News Stories

Summerside, PEI – Queen Elizabeth Park - A Footnote by Al Doran

August 9, 2016

Richmond Hill, ON - Summerside, PEI – Queen Elizabeth Park - A Footnote by Al Doran



A FOOTNOTE: by Al Doran of www.AlsFastball.com

Summerside, PEI – Queen Elizabeth Park

With this week’s national under-21 women’s fastpitch championship being held in a freshly upgraded Queen Elizabeth Park in Summerside PEI, it brought back great memories to me of my trip there for the 1994 ISC World Tournament.

Follow Twitter.com/JpsportsJason this week from Summerside.

 

 

I often say this is where it all began for me. Yes, I had seen a lot of fastball in many parks over the years, the old diamonds at home in Windsor, NS; Carlington Park in Ottawa and the diamonds at the Napean Sportsplex; Hillside Park in Waterloo, for the first time in 1990 for an OASA Elimination; most certainly the historic home of the 1972 World Champion Richmond Hill Dynes, Town Park in Richmond Hill, ON where I spent many an evening in the early 1990’s watching ball. Someone at Town Park used to tell me if I really wanted to watch the best ball, I should go to the annual ISC World Tournament.

And in 1994 I did just that. It was almost impossible to find out anything about any softball in those days, even big tournaments and that certainly included the International Softball Congress (ISC) and their annual World Tournament.

My big push came in 1994 when MLB went on strike and I was left holding about 20 pairs of tickets to the Blue Jays games that never got played. I was in need of a ball fix, be it softball or hardball, it did not matter. On a whim, I called my sister in Nova Scotia; she had said something about my nephew going to Summerside, PEI for some sporting event or another. At the time, I thought it may be related to the old Summerside PEI RCAF Station that I had flown into and out of many times and had stayed at on a couple of occasions. 

My sister said something was going on in Summerside that summer and gave me the phone number of a family friend, Mark Smith in Halifax to call. I made the call. I had no idea who Mark Smith was at that time. Mark was very helpful and provided me with a phone number of the hot line for the group hosting the 1994 ISC World Tournament. These people were amazing. Within minutes they had sold me a reserved seat behind home plate, Row 1, Seat 1. They reserved me the lowest priced cabin in a motel just outside of town and they connected me to a car dealership who would rent me a car at a price way lower than any of the big rental agencies. I was all set, just had to use some air miles to book my flight on Air Canada.

I was still working for a living at that time, so I booked two weeks off of work from my job at York University. This was two years before I started my own consultancy and had a bit more freedom on when I travelled, etc.

Even my flight east was eventful. As always I had reserved an aisle seat. I get on the big wide bodied jet in Toronto; I think it was configured 2, 5 and 2 and I was in the aisle seat, two seats near the window. Sitting next to me was a very delightful and beautiful young lady. We introduced ourselves and she said she was from Midland. Stupid, me, I thought she meant Midland, Ontario. She then introduced her boyfriend sitting in the aisle seat right across the aisle from me. It was the young pitcher from New Zealand, Jarrod Martin. Jarrod of course was travelling with his team the Midland Explorers, from Midland, Michigan.

I wish I could remember who else Jarrod was travelling with, probably Shultzy and Steve Horning, but I will leave it to them to confirm or deny. Also on this big jet where a ton of other players I had never heard of but would know quite well over the next ten days.

That trip flashed back to me last week when I had the pleasure every day of watching Jarrod Martin coaching his young squad from New Zealand in the Junior Men’s World Championships in Midland, Michigan. He and Thomas Makea did an outstanding job with the Junior Black Sox. New Zealand has a great future with both players and coaching staff of this calibre.

If you are making the trip to Quad Cities this month, be sure to take in the Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony on Sunday, August 14. Those two fine ball players, Jarrod Martin and Thomas Makea will be inducted into the ISC Hall of Fame along with their team mate and coach, Chubb Tangaroa. Our own Todd Martin from Ontario will be inducted that morning along with well-known umpire Tom Boyd. The Bob Welby Memoria will be awarded to The Dolan Family for their dedication to the sport and to the ISC. Congratulations to all of them!

We landed in Halifax and moved to a couple of DC-9’s for the trip over to Charlottetown. In the Halifax airport, it was like old home week. Players who were on our flight from Toronto meeting up from players from all over the world who were working their way to Summerside. Byron Demoe was one of the guys who were greeting everyone in the airport. I did not know who he was at the time but sure found out.

Since I had made an arrangement to get a car in Summerside, I had made no arrangements to pick up a car in Charlottetown. I figured I would just catch a bus. I ran into Island Hospitality right way at the luggage carousel. A gentleman approached me and asked “are you here for the ISC ball tournament in Summerside?” I said yes, and he loaded my luggage into his van. There was one other gentleman in the vehicle, an ISC commissioner from California. I introduced myself to him and he asked where I was from. I said, Richmond Hill, Ontario. He said he had never heard of it. I said it is the home of the 1972 World Champion, Richmond Hill Dynes. He had never heard of them or Richmond Hill. As it turns out, I was in a vehicle there for the purpose of picking up ISC commissioners as they arrived, and depositing them to their hotel in Summerside. My driver and I had quite a chuckle over that after he dropped off his one official passenger at his ISC hotel. No, the ISC passenger was not Milt Stark, Milt would have been much more engaging.

That same driver came to see me in my seat at the park every day and made sure I had a drive going back to Charlottetown from Summerside about 12 days later. The driver picked me up in his own car and he and his wife drove me to the airport when it was time to fly home. Island hospitality at its best.

I got checked into the Summerside Motel and quickly found out that one of the teams staying there was from my home town, the Windsor Legion Fastball Club. They were the early beginnings of the Halifax-Windsor Keith’s, one of my favorite all time fastball teams.

The owner of the motel asked me how I was getting to the park and I told him, I was waiting for a call from the car dealership about my rental car. He said jump into my car, I will take you. He drove me right to the front gate of QEP. More Island Hospitality.

I was carrying what was known then as “The Brick”, one of the early cell phones, big and heavy. While I was getting ready to watch my first game, it rang and someone asked, “Where are you sitting?” I told him, Row 1, Seat 1. Shortly a nice gentleman slid in beside me and introduced himself and handed me a set of keys. It was for a brand new 1994 Toyota Corolla. I asked about where are the rental papers to sign? He said, not to worry, we can do that on your way out of town. Island Hospitality.

It just keeps getting better. I end up sitting beside a husband and wife from Garden River, Ontario. They are the Aunt and Uncle of Darren Zack. Now, I must admit, in early August 1994 I had no clue who Darren Zack was, even though he had led the Toronto Gators to the ISC World Tournament championship in Kimberly, Wisconsin, just one year earlier. My knowledge level of these events rose a 100% over the next ten days.

Auntie Joan and Uncle Rick had played ball with Darren in Garden River and obviously had an enormous impact on Darren’s career in fastball and certainly his love of the game.

Bonus time. For every one of the Toronto Gators games, Darren’s wife, Charlotte, sat with us to watch Darren play. Often, if there was room little Darren would join us, along with his keeper, big brother Johnny and sister Molly. What a wonderful family! Hard to believe little Darren is now playing the game the family loves and he has four kids of his own.

When I arrived at QEP, the place was electric, lots of people, you could smell the food, and I detected hammering. They were still putting the finishing touches on the park!  But by first pitch, they were ready.  Two diamonds, back to back and I watched most games from my reserved seat at the main diamond.

The VIV idea was a great idea in Summerside, Very Important Volunteer. And there were tons of them! Well organized, well prepared, well trained, and absolutely the friendliest hosts of a ball tournament ever held before and since!

PEI, being an island, has issues with waste disposal. There is no place to put it, so, they caught on early, Recycle It! The Islanders had a different coloured bin for every conceivable type of item that could be recycled, reused or compost.  Visitors often mentioned you cannot even accidentally drop a gum wrapper; a VIP will snap it up and put it in the right bin Immediately. There was never anything on the ground! Remember, this was 1994; those of us in Ontario had not even really started yet getting serious about recycling. I have actually hard complaints this year, 2016 from local tournaments where fans were disappointed that food and drink containers were not picked up. Take a trip to Summerside and you will be amazed.

The food. Where do I start? Well, first, variety. Top level coffee outlet that was running for breakfast right through late night, and we had a lot of those.  Fish and Chips, nothing like it. Deep fried clams. The list goes on and on. If I had to rate every ISC World Tournament on food variety and quality, I would rank them:

  1. Summerside PEI – 1994
  2. Sioux City, Iowa – 1995
  3. Kitchener, Ontario – every year

Best Music:

1. Summerside, PEI - 1994

2. Every one else, not even close.

 

The Islanders had thought of everything and even if something new came up, the VIV’s quickly got together and worked out a solution.

That year, I met so many people who would have a long lasting impression on me and my involvement with the game. Two guys who were sitting up in the stands behind me were none other than Gordie Newman and Jack Ferguson. Both hard core fastball fans and great friends. Gordie sadly left us in 2004. See his memorial.   Jack Ferguson is still with us and as I understand it is on his way to Quad Cities for the ISC World Tournament and the Hall of Fame induction Aug 14

I also saw Roger May for the first time ever. Someone must have pointed him out as the ISC Commissioner from Ontario but I did not meet him until sometime later. He was always busy talking to fans, players, etc., always promoting the game. I wish I had met him earlier but count myself lucky to have met him at all. He is the most knowledgeable guy I have ever met when it comes to the history of men's fastpitch.

I also found Mark Smith and introducted myself and thanked him for directing me to the 1-800 number for the host committee, telling him that they did a great job of finding me accommodations, a car, seats, etc. Mark was pitching for Summerside at the tournament and I enjoyed watching him pitch. I quickly learned of his status as an international pitcher. I was lucky enough to travel to Venezuela with Mark in 1998 when we took the Canadian team down to participate in the Pan Am Qualifier in Valencia.

 

For the first time I got to see on the field and sit in the stands with Peter J. Porcelli II. Peter had a big influence on the game and the Tampa Bay Smokers left a lasting memory. No matter what you may think of what Peter was involved in outside the sport, he was a force to be reckoned with in the ball park.

Just about every member of the North Americans came to sit with us each day during their off time. They played for Frank LeMere and were fine young men.  They were a nice team to have at the WT for a few years, wish they would come back.

The Foley Connection!

Very prominent amongst the volunteers at the park where the Royal Canadian Legion members who came out in full kit each day to act as ushers in the large stands with reserved seating. The same to fine ladies were on duty every morning when I arrived and always had something nice to say. One day we got chatting and I learned that one of the ladies came from the other side of the Island. I commented that was a long way to travel each day. She replied that she was quite used to it as she was a few years earlier the president of the Legion on the Island. I commented, “Oh, then there is a good chance you know my uncle, he is the president of the Legion in Nova Scotia, do you know Allan Foley?” She replied, “do I know Allan Foley, DO I KNOW ALLAN FOLEY”, and proceeded to tell me the story of during World War II in England, one day the army came and took over their garden (back yard), to place a company of men and an Ack Ack Gun.  To welcome the men and make them feel at home, this lady and a friend took the men tea one day and she said she tripped over one guy having a nap. She said her best friend ended up marrying the big bloke and she was the bride’s maid. Her friend (my Aunt Aileen) married my uncle and this lady was part of the wedding!  I enjoyed sending that news home.

 

 

Everyone loved Summerside!

I met a couple of people, two couples from Toronto in Summerside at the ball park who found time to go house hunting between games. They loved the place so much that they wanted to live there full time. Both couples bought homes there in Summerside and I hope they are still there and enjoying a great live on the Island.

One of the nice features of the 1994 World Tournament in Summerside was a daily newspaper. Everyone in the park got a copy. The local paper did an outstanding job of covering the tournament both from the point of view of all the results being printed each morning to great human interest stories. Many players, fans, umpires, VIV’s, etc. were covered during the ten day s of the tournament. It occurred to me that the day after the tournament everyone would be gone so I wondered if there would be a final issue. I made my way to the newspaper the day after the tournament had ended and introduced myself and the editor told me no final issue had been planned but he loved the idea and said he would see that one was printed. Further, they came up with the idea of a package deal where a copy of each and every issue of the special paper would be made available to any fan who wanted to order one.  I have a full set of those wonderful publications someplace in a box in a closet and will dig them out some day and relive some great memories.

I hope that the players and fans in Summerside this week get to experience the same Island Hospitality I did in 1994.

Before I returned my rental car and left the island, I did manage to squeeze in some side trips after the World Tournament. I spent a cay in Charlottetown and saw the location where our leaders came together and agreed upon setting up this great country, Canada. A lady from the provincial legislature was at the World Tournament all week and she had given me some tips on things to see.

I also managed to squeeze in a Lobster Supper in a nearby town, amazing, wish it was a closer drive, would be back often.

Highlight of the trip post World Tournament was a visit to Lennox Island, a nearby Mi'kmaq community. A lady who ran the gift shop had been in Summerside all week and I could not help but notice her beautiful t-shirts and sweats, so paid her shop a vist and picked up a beautiful hand painted t-shirt. I also drove around the community and visited the community centre. A very memorable trip indeed.

 

 

Your friend in Fastball, Al Doran

Al's Fastball News
EMAIL:
fastball@pmihrm.com - for all news items for AlsFastball
aldoran42@yahoo.com - for ALL Large Fastball attachments
NEWS: http://www.AlsFastball.com/
FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/alsfastball
TWITTER: http://twitter.com/AlsFastball/

Website Director for International Softball Congress 1999-2015
http://www.iscfastpitch.com/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

OUR SPONSORS

TRENDING NOW
@alsfastball
FRIENDS OF AL'S FASTBALL