Shorto’s legacy of strength
BEN Shorto’s promising baseball career may have been tragically cut short but his influence will long remain integral to clashes between his two former WA clubs, Gosnells and Melville.
Shorto was just 23 when he lost his battle with cancer last month after an extraordinary life of strength – on and off the ball park.
The talented junior from Gosnells was famously signed by Major League Baseball’s Cleveland Indians before his initial diagnosis, and won a national championship with Perth Heat in 2015 after incredibly returning to the game he loved as a pitcher.
WA’s baseball fraternity, led by close friend Josh Silvi, rallied earlier this month for a tribute day at Tom Bateman Reserve in Thornlie.
On the day Thornlie played host to State League ATWELL College Education Support Centre students earned a new piece of silverware for their school after taking out an interschool soccer competition.
The Atwell team was crowned division 2 champions after a dominant performance at the recent 2018 Education Support South Network (ESSN) Soccer Carnival in Cannington.
Cannington Community ESC student support coordinator and event organiser Bernardo Dewey said a successful inaugural competition in 2017 meant it had returned bigger and better, with a dozen teams representing seven schools rivals Melville and a big crowd turned out to help to raise more than $2000 for Lymphoma Australia.
Among those watching on were former teammates and representatives from Perth Heat and other State League clubs, along with Ben’s friends, former schoolmates and of course, his family.
Ben’s sister Emma threw the ceremonial first pitch, players wore special No.29 caps and a perpetual trophy for the best player was struck as a tribute.
“To me, it wasn’t about who won the game, so I decided in three divisions.
“It was a fun day where all the students were interacting and supporting each other in a positive and inclusive to create an MVP award,” Silvi said.
“Ben always wanted to be the best player on the field so it was appropriate.”
Daniel Schmidt, who had played alongside and coached Shorto, was the inaugural winner.
Silvi said the tribute day started from a desire to personally honour his mate, but it quickly grew into a special day for many.
“With the season approaching I knew that it would be tough to get back out to baseball without Ben by my side,” he said.
“I wanted to make this manner and the feedback from staff, students and parents was fantastic, so this drew us to run it again in 2018,” he said.
“Atwell College and John Tonkin College ESC had the chance this year to be part of the soccer competition and they won the division 1 and division 2 trophy. Every student, regardless of their gender, ability, or ethnicity was encouraged to have a go.”
The WA Disabled Sports Association (WADSA) was also at the event, running inclusive games for students with higher needs. day for everyone else, but mainly for the family.
“Ben’s family was always very involved with baseball, but with Ben’s passing they are not going to just come down to a regular local club game.”
He said their close friendship started from playing together on junior representative teams.
“I remember when Ben made his first state team in under-14s and I was in the under-16s,” Silvi said. “He always looked up to us other guys because he was so far advanced from other guys in his age group.”
Silvi said Shorto had the world at his feet when he played World Cup baseball for Australia at under-16 and under-18 level and caught the eye of US scouts.
“He signed with the Indians and it was that initial physical exam where they found the cancer,” Silvi said. “He came straight back to Australia, beat it twice, and three to four years on he got back to the US to play.
“He got to play one game before he was released.”
Shorto’s cancer came back and while it left him weaker, it didn’t diminish his love for baseball. Playing for Gosnells and Perth Heat, he reinvented his game as a pitcher.
“In that season when he was pitching he went on to win a championship and he pitched in Game 3 in Adelaide, so he was very much a part of that championship team,” Silvi said. “It just shows you the raw talent that he did have.” FREMANTLE is in the box seat to record another twoday match victory after a strong performance on day 1 of its WA Premier Cricket game against BayswaterMorley.
With home field advantage under their belt but missing big names in Mitchell Marsh, Ashton Turner and Jhye Richardson, Fremantle was sent in to bat.
They immediately began putting runs on the board and despite wickets falling steadily, a middleorder stand from Daniel Kennedy (59 runs), Chris Davenport (40) and Bayley Holman (35) helped Fremantle to a total of 187.
It was in the bowling attack where Fremantle did most of the damage as Josh Chojnowski ripped through the top order on his way to 3-26 to have Bayswater-Morley stutter to 5-69 at stumps.
In the South Metropolitan Cricket Association, the game between neighbouring clubs Cockburn and Hilton Palmyra is evenly poised after Hilton Palmyra notched up 161, including 54 from Simon Bierwirth.
Chris Scenini and Troy Evans did most of the damage with the ball, taking three wickets apiece.
Phoenix have a small total to defend in their match against SJ Blues.
After being sent in to bat first, Phoenix managed just 125 before being bowled over, with Barry Savage and Craig Stewart doing most of the scoring with 43 runs each.
A batting collapse from East Fremantle against Bicton Attadale has seen them go from being in the box seat for a win to struggling to survive.
Four ducks to end the Bicton Attadale innings saw them fall for 103, but a complete collapse from East Fremantle’s top order saw them reach just 5-27 at stumps.