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CUDDY SHARK: Recalling Glenn Verge as diamond gem, storyteller

January 3, 2018

Newmarket, ON - - CUDDY SHARK: Recalling Glenn Verge as diamond gem, storyteller

     - Softball coach, sponsor led Newmarket teams into spotlight, recalls John Cudmore

Glenn Verge shows off a photo of his Newmarket Ray's from the 1980s prior to his induction in the International Softball Congress hall of fame in 2014.

- Susie Kockerscheidt/Metroland


ORIGINAL STORY by John Cudmore


Reporter John Cudmore - Mike Barrett/Metroland

It is a sports columnist’s dream when picking up a phone and dialing a reliable number means a story is about to tell itself.

It’s quite handy to have that go-to contact in a pinch.

That’s the way it was with Glenn Verge. The old softball chucker, who later became a renowned coach, manager and sponsor on the men’s fast-pitch softball scene, could spin yarns like only a handful of others we have come across over the years.

In a long ago era of weekly newspapers — 1980s, in this case — with ginormous editorial space to fill, spending an hour or more on the line with a contact was not a far-fetched notion. In this more modern era, few seem to have time for deep discussions. With time constraints, a scribe better have a few questions in mind before punching in that cell number.

Verge was among a very select few number of others could be relied upon for providing enough copy to fill up notebooks and threaten to dry out the company ink wells. Filtering was required sometimes, sure, but when it came to discussing the lighter side of chewing tobacco or great tournament rain delays of our time, or 20-something inning tournament games that ended in a 1-0 score at 3 o’clock in the morning, it provided good reading.

Verge, who was a something of an iconic figure in his sport, passed away unexpectedly Dec. 29 at the age of 77.

It had been a long while, of course, since Verge managed the Newmarket Ray’s/Nationals and challenged Ontario and Canada softball governing bodies by taking his team to Tempe, Arizona for the International Softball Congress world championships in 1980. Upon returning, the players were instantly banned from competing in Canadian championships.

It resulted in a heckuva fight with the provincial and national bodies. The day was ultimately won by local MP Sinclair Stevens who intervened and got the team, along with Grimsby Peach Kings, reinstated.

That saga was but one of the great many stories Verge could tell. There was always some sort of issue around his team whether it was left-hander Bill Lunney’s controversial pitching style. Or, the ISC issue. If there wasn’t, certainly he could pull out old stories from his travels in the softball community.

Once the Newmarket club faded away in the latter stages of the 1980s after a run as a top team in Ontario and Canada, Verge took his game to Owen Sound where he was involved with excellent teams for several years. Of course, the late nights he spent with Newmarket travelling the province with the likes of coach Bob Ritchie and other players like Garry Weston, Dan Lahey, Colin Wood among others, got much later back to his then-Mount Albert home. Never could figure out how he did manage those hours and put in a full day at the office of the moving business he owned and operated.