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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Monday, June 18, 2018

Stafford Steelers bring fastball back to town

An article from the Pembroke Daily Observer about Stafford in Laurentian Valley Township, near Pembroke, reviving minor fastball in their area. The Caveman played in their tournament this past weekend with the Kinburn Crush.

By Celina Ip

LAURENTIAN VALLEY TWP. - After more than 20 years, fastball has made a comeback and kids are ready to play ball again at Stafford Park.

Laurentian Valley’s Stafford Park had a rich history of fastball that was originally sparked and fuelled by the hard work of the late Don Nagora.
“Don started fastball at Stafford Park when he built the ball diamond. The Township had helped to pay for it, but Don had the fill hauled in and we graded it with the old grader, pulling it with his bronco,” said Vicki Hoffman, member of Stafford Recreation Council. “It was in 1985 that the diamond officially opened and Don took are of it until 1994.”
The sport was a big hit among kids, with many local residents fondly remembering their childhood days – from the 1985 through to the 1990s – of playing fastball with their teams and walking over to Brum’s Dairy to get a scoop of ice cream after their game.
Unfortunately, after Nagora passed away, interest in fastball began to fade until the sport had completely disappeared from the area by 1998.
Over the years, with kids beginning to take interest in other sports, fastball continued to fall to the wayside and Stafford Park’s ball games remained a distant memory.
It wasn’t until this past year when Stafford Recreation Council and other residents began a rousing discussion about forming a new peewee team – with Hoffman serving as the team’s manager – and bringing Stafford Park back to life.
“For a long time, we were short on volunteers and there wasn’t enough interest in the area. But this past year, we had coaches and other people who decided to step up, so we asked the league if we could try it out for a year an if all goes well we’ll keep it going,” said Hoffman, team manager.
With 13 eager kids on the team, the new Stafford Steelers peewee team was formed and fastball was brought back to Stafford Park.
Jason Laronde, one of the team’s coaches, said that he honoured to be involved with the team and is eager to see more youth take in interest in fastball over the years.
“It's been more than 20 years since fastball has been here and it's nice to see it coming back in the valley and the support from the township has been great. It took awhile to convince everyone but now the kids are thrilled and the community is really onboard with it – which we see by the fanbase that comes out to our games,” said Laronde. “It's also nice to see the kids get out of the house, especially in the summertime, and to try a different sport.”
Along with the hard-working coaches and volunteers, Hoffman said that their team is more than grateful to Brum’s Dairy who signed on as the sponsor.
“Brum’s has been very supportive and we want to make them proud of us,” said Hoffman. “Whether it’s with respect on the field or winning a game, our goal is to make Brum’s and the community proud of us.”
Shauna Wagner, manager of Brum’s Dairy, said that she played fastball at Stafford Park when she was a kid and she’s more than pleased to support its comeback.
“We like to support healthy active lifestyles and it was nice to see the league come back into this area of Stafford after 20 years – so whatever we can do to promote that we wanted to,” said Wagner.
On June 16, the team took advantage of the beautiful weather and hosted a friendly tournament with eight other Ottawa Valley teams. Along with serving as a friendly competition, the day served as a fundraiser to support the newly formed Stafford team.
While the kids played ball, their family and friends cheered them on from the stands and enjoyed a hotdog and a cool drink from the canteen. The Stafford Steelers won their two games to score a spot in the B Championship where they were ultimately defeated 5-1 by Alice 1. The A Championship saw -the Greely Eagles come out on top (10-0) against Kinburn Crush.
After the games, all 130 participants were treated to free ice cream cones at Brum’s Dairy – a Stafford tradition.



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