Gord Kennedy figures it was probably in the 1990s the last time there were only wooden bats used at the annual Wayne Buckle Memorial Molson Sweet Pee slo-pitch softball tournament.
“Then we went to aluminum bats,” he said. “I’d say it’s been that long for sure.”
Kennedy, along with fellow organizers Pete Mahar and Terry Hefford, made the decision this year to outlaw aluminum. Kennedy had nine wooden bats custom made for the tournament by Mackenzie Bats in St. John’s. The point, he said, is to cut down on the growing competitiveness of the tournament and bring the focus back on having fun.
“The way softball is going now, everyone’s got $500 or $700 bats and the balls are flying off the bats,” he said. “The bigger boys playing on Atlantic (Monarchs Complex) are going to be hard-pressed to put the ball over the fence this year.”
If the idea works, Kennedy said the tournament will likely continue a wooden bats only policy.
“We’ll see how it goes,” he said. “We’ll see what the teams’ response is on it.”
Starting in 1969, the tournament has long been a highlight of the slo-pitch season, with the chance to drink out of the ceramic bed pan trophy on the line over the course of a weekend.
This year’s tournament will feature nine teams — down slightly, Kennedy said, because of too many schedule conflicts — and begins 6 p.m. this evening at Fred Basha Memorial Park A Diamond and the Monarchs Complex. The tournament then runs through until Sunday.
Kennedy said the fun and camaraderie keeps people coming back year after year.
“People look forward to it because it’s a weekend that everyone can forget the official game of ball and just get out and have a laugh,” he said.