This story comes from a booklet created to celebrate Guysborough County’s rich culture and heritage as part of the Guysborough County Adult Learning Association’s Canada 150 Project. The booklet contains stories, articles and pictures of how we have lived, worked and sometimes persevered in our great county.
In the 1950’s, the only person who had a glove back then was the catcher and pitcher. No one else had a glove, just a bare hand. Next, the first baseman started getting a glove. The balls were about the same size as today, maybe not as lively. I know they’d sure hurt when you were playing 3rd base; they’d sting.
In 1966, the Guysborough Jost team got started. Mr. Drysdale got the team started. Shawn Hadley and I were in the store one spring, getting some balls and stuff, and he came down and talked to us. He gave us a few balls and a few bats and that’s how it got started. He had no intention of running the team or coaching or anything; he just wanted to help out. He was quite a baseball player, from Pugwash, and he came here to teach school.
We played a lot and we practiced a lot. Mr. Drysdale had one thing he wanted to do; he wanted to play better teams. We would get beat and he would say: “boys you have to learn how to lose, before you can win.” We would play the teams from here and win all the time. We travelled to places like Antigonish, New Glasgow and Trenton and we would learn. The Brookfield Elks may have been the best team in the province at that time. Their coach, Terry Henderson, was a travelling salesman. Every two weeks he would come to Guysborough; he would come to practice and teach us things. He would show us things at every position, and that is how we learned the game. After a few games, we could beat Brookfield because we were dedicated. We had the same bunch of fellas stay with it for a number of years; we all got along and there were no hard feelings.
Mr. Drysdale always wanted to be an ambassador of the game and he was a strong believer in sportsmanship. He didn’t allow smoking. He only had to tell anyone once there would be no smoking on the field, no arguing with umpires and no bad language with the other teams. That carried on with the other teams. Young players like Norman Jordan, they called him Heinz, would come to the field and chase balls all day, and then go home to practice; that’s how he learned how to pitch. Mr. Drysdale didn’t make any bad friends and he didn’t fight with umpires. He’d go in and he’d say: “Mr. Ump can you explain that call? I don’t agree with you, but if that’s the way you see it, that’s the way you see it.” Then he would walk away.
Mr. Drysdale got involved with the Jost team, the juvenile team and minor ball. He thought it was really important to have minor ball. He would provide transportation and be out on the field with the kids too. Another thing about Mr. Drysdale is he wanted to play local guys; his only recruit was Jimmy Fougere from Havre Boucher they didn’t have a team that year. We had Gerry (Jamieson); Gerry was the best there was, but he needed help. Other teams wanted him too, but we got Jimmy and he became one of us.
I started to coach in the old town league. Danny Worth, Wayne Clyke, Pius and David Connolly, Paul Long, Ba (Gerald Fitzgerald Jr.) and Mike Shea were on that team. We went down to Newport and won a big tournament, and that is the first thing we won. Our team, the Josts, were playing here, but I decided no, I coached the team all year and I’m going with them. We never lost a game. Then Joe (Sullivan) took over the team.
The biggest crowd was when the King and His Court were here. He was the best softball player in the world. They had pretty much the best pitching in the world at that time. We figured there were 1500 people watching.
My highlight would be when we won the Intermediate C title in Halifax. We beat the Halifax team back to back games on the Halifax Commons on their home grounds. I have the game ball.
Another thing I’m really proud of, other than success on the field, was what it did for young people and everyone playing. Everyone got along. It gave them the opportunity to play ball and not get into bad habits, and be involved in the community.
Article by Eldon Halloran and the Guysborough Adult Learning Association’s Canada Forward 150 Project – “Guysborough Success Stories”. All photos by Eldon Halloran.