may2007

Legends Weekend in Woodstock by Darryl Smart

May 31, 2007

Woodstock, ON


 
Zack attack
 
Darren Zack, Steve Virag, Dick Parker, Dan Werby and Larry Lynch will be honoured this weekend at the Legends of Fastball Tournament
 
If past years are any indication, the Legends of Fastball tournament will be another huge success.
With a top notch, all-Ontario lineup of teams on the slate, this year’s class of inductees is as equally star-studded as past years.
 
Darren Zack has been the definitive icon for  fastball excellence and humility over the past wo decades. Nine times he’s been voted to the ISC All-World tournament team and has captured ISC world titles with the Toronto Gators, Tampa Bay Smokers and Decatur Pride. Zack has countless national and Pan-Am championships and was the ace of Canada’s national team for over a decade . In 1992, he helped Canada win the ISF world championship.
And that’s just to name a few of Zack’s accomplishments.
 
Steve Virag was a power pitching right hander with a bat to match and was the ace of his teams in Port Stanley, London, the Woodstock Tornadoes and Dorchester. Virag’s heart matched his ability and his endurance on the mound was without equal, often pitching as many as five games a day. Twice selected to pitch for Ontario teams at the Canadian Championships (1980 and 1981), he once threw a complete game, 21 inning 1-0 victory over Saskatchewan.
 
Dick Parker, a native of Ingersoll, first took up fastball at age 17 after baseball folded in his hometown. A physical giant with an imposing black beard, Parker parlayed his strength, confidence and imposing stance in the batters box to intimidate and dominate pitchers for nearly two decades. In 1972, when the Ontario Fastball League was considered the best in the world, Parker‘s defensive prowess paled in comparison to his hitting. In his first season in the OFL, the switch-hitting Parker batted .345 while patrolling the outfield for the Woodstock Warriors. He spent most of his career with the great Woodstock teams. After moving to first base continued to strike fear in opposing pitchers, while his teammates racked up title after title in tournaments and the Memorial Fastball League.
 
Dan “Doc” Werby was a natural infielder who made a legendary name for himself patrolling centre-field for his hometown Woodstock teams. The anchor of the outfield and explosive lead-off hitter defined grace, speed and hitting in a community that celebrates legendary heroes. A team leader and captain on every team he played on through three decades, Werby was a five-time OFL all star, batted in the league’s top 10 five times and twice finished runner-up to the OFL batting champ. A celebrated member of Woodstock’s great teams — Flat Tires, Hotelmen, Bengals and Tornadoes. He considers sharing the diamond with his three brothers in the hometown lineup as one of his greatest thrills.
 
Larry “Hawk” Lynch, a player, coach, manager and promoter of major men’s fastball, has dedicated nearly one third of a century to the game he loves. After  many years toiling the outfield with both Shedden and Port Stanley of the Memorial Fastball League, a career move to Kitchener resulted in a longtime successful association with the Waterloo CHYM’RS and the Waterloo Twins. Lynch has managed teams in 15 ISC World Tournaments, including seven top-10 finishes. He has won four Ontario championships, two national silver medals and in 2004 guided Saskatoon to a national championship. A true devotee of fastball, ‘’for the love of the game‘’ has driven him nearly 80,000 kilometres to ball parks. Lynch will also be honoured in August, when he becomes the first Canadian manager ever inducted into the ISC Hall of Fame.
 
 
 
 
Play ball!
The Sentinel-Review sports department takes a look at the participants in this weekend’s Legends of Fastball Tournament
 
Innerkip Eagles
 
With two fewer teams in this year’s Legends of Fastball tournament, each team is already guaranteed a Sunday date.
But Jeff Whetstone doesn’t expect that perk to change his team’s attitude.
The Innerkip Eagles manager knows if his squad lets up during the three-game round-robin, it will have to face the likes of might Orillia Sunday morning.
“It’s nice we’ll be playing on Sunday, but you want to finish high in your division so you get a weaker opponent Sunday,” he said.
Last year’s final day was a washout for the Eagles, who were victims of the rain-shortened playoffs.
Much of the same lineup is back, with the only difference some added speed. The Eagles have welcomed back Nick Dambiosio, along with recent juniors Marty Humphries (son of Pat Humphries) and Tyler Sammy, both from the Oshawa area.
“We don’t have dominating pitching or hitting,” Whetstone said. “We have to put everything together.”
 
Jarvis Merchants
After an off weekend, the Jarvis Merchants will be heading to Woodstock this weekend legendary pitcher Darren Zack. Zack, who is being honoured by the tournament committee along with four other individulals, will be replacing Brian Urquhart in the rotation for the weekend.
The Merchants are also hoping to see the return of Andrew Phibbs to the Merchants lineup. Phibbs battled through a hand and knee injury in 2006 in helping the Merchants capture a third place finish in Prince George at the senior Canadians.
Phibbs is expected to be back to full health by the time June rolls around and will be looking towards leading the Merchants back to the I-S-C World tournament in Kitchener and a shot at the Canadian Championships in St John's.
 
Kitchener Hallman Twins
The Kitchener Hallman Twins will once again be the host team for the ISC world championship tournament in August. And like last year, they want to be more than the host team — they want to be contenders.
With Todd Martin, Don Scott and lefty Paul Koert, the Twins have one of the more deep pitching rotations in fastball. Combine that with perrenial Canadian national team member Jodie Eidt, the Twins can flex offensive muscle, while the guys on the mound can shut things down.
 
St. Thomas Evergreen Centennials
The two-time Canadian champion will be bringing their revamped squad into Woodstock.
Trevor Wardell will be the focal point on the mound, while the likes of Tex Lessard and Dan Beecroft will bring some valuable experience.
Last weekend in Erie, the Centennials went 2-2, which included wins over Eklund and Asland and losses to Midland and Innerkip.
 
Orillia Riversharks
The defending Legends of Fastball tournament champions are coming back and hope to be in the form they were when they beat Patsy’s of New York in the final.
Heading into the tournament, the Riversharks are ranked No. 1 by the International Softball Congress.
The Riversharks are led by five-time national champion, three time ISC champion and longtime member of Team Canada, pitcher Frank Cox. Helping Cox behind the plate is two-time ISC champ and team canada teammate Sean O’Brien.
 
Elmira Cubs and Bridgeport Braves
While the Legends of Fastball tournament is jammed with the best senior teams in the province, three of the best intermediate teams that compete in the ISC II will also be in attendance.
The Elmira Cubs surprised everyone when they emerged as the King of the ISC II hill in 2005. They are looking to step up in the ranks and will get that chance against the big boys in Woodstock.
The Bridgeport Braves who and will again host the ISC II in Kitchener will show the fastball fans that they are just as capable of winning the ISC II title. They are a veteran team with a lot of ex-Twins in their lineup. In last year’s Legends of fastball tournament, the Braves were teh ones that ousted the Hallman Twins out.
 
Scarborough Wolverines
The Scarborough Wolverines round out the field at the Legends of Fastball Tournament. They bring with them two national junior championship banners and a reputation of consistency over the past few years. They'll have their hands full with the rest of the field but never count out speed and youth when you go up against the big teams.
 

  Darryl Smart
 519-537-2341 ext. 258
 
dsmart@bowesnet.com
 www.woodstocksentinelreview.com
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