The Canadian National Oldtimers Baseball Federation 2019 Championship took place in Airdrie, Alberta over the August long weekend. The tournament included teams from across the country playing in four divisions: 35+, 43+, 50+, and 57+.
The Comox Valley was once again represented in the 57+ division by Happy’s Source for Sports Islanders. The Islanders won the first two years of the 57+ division, in 2016 in Medicine Hat, and in 2017 in Hamilton. In 2018, the team did not travel to the championship held in Charlottetown.
The other teams in the division this year included Hamilton, Dufferin-Simcoe (Ontario), Red Deer, Spring Lake (Alberta), and Saskatchewan. With six teams in two groups, Happy’s played its three-game round robin against Saskatchewan, Dufferin-Simcoe, and Spring Lake.
Somewhat slow out of the gate, a first game 9-5 loss to Saskatchewan was a bit of a shock.
However, the team recovered in the second game of its Friday doubleheader to beat Dufferin-Simcoe 6-3. In the final round robin game, the bats went silent as Spring Lake edged the Islanders 4-2. So, our boys now had to play an extra playoff game and come in the back door if they hoped to challenge for the title.
Saturday’s 2 vs 3 playoff game was the breakthrough for the Islanders as the bats kicked into high gear. The result – an 11-1 mercy victory in four and a half innings. Then, facing the division-winning Red Deer Legends, there was no slowing down as Happy’s thumped the 2018 defending champions 12-4.
The weather on Monday, as it had been for the entire tournament, was perfect for baseball. The Spring Lake team, a finalist in 2018, was ready to step up and take the trophy. However, the two-time champions were not in a giving mood.
From the first batter in the first inning, the Islanders pressured Spring Lake, and did not let up. However, after three innings, the game was only tied 1-1, even though Happy’s had several runners each inning. The fourth inning finally saw the gates open and the runs increase. By the sixth, it was 8-1 for the Island crew and the team cruised to an 8-2 victory and the team’s third national title.
“Quite an overall performance (especially after the first game) by a bunch of pretty mature guys; except for a couple of boots at third base and a few mental mistakes, tremendous defence; stellar pitching; and, timely hitting top to bottom of the lineup,” said Kevin Dobbelsteyn, in an email.
“Special thanks to all the volunteers across the country that make the tournament possible. And special thanks to manager Tim McDonald and coach Ray Van Der Mark.”