Lang­don Critch re­mem­bered

Well-known soft­ball en­thu­si­ast with love for out­doors passes

The Compass - - NEWS - BY NI­CHOLAS MERCER nmercer@cb­n­com­pass.ca

If you grew up play­ing soft­ball in and around the Con­cep­tion Bay North area, chances are you’ve heard the name Lang­don Critch.

You’ve prob­a­bly seen the But­lerville man mak­ing his way around the old ball­field on Play­ground Road in Bay Roberts.

The field has changed a bit since Lang­don last played and coached.

A chain-link fence has re­placed the for­est green coloured wood of the orig­i­nal out­field wall. The same can be said about the dugouts. They’ve turned from brick to chain-link. Where a sec­ond ball­field was, the Com­mu­nity Gar­dens now stands.

“(Lang­don) was al­ways around the ball­field,” said Kevin Critch, his brother.

Lang­don had an in­tense love for the game. Most evenings he would leave his But­lerville home and walk the 10 kilo­me­tre (6 miles) round trip to the field.

When he was not play­ing the game, he was coach­ing it.

“My brother loved the game, and he loved the chil­dren,” said Kevin.

Port de Grave MHA Glenn Lit­tle­john grew up watch­ing him play and learned the game from Lang­don.

But, it was not just the ba­sics of soft­ball he taught. Lang­don taught life lessons. He taught his play­ers re­spect and fair play.

“At the end, (Lang­don) taught us so much,” said Lit­tle­john.

When Lang­don coached, ev­ery­one played. It was not about win­ning, it was about play­ing.

Of­ten, once the se­nior game was fin­ished at the ball­field, a sec­ond game would be played. It is one that, per­haps, was more looked for­ward to than any other.

Score was 2-1, it was al­ways in the sec­ond in­ning and the game did not stop un­til ev­ery­one had a chance at the plate.

“They don’t come along like him any­more,” said Lit­tle­john. He treated all of his play­ers like his own. Lang­don never mar­ried or had chil­dren, but he still had a fam­ily.

“The chil­dren were his fam­ily,” said Kevin. “He was a good man and a good brother.”

Thou­sands of sto­ries

There are seem­ingly a thou­sand sto­ries about Lang­don. Many of them have been shared since his pass­ing on June 19, at the age of 82. There have been sto­ries about the way Lang­don would curl his right arm around his body be­fore re­leas­ing the ball in saucer-like mo­tion with his hand over top of the ball.

“He could throw it wher­ever he wanted,” said Lit­tle­john.

Oth­ers will re­mem­ber the black long-bar­rel bat Lang­don al­ways used.

Lit­tle­john re­mem­bers hav­ing to get to the field be­fore 6:10 p.m. in the evening. Lang­don would be hit­ting ground balls prior to the game. They say Lang­don taught chil­dren how to catch by hit­ting balls to them.

“He would put the ball in your glove to teach you,” said Lit­tle­john.

A love for the out­doors

When not at the field, Lang­don har­boured a love for the out­doors.

When ball was over for the sum­mer, he would start berry pick­ing. As the sea­son changed from fall to win­ter, Lang­don grabbed his skates and headed for one of the many ponds in the area.

But, there was one ac­tiv­ity he loved above all of them — trout­ing.

Many times he would sling his pole over his shoul­der and make what could be a 32 kilo­me­tre (20 miles) trek in search of the right fish­ing hole.

Lang­don did not have a ve­hi­cle and did not drive. That did not stop him, though.

“He put a mil­lion miles on his legs,” said Kevin.

The rim of his cap

Grow­ing up, Lang­don loved watch­ing the 1940s film se­ries The Bow­ery Boys. Set in New York, the se­ries fea­tured five mem­bers of a gang of­ten tak­ing part in a form of slap­stick com­edy while on a par­tic­u­lar ad­ven­ture.

One of the gangs’ mem­bers, Sach, also wore a cap on his head with the rim of it curled up­wards.

What­ever it was about that rolled up rim caught the eye of Lang­don. It be­came one of his trade­marks.

“(Lang­don) de­cided he would make that his,” said Kevin.

There was never a time when you would not see Lang­don wear­ing his cap.

Even ly­ing in his cof­fin, Lang­don still wore what be­came his call­ing card.

“He al­ways wore his cap,” Kevin noted.

Sub­mit­ted photo

Lang­don Critch

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