Langdon Critch remembered
Well-known softball enthusiast with love for outdoors passes
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.