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Batter Up, Play Ball!

Baseball and softball were enjoyed by Wolfville–town and students alike. There is some evidence that baseball was played at Acadia as early as 1878; in 1888, Wolfville had a baseball club which played other area teams. One of the members/players was J.F Herbin, a local jeweller and optician. Between 1900 and 1914, there was at least one town team and after WWI, a Wolfville team played in the Valley League for two years. In 1923, there was a league in Wolfville with three teams– East End, West End and the Hill.

Acadia University students played interclass baseball from the 1890s when spring weather permitted play. Some years, there was intercollegiate play, as in 1904 when “on Monday following the Field Sports, before a very small crowd, the Base-Ball nine played their first and only college match of the year against the team of the University of New Brunswick.” In 1905, Acadia played the Crescents of Halifax and, in spite of little team practice, they won 12 to 5, to “repeated applause from the bleachers.” The on again, off again nature of baseball as a varsity sport continued to 1950, though most springs saw male students playing in an interclass league.

By 1931, there were softball leagues for women as well as men in Wolfville as well as in larger Nova Scotia centres. Softball was popular in the 1930s; lower costs were a big factor. The softball field was smaller, shoes did not have spikes and only the catcher and pitcher could use gloves. All that was needed was a ball, a bat, a field and enough people to field two teams. Softball was often played at community events and picnics by boys and girls, men and women. Wolfville had several fields where residents could play each other in informal games. While there is no records of girls playing competitively either at Wolfville School or Acadia University, they did play in pick-up games in town.

In June 1931, the Acadian reported that a group of men had met “to organize a town base ball league using the soft ball. As a start three teams have entered, Baptist, United [Church] and Church of England. It is expected that the Bankers may enter a team....The first game will be played between the Baptists and the United on Monday evening next. The game will start off at 6:30 sharp and it is hoped that there will be a good attendance of spectators. The field being used is the old soccer field back of Dr Patterson’s residence.” The Bankers did not, in the end, enter a team; the league’s fourth team was known as “the Married Men” and the league’s honorary president was Vern Eville. The 9 July paper reported that the Baptists had defeated the Married Men 21-11 with Reg Lightfoot pitching for the Baptists. In August that year, a team of players from the league including Reg Lightfoot and Neil Sanford played two games in Halifax, winning both. The Wolfville team played further matches that summer against other town teams. By 1938 the Wolfville had a regular softball team called the Buccaneers. They were Valley champions and defeated Springfield, the Cumberland County champions, in provincial play-downs. Arnold Tedford caught and played third base for the Bucs who were eliminated by Stellarton, the Maritime champions.

(Acadia Athenaeum June 1904, 354; June 1905, 345; Wolfville Acadian 11 June 1931, 1)

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