­ing on

here again. I’m very proud of Stephanie (Pow­ers Green) and her group for get­ting it started.

— Mar­jorie Pow­ers

ball League, and the be­gin­ning of a grass­roots ef­fort to re­vive a game that once dom­i­nated sum­mer re­cre­ation ac­tiv­i­ties in the town, and on sev­eral oc­ca­sions put Win­ter­ton — a town of less than 500 — on the map provin­cially at var­i­ous fast-pitch com­pe­ti­tions in the 1970s and 80s.

But the field has been dis­com­fort­ingly quiet over the years, and had fallen into dis­re­pair. It’s been many years since fast­pitch has been played in the town, and even the recre­ational slo-pitch game that took over af­ter its demise had faded.

That all changed last week. The sounds of the game re­turned to the Kevin Pow­ers Memo­rial Ball Park, with play­ers of all ages and abil­i­ties, from Heart’s Con­tent to Hant’s Har­bour, tak­ing to the spruced-up field.

“I’m so glad to see things go­ing on here again,” said Mar­jorie. “I’m very proud of Stephanie (Pow­ers Green) and her group for get­ting it started.”

Asked what Kevin might think, Mar­jorie replied with a smile: “Top of the cloud.”

Mr. Soft­ball

Up to last week, some 100 area res­i­dents had signed up to play, in­clud­ing many adults who hadn’t swung a bat or thrown a ball in many years, en­sur­ing there will be plenty of laughs and a few sore bod­ies fol­low­ing Fri­day evening play.

The mo­ti­va­tion be­hind the new league was pretty sim­ple — pro­vide an out­let for young peo­ple to en­joy the game, and help build spirit and unity in the community.

It’s hoped the new league can mir­ror the suc­cess of a youth soc­cer pro­gram started re­cently in Hant’s Har­bour, which also draws par­tic­i­pants from throughout the re­gion.

League pres­i­dent Sheila Nor­ris never expected such a large re­sponse, both from par­tic­i­pants and the busi­ness community.

“It’s heart­warm­ing to see ev­ery­body here,” Nor­ris stated.

One of the high­lights of the league launch was a visit by “Mr. Soft­ball,” Win­ter­ton res­i­dent Bill Ja­cobs, who was given the hon­our of throw­ing the cer­e­mo­nial first pitch.

Ja­cobs is now in his 70s and uses a walk­ing cane, but his con­tri­bu­tions to soft­ball in the area are well known. His play­ing days ended at age 47, largely be­cause of the ef­fects of di­a­betes, but he um­pired for many more years.

Ja­cobs was de­lighted to be in­vited, and brought smiles to many by singing his sig­na­ture song, “Take me out to the ball game,” which is the un­of­fi­cial an­them for base­ball. And Ja­cobs sure looked the part, wear­ing a new Toronto Blue Jays jacket and hat.

He even sim­u­lated throw­ing a fast­pitch, de­spite the arthri­tis in his shoul­der.

“It’s like a re­vival. It’s be­ing born again,” Ja­cobs said when asked what he thought of the new league.

When asked how he felt about be­ing called Mr. Soft­ball, Ja­cobs re­moved his dark glasses and stated: “They can call me worst things.”

Soft­ball ac­tion now takes place on the field ev­ery Mon­day, Wed­nes­day and Fri­day evening.

Ja­cobs said there were times he would turn away from the ball park as he drove by, not want­ing to see the de­serted field. He’s thrilled that it’s back in use.

ed­i­tor@cb­n­com­pass.ca

Mar­jorie Pow­ers was all smiles as she wit­nessed a re­vival of soft­ball ac­tion at the field in Win­ter­ton last week. The field is named in hon­our of her late son, Kevin Pow­ers, who died in 1975 at age 15. Right: Shown here are, from left, Michael Green, Stephanie Pow­ers Green, Sheila Nor­ris and Lori His­cock.

The four are re­spon­si­ble for es­tab­lish­ing the newly formed Lower Trin­ity Soft­ball League in Win­ter

ton.

From left, vol­un­teer Shan­non Ash, first base­man Is­abella Green, run­ner Kody Bran­ton and Blake Wil­liams.

The man known in Win­ter­ton as Mr. Soft­ball, Bill Ja­cobs, sim­u­lates a fast­pitch windup dur­ing the open­ing day of the Lower Trin­ity Soft­ball League. Ja­cobs threw the cer­emo

nial first pitch.

Chloe Ge­orge (right) and Erin Reid stand to­gether in the in­field dur­ing a game of tee­ball in Win­ter­ton last week.

Myr­tle Hef­ford (left) of New Per­li­can and Stephanie Pow­ers Green watch some of the ac­tion at the Kevin Pow­ers Memo­rial Ball Park in Win­ter­ton last week. Myr­tle was on hand to see her grand­son, Cay­den Hef­ford, play

soft­ball. Pow­ers Green helped or­ga­nize the newly formed Lower Trin­ity Soft­ball League.

The soft­ball field in Win­ter­ton is named in mem­ory of the late Kevin Pow­ers, who died trag­i­cally at the age of 15 in 1975.

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