Submitted by W&CSHOF
The 1977 Wetaskiwin Legion Bantam and the Wetaskiwin Sport Shop Midget Fastball Teams are being inducted into the Wetaskiwin and County Sports Hall of Fame for winning two provincial Titles and two western Canadian titles.
To date they are the only teams that have been inducted that were able to win both the provincial and the western Canadian championships and incredibly they were able to accomplish the feat twice! Although not all of the men being inducted played on both teams a core group were members of both teams. When the boys were younger, some of them were also together on teams that won the provincial title in 1973 as Mites and again in 1975 as peewees.
The 1977 bantam team went undefeated in both the provincial championships and the western Canadian championships, an incredible accomplishment! In advancing to the provincials, the bantams defeated Brockville in two straight. In the Alberta play-downs they swept the title in three games, winning 10-1, 6-1 and 2-1 against Calgary and Edmonton’s best. In the three-day championships held in Saskatoon the Legion bantams had the pitching strength and the batting power the other teams never had. They were by far the best team in the tournament and defeated Port Alberni in the final game 8-2.
In 1979 the midgets were also undefeated in the provincial championships. In winning the tournament the Sport Shop beat Ardrossan 11-1, edged Grand Prairie 2-0 and beat Edmonton 12-6. In the final game they defeated Grande Prairie 17-9 after Grand Prairie had jumped into a six-point lead in the first inning! At the western Canadians held in Campbell River the midgets lost their first two games and then won five in a row to take the championship. After losing 3-0 to Saskatchewan and 1-0 to Manitoba they defeated Campbell River 9-0, British Columbia 13-0 and Campbell River 2-1 to end the preliminaries. In the play-offs they beat Saskatchewan 3-2 and edged Campbell River 2-1 for the second time on their route to the gold medal.
The head coach of both the bantam and the midget teams was Al Arner. As we all know, Al was a hard taskmaster. However, the boys must have respected Al and his coaching as before the 1978 season, Al fell out of a tree, broke his arm and consequently did not coach. Most of the players took the 1978 year off and then played again in 1979 when Al was back at the helm. Al started the boys playing inside in January and had many inventive drills to prepare the boys for the outdoor season. Al was certainly a factor and a positive influence in the accomplishments of the Legion bantam and Sport Shop midget teams. Credit should also be given to the 1977 and 1979 assistant coaches and managers as well as the coaches when the boys competed at the younger levels. They too contributed to the successes of these two teams.
The players on these two teams learned the value of participating in team sports and have encouraged their own children to become involved. Many of these men have given back to the community by coaching teams or becoming involved in the administrative aspect of community recreation thereby passing on lessons they learned.
Congratulations to both of these teams for their amazing achievement of winning these championships. Winning and competing at this level required effort, dedication, practice, team spirit, exceptional coaching, parental support as well as natural talent. These boys had it all.
Team Members are: Danny Anderson (77/79), Allen Bailer (77), Darrel Campbell (79), Dean Colborne (77/79), Brian Cooke (79), Mazen Debaji (77), Eldon Dumkee (77/79), Dean Fonteyne (79), Doug Ganske (79), Mike Gates (77), Scott Hagstrom (79), Barry Hebner (77/79), Darrell Knapp (77), Dexter Knull (77), Kevin Lonsdale (77/79), Warren Moan (77), Jim Pocock (77), Chris Smeaton (77), Doug Summers (79), Colin Wark (79), Jim Woitt (77/79) Coach Al Arner (77/79), Assistant Coach Raymond Bailer (77), Assistant Coach Bruce Rogers (79), Coach Val Fonteyne (75), Sponser Father Edward Lynch (77/79)
The 2016 induction dinner will take place on Saturday, March 25 at the Best Western Wayside Inn Banquet Room in Wetaskiwin.