Scotia Ball Park’s 50th anniversary has people scouring for as much information as they can to help them celebrate the milestone.
Records show the park opened on July 28, 1971, and several former players were among those who shared softball memories at a recent informal gathering beside the field house. They included Walter Fanning Sr., Walter Fanning Jr., Jim Humphreys and Glen MacKinnon.
Softball was an extremely popular sport in Pictou County and elsewhere when the facility was built and it was considered among the best in the Maritimes.
“I remember people who lined up along the foul lines and filled the stands,” Fanning Sr. said.
Fanning Sr. remembered how he would kid his son when they played together.
“If we were winning, I took the credit and if we were losing, I’d say the young fellow is having a bad game,” he said.
Fanning Jr. was an accomplished junior and senior pitcher. One example is the Nova Scotia team he and fellow Pictou County player Doug Cormier joined for the 1981 Canada Summer Games in Thunder Bay, Ont. The team was inducted into the Nova Scotia Sport Heritage Hall of Fame in 2001.
Nova Scotia was undefeated in seven games en route to its only men’s softball Canada Games gold medal.
Fanning won three of the games. He tossed two hitters as Nova Scotia edged New Brunswick 3-2 in their opener and against Ontario in the gold medal match Nova Scotia won 3-1. He threw a no-hitter and scored the only run in Nova Scotia’s 1-0 win over Alberta.
Cormier was on the team for his pitching and his hitting. He drove in the eventual winning run with a double against New Brunswick and drove in the winning run with another double against Ontario.
MacKinnon underscored the high quality of pitching and the variety of pitches they threw.
“You appreciate pitchers and what they can do if you want to be a hitter,” he said.
Humphreys was introduced to Trenton’s current recreation co-ordinator, Craig Murray, who started the job in February and recently became the town’s rink manager.
Humphreys was the town’s first recreation co-ordinator before becoming a teacher.
The original facility had bleachers and fencing along each foul line, a building for storage on the ground floor, and an announcer’s booth upstairs.
A shed and canteen that were also built remain there, although the canteen has undergone improvements.
Lights installed several years after the ball park opened permitted nighttime action.
The ball park has been one of the most celebrated and best maintained single ball fields in Nova Scotia, and Trenton has been one of the hotbeds for softball for years, with many high-calibre players coming through the system there and going on to play in the Canada Games, national championships and Pan-American Games—several earning gold medals with their respective teams.
Before that, games were played at the older ballfield along Main Street in Trenton.
“I was 16 when the field opened,” MacKinnon said. “We played five or six games at the old field before it opened.”
Cindy MacKinnon, the daughter of Fanning Sr. and sister of Fanning Jr., has been connected with the ball park for years as a player and minor ball organizer through the Trenton and Area Minor Softball Association.
She was joined by fellow softball volunteer Courtney Ross, Murray, and two summer students to host the recent gathering that was intended to expand on the massive collection of photos and other information Ross has compiled to determine who helped build the facility
“We want to hear the stories,” Cindy MacKinnon said. “There’s still a lot we don’t know.”
She was among those who welcomed federal funding in 2017 to help the association renovate, which included new lighting and fencing. The facility also has newer dugouts and storage building.