Eastern Ontario Fastball Blog

A blog dedicated to news about the Greater Ottawa Fastball League and other happenings in the world of fastball / fastpitch softball in eastern Ontario and western Quebec, with occasional stories featuring Mrs Fitzroy Fastball, Fitzroy Fastball Junior and the Caveman. If you have info to send on, send me an email at fastball[at]fitzroyharbour.com. Follow @fitzroyfastball on Twitter.

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Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Last call for umpire - Cornwall article

By Todd Hambleton, Cornwall Standard Freeholder

Cornwall — When Cornwall’s Tom Wereley began his umpiring career, Canada's Prime Minister was Louis St. Laurent, a loaf of bread cost 19 cents, and Mickey Mantle was just reaching his prime with the New York Yankees.

Yeah, Wereley had a pretty good 55-year-run behind the plate, and it ended when the Cornwall Kinsmen Girls Softball Association held its season-ending tournament in mid-August.

“My greatest memory is just seeing all of the kids (over the years),” said Wereley, 84.

“I enjoy them all . . . I love the kids — always have.”

A lot of the kids, over parts of seven decades, have loved seeing Wereley at the ballparks in the city and region.

Mathieu Fontaine, a player and 16-year-old umpire in the Cornwall Optimist Minor Softball League, said Wereley's presence has always been appreciated.

“Before a game the kids would see him walking toward the (ball diamond), and they'd all yell, ‘Yeah, Tom’s here','' recounted Fontaine.

Philippe Roy, another 16-year-old umpire who’s received lots of guidance from the veteran, first met Wereley a handful of years ago, at Optimist mixed league games at the Bob Turner centre fields.

“He was the umpire, but he was always helping out the kids,” Roy said.

“He was there to make (the game) better — he was there for the players, coaches and parents, not just himself.
“He's a legend.”
In 1957, Wereley didn’t set out to become a “legend,” he just wanted to organize and umpire adult and kids softball leagues in what was then called Cornwall Township.

He’d end up umpiring 50 to 60 games each spring and summer in leagues in Cornwall and the region, for a total of more than 3,000 games over the years.
Wereley, a family man who started working with Cornwall Street Railway Light & Power Co. in 1948 (he would become manager of equipment and plant for what would become Cornwall Transit, retiring in 1993), coached a lot of years too, including behind the bench of kids’ hockey and broomball squads.
In 2008, Wereley was inducted into the South Stormont Hall of Fame, and the plaque sits in his den in his Cornwall home — with plenty of other memorabilia.
One of his favourite certificates is from the Ontario Municipal Recreation Association for volunteer contributions to recreation.

And there were plenty of thank-you letters that piled up over the seasons, from players and coaches.
“We're going to miss him,” said Monique Sauve-Roy, co-president of the Optimist Softball League that has players as young as age four.
“We're encouraging our younger umpires to be like Tom, to be supportive (of the players).
“As a league, we respect and back our umpires (in the calls they make), but we also want them (the umpires) to be there for the kids, to encourage the kids,” she said.
“Tom always did that — it's a recreational league.''
Wereley cut down on his workload a couple of years ago, when he stopped driving to umpiring jobs outside of the city.
And now he’s calling himself out of the umpiring game.
“I used to get to second base (to make a call) before the kid got to second base,” Wereley said. “Now I have trouble getting to the pitcher's mound.”
“It's time (to retire).”
Perhaps, but the expression gone, but not forgotten, seems to have be coined with Wereley’s impact on the local sports scene specifically in mind.



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