Anniversary celebrates when softball was king in St. Catharines


There likely won't be live baseball on the big screens at Wrigley's Sports Bar & Lounge in St. Catharines this Saturday night.

Unless the St. Louis Cardinals come back from a 3-0 deficit and force a Game 7 in their National League championship series with the Washington Nationals, fans will have to make due with highlights.

The absence of live baseball on the tube doesn't mean there won't be lively baseball discussions around the tables, especially about the heyday of softball in St. Catharines.

One watershed year in particular was 1966, when the McKinnon Macs captured their first Ontario Industrial League championship.

Their first of many.

Before they were disbanded after McKinnon Industries became part of General Motors and the automaker dropped its sponsorship of the team, the mighty Macs took four straight titles.

They punctuated their last crown in 1969 by winning the provincial intermediate A championship, becoming the only team in long history of the Ontario Amateur Softball Association (OASA) to win two provincial championships in the same season.

There is an application before the OASA to induct the McKinnon Macs into the organization's hall of fame.

While the team awaits word on whether it will be enshrined, the former players have never played a waiting game when it comes to getting together and reminiscing about the days they were darlings of the diamond at Lancaster Park and other ball fields throughout Ontario.

Since the Macs disbanded, the one-time teammates have made a point of touching base with each other every year on the Saturday after Thanksgiving.

This weekend's celebration marks the 50th anniversary of the McKinnon Macs' last championship and their first get-together.

Members of the 1967 Ontario Industrial League and St. Catharines Major Fastball League champions include: Rob Anderson, first base; Dick Balint, pitcher; Al Beckman, centre field; Dave Betzold, pitcher; Ross Durfy, assistant financial secretary; Bill Fielding, left field; Brian Fleming, bat boy; Keith Fleming, financial secretary; Peter Kennedy, trainer; Stan Klimek, coach; Chic Macoretta, third base; Pat McCann, left field; Bill McMartin, catcher; Bob McSporran, catcher; Bill Moore, right field; Ken Prodger, manager; Duane Rutley, second base; Bruce Schinkel, assistant coach; and Walt Szpilewski, pitcher.