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Well it started with just wanting to play ball...
The year was 1988, and a few businesses in and around Langley were challenging each other to informal games of Slo-pitch on any field that could be had. Lordco and Langley Chrysler took the extra step and actually got usage from Langley Township of Old Yale School (adjacent to Denny Ross) and Langley Fundamental (in downtown Langley). After interest peaked in the summer of that year, Keith Larson (our first president) from Finning, Guy Olsson from Lordco, and Terry Chovan from Langley Sports Center decided to get the seven teams that were interested, add one more to the fold, and start a league. The following spring the as yet un-named league was formed. Each team was still responsible for petitioning the Township for diamond space, and the schedule was merely a suggestion.
As play progressed through the 1989 season, several issues came to the forefront, not the least of which was the condition of the fields, never mind the schedule. The following season it was decided that control of the diamonds and schedule was to be undertaken by the league, and much progress was made, no longer did we have to play on forgotten fields behind the elementary school, but actually had fields with backstops!! Our “quality” diamonds now included Glenwood school, birthplace of the “extra base for hitting a cow” rule, and Steele Park, home of the 160ft fence, but it did not matter as no one could hit it over with the wooden bats anyway. Our best field was the (pre improved) MAP SE, and teams coveted this park. The league now needed a name because we had a revenue stream and required a bank account. Langley Slo-Pitch already existed, so because of the nature of the teams (Finning, Lordco, Langley Sports, Langley Nissan, etc) being commercial ventures, the name “Langley Commercial Mixed Slo-Pitch” was chosen.
The 1991 season brought new concepts into the fray. Expansion was rampant to 12 teams, and we actually had a playoff tournament at Steele park. At the end of this season, changes were in the wind, and a changing of the guard was undertaken. Keith Larson stepped down due to work concerns, and Peter Zeller became the new President during the course of that year, there were no other official positions. It was recognized that we needed to have officials for the games but with our $300.00 league fees, we could not use outside help due to budgetary constraints. The problem was solved by having the Batting team serve as the Umpire, and while moderately successful, lack of rule knowledge and perceived bias created occasional problems. The league expanded yet again to 12 teams and the playoffs were held at Steele Park.
1991 was the year seeds were sewn for what we have today, it was obvious we needed to re-vamp what we were doing for Umpires and it was decided that teams would be responsible for officiating other team’s games, thus eliminating the bias issue. For this to work, we needed to train our officials and Guy Olsson was sponsored by the league to attend a Softball Canada Umpires Clinic and became league VP. Unfortunately the clinic dealt mainly with fast pitch, but enough knowledge was obtained to be dangerous. Due the exorbitant fee increases to $150.00 per team, two other executive positions were created, Kelly Reisig became treasurer, and Debbie, became statistician. The season went on like clockwork and the playoff were held at the “amazing’ (to us at the time) Willoughby Park.
In the off season, Guy attended some officiating workshops and became aware of a fledgling organization called Slo-Pitch National. After contacting Howie Williams and finding out more information, it was presented to the membership that we affiliate. The Township was now demanding liability insurance and the independent provider used the year prior was too expensive. The motion was carried and all our officials (still from other teams) attended a clinic put on by Stan Weir, who unbeknownst to us at the time would become the deputy Umpire In Chief for all of Canada. The biggest debates of 196 were another fee increase to cover the Umpires fees of $10.00 per game, and expansion from 12 to 14 teams. Guy also proposed we use outside Umpires for the Playoffs, which was carried by a narrow margin. The year progressed and the tournament was a smashing success with the outside Umpires making such an impression that they were brought in full-time the following season and no one complained about the increased cost, it was a relief to all not having to go out and get hassled by your peers for a bad call.
1997 saw the organization level kick up a notch. Guy and Peter were made aware of a plan to build a Baseball / Softball complex North of the existing MAP diamonds, the problem was the land remained in the ALR, and much lobbying had to be done to free it up. We knew that to develop the park, other monies besides what the membership could generate would be needed.
- By admin
- May 3, 2014