History of Softball New Brunswick Inc.
Softball, a most popular sport, had its
origins in the mid 1920’s in New Brunswick. At the time it was commonly known
Teams were made up of older men considered too
slow afoot for baseball or younger players waiting for their opportunity to
break into the lineups of the older game.
Organized softball started in 1926 with the
formation of the New Brunswick Softball Association, later changed to Softball
New Brunswick Inc. in 1984.
The early years saw the majority of teams come from the Fredericton – Moncton – Saint John triangle with the Annual Meeting usually held in Sussex.
In the beginning there was only one category, that being senior. It wasn’t until 1957 that the Intermediate Division was introduced with a Senior “B” Division. In the 30’s softball began its phenomenal climb in popularity as leagues sprang up all over the province, which led to great rivalries. It was during this early era that each team had one bat, a new ball costing $1.00, the catcher and first baseman were the only players who wore gloves. Spectators for playoff games averaged between 1,500 and 2,000 per game. “Passing the hat” helped pay the plate Umpire $2.00 per game and the base Umpire $1.00. If there was any money left over it went to purchase a new ball for the next game.
It wasn’t until 1955, with the introduction of
the whip pitch that ball gloves were used by all players. Up until this time
the traditional figure eight windup was used by softball heavers and it wasn’t
until 1971 that softball teams played on lighted fields for the first
The New Brunswick Ladies Softball Association
was formed in 1943 with Mrs. Eva Steeves being elected President. In later
years they joined with the Men to form one Provincial Association, with one of
the Board Members being a ladies' delegate.
In the early 50’s the New Brunswick Softball
Umpires Association was formed out of the Baseball Umpires Association headed
by Doug Foster of Saint John.
In the late 1920’s and early 30’s, umpiring
softball games was on a volunteer basis. It was an honor to be asked to
officiate a game whether at the plate or bases. The officiating program took
off in the seventies as Softball Canada initiated numerous Canadian
Championships, International assignments and as these opportunities blossomed,
a National Certification Program, Mechanics School and Blue Convention paved
the way for an elite Officials Program.
New Brunswick leaders in the development of
these programs were Wayne Brown (1994-2004), Bob Stanton (2004-2008) and
presently Jeff Whipple (2013), all three National Director of Umpires and major
decision makers with their International Softball Federation leadership
positions. The quality and quantity per capita of New Brunswick officials who have
attained their Level V status and have officiated at National Competitions,
highlighted by Nancy Morrison at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, China has
been second to none.
Liaison between Softball New Brunswick and
Softball Canada through the early years of their relationship was through
“Commissioners”. Softball New Brunswick Commissioners were Henry Kelly
(1968-1977) and Doug Foster (1977-1988). Paul Dawson (1980-1982) served on
Softball Canada’s Board of Directors as Vice-President and presently Larry
Gould (2005) is serving his fifth two-year term with the Board.
Softball New Brunswick Inc. recognizes and honors deserving athletes, teams, officials and builders in their own Softball
New Brunswick Inc. Hall of Fame that was started in 1994 and is presently
housed at the Fredericton Inn in Fredericton, NB.
New Brunswick softballers who have gained
entrance into the Softball Canada Hall of Fame in the Builder’s category
include Charlie O’Brien (1995), Henry Kelly (1996), Paul Dawson (2002) and Bob
Stanton (2011). In the Official’s Category, Doug Foster (2002), Wayne Brown
(2006), Walter “Butch” Ryan (2008), Nancy Morrison (2014), Ron Cooke
(2014) and in the Player’s Category Sonny Phillips (1999), Wendy Dealy (2008)
and Kris Gillis (2008).
Softball New Brunswick players who have
performed on the International softball diamond include Sonny Phillips
(catcher) – Pan Am Games, San Juan, Peurto Rico (1979), Vicky LeBlanc (pitcher)
– 2000 Olympic Games, Sydney, Australia, Janiva Willis (center fielder) – Pan
Am Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and the World University Games in Bangkok,
The following teams have won Gold Medals at Canadian Championships:
Other major accomplishments of note:
Softball New Brunswick Inc., over the years, has been blessed with excellent host committees from communities such as Nelson-Miramichi, Notre Dame, St. Antoine, Memramcook, Moncton, Fredericton and Saint John when Softball Canada Canadian Championships have been hosted in the Picture Province.
Join us in 2016 as we celebrate 90 years of softball in New Brunswick.