When they weren’t playing Little League games, Hugh Morrison, Doug Gilmour, Dave Bowering, Bruce Graham, Grant Hughes, Ken Gregory and Gary Wilcox (not pictured) played on a makeshift baseball diamond they built in the northwest corner of the former Willows Fairgrounds. It lasted about one year before new housing went up. Note the backstop and bikes said Wilcox, who took the photo on a Kodak baby Brownie. (Gary Wilcox Photo)

Looking back at the boys of Oak Bay’s 1954 sandlot

And remembering that one day a girl played

With the World Series playoffs underway, one Oak Bay resident recalls his days of playing sandlot baseball on the old Willows Fairgrounds in 1953 and 1954.

“We were 11 and 12 years old, we had joined Little League by then, but we also played on our own, a small group of us on a grass lot with a makeshift backstop,” said Gary Wilcox, now 76.

It wasn’t far off of what’s portrayed in the 1993 film The Sandlot, about a group of neighbourhood kids who spend their summer playing daily pickup baseball.

READ MORE: Oak Bay athlete leads B.C. to national baseball title

Wilcox took the photo of his baseball buddies with a Kodak baby Brownie, popular of the era.

At the time, Little League added the American (Carnarvon) and National (Hillside/Cook) teams as well as Oak Bay Kiwanis, Victoria Kinsmen and the Lions.

“On my history website I tell an interesting story of the day a girl played with us at that sandlot,” Wilcox said.

“She was 11 or 12, and one day she watched for a while. She wanted to play, so she did. She hit the ball to short stop, and then she ran to third. She was thrown out at first base. But she argued defiantly that she was not out. She argued that because she was left handed, she should run to third.”

The year 1954 marked the end of the kids’ sandlot diamond as it was developed with homes the next year, Wilcox recalled.

Of course, Oak Bay already had a storied baseball history as its 2,000-seat Oak Bay Ball Park, which hosted Hal Chase for three months in 1905 during the short-lived pro baseball league that pitted Victoria against Seattle and Tacoma.

reporter@oakbaynews.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Patrick brothers who shaped modern hockey also tried, but failed, to remove violence

New history thesis shows efforts to sell a “clean game” in Oak Bay

Central Saanich to formally inform Agricultural Land Commission about soccer pitch proposal

Move is meant for information only with no application having come forward yet

Victoria man to run marathon after overcoming rare cancer diagnosis

Nigel Deacon was diagnosed with ocular melanoma in 2010

Burger sales bring in $5,000 to build Imagination Libraries in Greater Victoria

United Way of Greater Victoria and Big Wheel Burger team up to get kids reading

Donated sculpture in Sidney’s Beacon Park a testament to perseverance

Victoria artist Armando Barbon picked up sculpting 22 years ago

B.C. or Ontario? Residential school survivors fight move of court battle

It’s now up to Ontario’s Court of Appeal to sort out the venue question

POLL: Do you plan on allowing your children to go trick or treating this year?

This popular annual social time will look quite different this year due to COVID-19

Young B.C. cancer survivor rides 105-km with Terry Fox’s brother

Jacob Bredenhof and Darrell Fox’s cycling trek raises almost $90,000 for cancer research

B.C. migrant, undocumented workers rally for permanent residency program

Rally is part of the Amnesty for Undocumented Workers Campaign led by the Migrant Workers Centre

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Preparations underway for pandemic election in Saskatchewan and maybe B.C.

Administrators in B.C. and around the country are also looking to expand voting by mail during the pandemic

Nearly 20 per cent of COVID-19 infections among health-care workers by late July

WHO acknowledged the possibility that COVID-19 might be spread in the air under certain conditions

Ferry riders say lower fares are what’s most needed to improve service

Provincial government announces findings of public engagement process

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dies at 87

The court’s second female justice, died Friday at her home in Washington

Most Read