The History of the Georgian Bay Minor Softball League
by Keith Chapman
The GBMSL, unofficially, has been around since the early 1970's and the individuals responsible for its survival are numerous. Some it seems gave years and years of service and are still involved indirectly in their own communities even though their names may not have been recorded in any GBMSL records. Others were present only for a season or two but their presence still helped preserve this league to it's present status. Without these individuals there would be no Georgian Bay Minor Softball League.
From information we can gather the league roots go back to 1972/73. Although the league wasn't really named yet, coaches from Sturgeon Bay and Vasey along with other local communities competed for a season championship. Don Hawke was coaching and organizing out of Vasey and Bob Potter Sr. was doing the same out of Sturgeon Bay, at what is now know as Dalton Park. Dalton Park was donated for this purpose by landowner Barney Ward. The diamond consisted of cedar posts with chicken wire stapled to them, and lots of mosquitoes as spectators. There were few teams and Sturgeon Bay won the first Mini-Squirt Championship game vs. Vasey with the Trophy being donated by Cody's Gas & Variety from Vasey. (see photo below of 1973 Championship team)
In approx. 1977 Garry Edwards, the contact for Vasey, invited others to join into a more organized league. These individuals would have consisted of Garry Edwards, Stan Cadeau, Fred Patterson, Marshall Hubbard, Brien Dutton and others.
The league has developed over the years with as many as 18 communities playing in the league and team numbers exceeding 100. There have been approx. 1000 children/youth playing in GBMSL in an average season.
Some communities have disappeared entirely over the years and new communities have appeared, as of 2001 we were happy to have both Coldwater and Minesing join our list of communities. . During the late 1990's we had Midget teams involved out of Guthrie and Nottawa for a couple of years and a Bantam team from Christian Island in 1999.
Girls teams where introduced in approx. 1977 starting with Intermediate and then expanding to Junior and Senior divisions. Unfortunately they were discontinued in 2002 due to a lack of participation. The girls teams resulted from a merger from an existing girls division that was run by Felix Ladouceur and Sandy Dubeau out of C.B.O. which had been running since approx. 1973
The communities of Sturgeon Bay (1973), Penetanguishene (1977&1983), Midland (1981), CBO (1979, 1980 & 1983)) & Anten Mills (1994) were mentioned on trophies through the years, although these communities are not current members of the league they were certainly involved along the way.
The communities of Phelpston and Waverley were quite active throughout the years but their teams disappeared in 1998 in Phelpston and in 2001 in Waverley. We look forward to seeing these communities return in the future. In 2005 Perkinsfield ceased to have teams participating in GBMSL and the same situation happened to Hillsdale in 2008 although both communities continue to belong to our league with the hope of having returning teams in the future. Although there has been the departure of some centers involved in our league our team #'s have remained consistent with players often moving on to another GBMSL town to play.
Team names have come and gone through the years as well, a few we've come across are the Wyebridge Braves, Elmvale Bees, Hillsdale Cubs, Vasey Beavers & the Wyebridge Vikings
Optional Tournaments began in 2002 for Squirt, Peewee, Bantam and Midget and have been a great success with as many as 15 teams participating in a weekend tournament for the Championship spot. Even a team from Innisfil has come to play at the Midget level in the annual tournament. In 2005 a new Mini-Squirt tournament was added.
The Triple Crown Title was established in 2002. This title is given to a team that takes all 3 titles in their division. It is no easy task and is well worth rewarding so ball caps were purchased with the "Triple Crown" title embroidered on them.
The GBMSL logo was designed by Keith Chapman in 2002 along with the beginning of our online presence with the web site, www.gbmsl.com.
In 2005 Pat Rodgers & Keith Chapman began the push to restart the “All Star Games”, they had been an annual event up to 1996 in Waubaushene were invited players were randomly placed on a team and played a game. In 2005 the games recommenced with Waubaushene hosting the event. The new game design saw an East/West split with a goal to imitate the Major Leagues. Every team in the league is required as part of our membership to send players to represent their team at the games. The Pioneer Award was introduced with a plaque being unveiled and many of our past pioneers being recognized at the 2005 games as well. The All Star games will move from East to West on an annual basis with the Pioneer award being a part of the games each year. We began the Skill competitions in 2006 with records being updated from that date onward (home run derby was added a couple of years later). All players invited to the games receive a rattler cap & commemorative item to help remember the event.
GBMSL began participation within the Ontario Select Tournaments in 2006, teams had participated in some OASA tournaments in the past but we saw active growth with 4 teams in 2007 and a provincial team for all divisions started in 2008. Some of the teams chose the select route while some went OASA along with one PWSA team for the Midget girls.
In 2009 the Select/OASA/PWSA teams from Georgian Bay took on the team name "RATTLERS", the name was sent in by Nicole Robitaille from Toanche and after an executive vote of all the names submitted it was announced as official. The logo design was developed with input by Keith Chapman & Michelle Clark. The Rattler title is also now attributed to all players who attend the All Star games, who attain MVP status at Championship games or on simply winning an award within GBMSL. We know that every GBMSL player will strive to become a "RATTLER" while playing their ball career in our league.
2010 saw Waubaushene field no teams however the # of teams in the league stayed the same as the players joined teams in the communities surrounding them. This saw our active # of communities fall to 10 with Coldwater, Victoria Harbour, Vasey, Port McNicoll, Wyebridge, Elmvale, Wyevale, Minesing. Toanche & Lafontaine remaining. Perkinsfield & Waubaushene have remained active as communities and participate in hosting tournaments but with no active teams in the league. In 2012 for the first time in GBMSL's history Wyebridge did not field a team in the league. In 2013 we saw a name change for the Mini-Squirt division as they are now know as Mite, this standardizes the division name with other towns across the province.
The Pioneer Award
A few names from the past along with current representatives who have been involved in the GBMSL.
If they served on the executive then their capacity served, if known, follows their name.
Anten Mills- Wayne Hawk
Elmvale- Marshall Hubbard (1980-?)Director, Tim McGinnis- Community Contact, Peter Kenney- Umpire in Chief, Mike Townes(?-2002) Community Contact, Trevor Ritchie(2002-2004) Community Contact, Gail Hall (2004-2013) was in Hillsdale previously, Community Contact & Secretar, Kelly Findlay (2010-present) Community Contact
Coldwater- Jodie Stachura (2002-2004)- Secretary & Community Contact, Peter Strik (2004-2010)- Community Contact & Director, Michelle Clark (2006-present)- Community Contact & Junior Umpire Development Director, Dave Mahaffey (2010-2012) Director & DUIC, Ken Wallace (2012-present) Director
Hillsdale- Dale Echells, Fred Espey, Lionel Trew- Community Contact, Gail Hall (1993-2004)- Community Contact, Cheryl Gotthelf- Community Contact & Director (2005-2008)
Lafontaine- Steve Pinkney-President, Robert Moreau- Director & Community Contact, Jeff Dorion(2002-2003) Community Contact, Helga Sawkins(2003-2004) Community Contact, Shirley Dorian- Treasurer(2004-2005), Morris Wylie (2004-2007) Community Contact, Martial Robitaille (2007-present) Community Contact & Director, Angela Desroches (2012) Community Contact & Director, Felix Ladouceur (2013-present)
Minesing- Barb Maw (2002-present)- Director, Community Contact, Vice-President & President- Melanie Bowen (2008) Community Contact- Carl Luoma- (2009- Present) Community Contact &Director
Nottawa- Teresa Engel (1999-2000)- Community Contact
Perkinsfield- Betty Robitaille (1980-1995)- Treasurer & Community Contact, Don Belanger- Vice President (1980’s- 2001), Dorothy Brooks (2002-3)-Director , James Lefaive(2003-2008)-Director & Community Contact, Felix Ladoucuer (2009-present)
Phelpston- Carol Kelly (1985-1999)- Secretary, Treasurer, Director, Scheduler & Community Contact, Gary Kelly, Yvonne Sjerps, Kevin McKay (1997-2000)-President & Community Contact
Port McNicoll- Tim Russell, Leona Lever- Community Contact, Scott Cain (2000-2002), Wendy Purdy (2003-2008)-Director & Community Contact, Mike Briggs (2006-Present)- Community Contact & Director, Dave Banks (2013-)-Community Contact
Sturgeon Bay- Bob Potter Sr. (1972-1980)Community Contact, League Organizer
Toanche- Fred Patterson-(1978-1997)Scheduler, Director & Community Contact, Larry Patenaude, Roy Patenaude (2007-present) Scheduler, Director & Vice President, Dick Cleverly (2002-2004)-Treasurer & Community Contact, Norm Robitaille(2003-2004)-Director & Community Contact, Christine Patenaude (2004-present) Community Contact, Director, Vice-President, President & Past President
Vasey- Don Hawke (1972-1980) Community Contact, Garry Edwards (1975-1981), Cliff Lockhart (1988-1991) President, Vern Jolie (1974-1979)(1986-2006)-Director, Vice President, Director & Community Contact, Margaret Anderson(-2002), Dave Walker-Director(2002-3), Peter Robinson- Community Contact, Director(2003-2012), Tony Dixon-(2011-present) DUIC, Ed Moriarty (2012-present) Community Contact
Victoria Harbour- Stan Cadeau, Judy Kaus, Ray Cavaliere (1983-1996)- Director, Keith Chapman (1993-Present)-Community Contact, Director, Scheduler, Statistician, UIC, President, Webmaster, Past President, DUIC& Select Convenor- Sandra Chapman(1995-Present)-Scheduler & Statistician, Community Contact & Select Convenor, Sharon Taylor(2004-Present)Community Contact
Waubaushene- Bill Fournier- Community Contact, Barb Thiffault- Community Contact, Dave Couper- Community Contact, Pat Rodgers (1995-2008)-Director, Community Contact & Umpire in Chief, Paul Murphy (2004-2006) -Community Contact, Michelle Roberts (2007-present)- Community Contact & Director, Dave Mahaffey (2009-2010) Director & Deputy DUIC
Waverley-Ken Lockhart, Albert "Buck" French, Ron Leonard, Irene French-Director, Secretary & Community Contact(1982-2002), Anne Truax-Treasurer, Director & Community Contact (1988-2003)
Wyebridge- Brien Dutton, Kent Goldsmith (-2003)-Director & Community Contact, Christine Dutton (2003-2004) Community Contact, Brad Lyon(2001-2003)- Umpire in Chief, Guy Desroches (2004-2013) Community Contact & Director, Rene Robitaille (2007-present)Umpire in Chief
Wyevale- Kevin Badger, Ross Leonard (1986-1994)-Secretary & Director, Robert Lapham- Community Contact, Felix Ladouceur (1973-2009)-Director, Statistician, Community Contact, Treasurer & DUIC, Paul Gamble (2007-2008) Community Contact, Darrell Leonard (2008-2010) Community Contact, Kevin Wagner (2011-present) Community Contact & Director
The GBMSL 1973 Mini-Squirt Champions- Sturgeon Bay
Back Row- Bob Potter (Coach) and Norm Stewart (Asst. Coach)
Back Row- Jerry Gerow, Tom Potter, Scott Gilcrest, Bobby Potter Jr., Terry Sherlaw, Billy Russell
Front Row- Kenny Potter, Hughy Scott, Monty Gilcrest, Scott Hopkins, Kevin Connor, George Potter
This was the first Mini-Squirt Championship game in GBMSL's history
Sturgeon Bay played Vasey for the Championship Trophy
Vasey's pitcher was Peter Robinson
1973 Mini-Squirt Champions- Donated and presented by Jim Cody- Cody's Gas & Variety Store - Vasey
1973 Championship Jacket, purchased by Bob Potter for his team
C.B.O.- Champions 1983
Back Row- Kirk Ure, Robert Ure, Ronald Vallee, Cory Trew, Felix Ladouceur
Middle Row- Leonard Belcourt, Joey Taylor, Marcel Lesperance, Stephen Donnon, Jamie Marchildon, Rick Ure, Stewart Frazer
Front Row- Chris Lawson, Rob Ron, Jeff Warren, Francois Belcourt, Brandy Spring
Some Crests from the past!