Formation of Ballarat City Baseball Club

Extract from the Ballarat Courier. May 1, 1931

A meeting of Ballarat District Cricket Association cricketers was held last night when a baseball club, to be called the City Club, was formed, and the team will compete in Association matches. The officers elected were: President, Mr. W. A. Aikens; Vice-Presidents, Messrs. H. B. Irwin, G. Stone, A. Darling; Secretary, Mr. W. C. Cutter; Treasurer, Mr. F. Gillinder. Committeemen: Messrs. Scott, Heffernan, Nylander, Philp and Jones. Delegates: Messrs. Garner and Cutter.

The Ballarat City Brewers Baseball Club have the longest history in the Ballarat region spanning from 1931 to present. 

The Ballarat Baseball Association was in recess during the World War II years 1942 and 1943. City, along with 1941 competitors Victoria and Druids, was back when the Association resumed in 1944, and so are considered to have an unbroken record of affiliation.

The first recorded game of baseball in Ballarat was as far back as 1888. In July 1960, the Ballarat Courier noted that on December 29th, 1888, American millionaire A.G. Spalding brought his touring teams Chicago and the All Americans to Ballarat. Four thousand people are reported to have watched their exhibition match at the Eastern Oval. An attempt to launch baseball in Ballarat was made in 1927 when Hawthorn and St. Kilda played an exhibition match at the City Oval. In 1930, two Melbourne Baseball enthusiasts, Arch Freeman and Alan Pfeifer, transferred their employment to Ballarat. Both men had been associated with the Carlton Baseball Club. They made contact with the Young Men's Churches Cricket Association, Mr Col. Brehaut. Freeman and Pfeifer convinced the cricketers that baseball was an ideal game for keeping ones eye in during the winter months. It was from this Association that the four foundation baseball clubs were borne. The Ballarat Baseball Association was launched in July 1930, with Y.M.C.A, Students, Congoes and Druids the competing teams. City joined the competition on May 9th 1931, after the opening round of the 1931 season had been played. Cricketers from the Ballarat District Cricket Association, the turf section of Ballarat cricket, formed the nucleus of the City Baseball Club. City quickly became a force in the competition. It made an inauspicious start, losing its first match to Y.M.C.A. 26-6, before emerging the premier team after defeating Congoes in the 1931 Grand Final. City carried on the dominance to win the 1932, 1933 and 1934 premierships. City fielded a B Grade team for the first time in 1933. It finished runner-up, before winning the premiership in 1934, the first time one club had taken out both Association premierships. City had to wait until 1977 to repeat that feat, but it achieved the double again in 1980.

City's 66-2 defeat of V.R.I. in the opening round of the 1932 season is believed to be the highest score recorded in the Ballarat competition. City players shared in another memorable match in 1952, when Ballarat's junior carnival team drew with Geelong 1-all after 19 innings, reported at the time to be a junior world record.

GREAT CLUB STALWARTS

Many individuals have done much to keep the Ballarat City Baseball Club to the fore in its long history. The first President was Alex Aikens, a top grade cricket umpire. He remained President until 1957, and for most of this time was also President of the Ballarat Baseball Association. Arch Fullerton, Frank Gillinder, Norm Philp and George Murrowood were some who did much for the club in the initial years. In 1934, Warren Wigley transferred from Congoes and with his transfer came his sister, Thora, who was the club's efficient scorer for many years. With 1944 bringing the resumption of organised baseball in Ballart, many new faces appeared in the City team, while Max Jackson, Eric Harwood, Bob Scott and George Murrowood remained from the thirties team. Jackson, in particular, was considered by many experts to have had the ability to win a Stawell Gift or play State cricket. Throughout the forties and fifties the club fielded two senior teams and an under-age team, and although not having the spectacular success of the early teams, City remained a force in the competition. Many players consistently performed well in the club games and gained selection in combined teams. To name but a few: Alan Spence, Ray Oxlade, Eric Harwood, Jack Scott, Alan and Ron Clack, Jim Woods, Geoff and Bill Cunningham, Harry Leviston, Max Andrews and Peter Ditchfield.

In 1954, Leviston was the best player of the Carnival series. Geoff Wearne, an early player with City and later a very efficient Honorary Secretary, did much for the club. He later transferred to Y.M.C.A. and was administrative head of that club during its remarkable run of success in the late fifties and sixties.

Ron Wakeling was a keen player for City and introduced his son John to the club in 1960. John was to perform exceptionally for the club and association in playing and administrative duties, and still has a heavy off-field involvement to this day. John Wakeling was selected in the V.P.B.L. All Stars for the first time in 1962. In 1969, he was judged equal best player of the Carnival series but was not available for the Victorian team due to National Service duties.

John Peddlesden came to City in 1962 and performed so well that he is considered one of the most outstanding players in B.B.A. and V.P.B.L. history. A frontline pitcher, devastating hitter and capable catcher, Peddlesden was the complete baseballer. Four times he was judged best player of the Carnival series in 1965, 1967, 1970 and 1977. Wayne Johnson, an outstanding catcher, really set a high standard and the Peddlesden-Johnson batter is widely regarded as one of City's best.

Peter Ditchfield was another who made a big contribution both on and off the field. An efficient first baseman and Honorary Secretary for 15 years, Ditchfield had Life Membership conferred on him in 1974.

James Rogers, who succeeded Ditchfield as Club Secretary in 1977, maintained City's proud history of top player-administrators. Rogers twice won the Association B/Minors best player award (1977 and 1980), and was runner-up in 1976 and 1978. Rogers also served as B.B.A. Secretary for many years.

Jeff Clack, winner of the 1975 best player award in majors, also served as Association Secretary, continuing the remarkable record of service to Ballarat baseball by the Clack family including brothers Roy, Alan and Ron. Jeff, the son of club stalwart Ron Snr, came through City's junior ranks and established himself as a top pitcher and fine all-rounder. Roy Clack was a member of the original Y.M.C.A. team of 1930, later played with City, became an Association Vice-President, an umpire and coach of many Ballarat combined teams. But the record for continuous service to baseball in Ballarat belongs to Ron Clack. His active connection with the sport spans the years 1931-1980, the longest service of any individual. Ron Clack began as scorer for Y.M.C.A. in 1931. He played with Y.M.C.A, City and Cougars until 1941. He rejoined City in 1946 and was Treasurer and Vice-President, 1947-55. He was President from 1957 to 1972. A talented baseballer, Ron Captained City's A team from 1950 to 1960. In 1973, City recognised Ron Clack's huge contribution to the club my awarding him Life Membership. Tributes were also paid to Ron's wife Norma, who was scorer for City A and Ballarat between 1946 and 1956.

Source: A History of the City Baseball Club

https://sitedesq.imgstg.com/assets/siteDesq/19551/gallery/brew2.jpg

 

https://sitedesq.imgstg.com/assets/siteDesq/19551/gallery/brew5.jpg

 

https://sitedesq.imgstg.com/assets/siteDesq/19551/gallery/brew7.jpg

 

https://sitedesq.imgstg.com/assets/siteDesq/19551/gallery/brew3.jpg

 

https://sitedesq.imgstg.com/assets/siteDesq/19551/gallery/brew4.jpg

 

https://sitedesq.imgstg.com/assets/siteDesq/19551/gallery/brew8.jpg