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Bracebridge's Crawford and teammates inducted into Softball Hall of Fame

January 12, 2019

Bracebridge, ON - - Bracebridge's Crawford and teammates inducted into Softball Hall of Fame



Michael Crawford holds up his 1996 Canadian championship ring. This win was one of the contributing factors behind his and his 1993-96 Toronto Gator teammates induction into the Canadian Softball Hall of Fame. - Mary Beth Hartill/Metroland

 

ORIGINAL STORY by Mary Beth Hartill Bracebridge Examiner

 

BRACEBRIDGE — Michael Crawford stood with his 1993-96 Toronto Gators brothers as they were inducted into the Canadian Softball Hall of Fame.

“It’s incredible,” said the Bracebridge native. “It sums up all of our experiences that we’ve been through.”

The team is now recognized as one of the best Canadian softball teams of all time. They were inducted in Montreal on Nov. 10. The 1993-96 Toronto Gators won the International Softball Congress in 1993, winning the Canadian championships, and representing Canada in the Pan Am Games qualifier, where they beat the United States team three times.

 

“This year marks the 25th anniversary of our first Canadian championship and began a four-year stretch that I truly believe left an indelible mark on the sport, both on and off the field,” said coach Terry Baytor, during his induction ceremony speech. “A team that generated a fan interest that was unparalleled in the 1990s and has not been seen in the decades that have followed.”

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Crawford was pitching with the Owen Sound Tiremen when he was scouted by team-owner and sponsor Jack Fireman in 1993.

“The hardest part was Jack wasn’t there,” said Crawford, referring to the ceremony. “The best part has been experiencing it with this great group of guys over the last 20-plus years.”

Now they're considered an "old-timers," but Crawford is still playing with many of the same players at tournaments across North America.

The competitive edge has dwindled some because, as Crawford puts it, “Everybody’s hurting from playing at that top level.”

“There’s still about 11 guys from that team playing,” he said. “The guys who are hurting too much to play come and watch. We have 15 to 20 people always attending when we play.”

Crawford is now a vice-president with the Ontario Softball Association and assistant coach with the Team Ontario girls and boys teams. Crawford was inducted into the Ontario Masters Softball Hall of Fame in 2016.

“We’ve played competitively for so long and put so much into the game, and in the last 10 years the game has been paying back,” he said. “It just keeps on paying back in terms of exciting things happening.”

 

by Mary Beth Hartill

Mary Beth Hartill is a reporter with the Bracebridge Examiner.

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