THE HISTORY OF WESTERN DISTRICTS BASEBALL CLUB INC.
If you have heard that Western Districts Baseball Club Inc was first created over beers at a pub you have heard right.
In the early 1950’s Rex Whiting started the Original Club “Victory Baseball Club”. It appears all the first players played cricket during the summer months and wanted something to do during the winter months. Rex, who happened to live at the Victory Hotel, started up the Club with those cricketers who had nothing to do during winter (Brisbane baseball was played in winter back then).
The team played in the B Grade and their first playing uniforms were “hand-me-downs” i.e. the old Queensland state uniforms. Victory Baseball Club colors, in those early days, were based on those old Queensland uniform – maroon and white.
In 1961 the growing Brisbane baseball competition required participating Clubs to field a minimum of two playing teams. To continue in the competition Souths Baseball Club who had an A grade team and Victory Baseball Club who has a B grade teams joined and became Victory Souths Baseball Club. A third club Western Suburbs Baseball Club folded and their players joined the newly formed Victory Souths Baseball Club. The new entity fielded teams in A, B and C Grade that first year. For those wondering there were no junior teams at Victory Souths in those early years.
In those first years funds were scarce so the newly formed Club teams played in those “hand-me-down” uniforms; A grade wore the old Souths uniforms (which were blue and white) and the other two teams wore the Victory ones (maroon and white).
In the early 1950’s baseball games were played at Windsor Park No. 1 and No. 2 fields, Graceville Memorial Park, New Farm Park, Kalinga Park and at Spring Street Ipswich. In 1958 Bannister Park came into the competition and in 1962 O’Grady Park was played on too. Hero’s Park at Taringa (now an athletic club) was the home ground for Victory Souths Baseball Club in 1964. Holloway Field at Newmarket (the now home ground for Windsor Royals) was first used in 1965.
In 1969 the following players played in the A Grade Brisbane competition for Victory Souths:-
Tim Bassingthwaite Eric Bassingthwaite Brian (Bertie) Gannon
Les Clifford Charlie Bretherton Keith Reed
Keith Upton Greg Toohey Ted Winnert
Youngsters Peter Dutton and Mike Prater also played a few games in A Grade that year (line-up taken from actual fixture score book).
From that first team our Club’s first Life Members came in to being over the following years of the “new” Club – Tim and Eric Bassingthwaite, Keith Upton, Ted Winnert and Barry Wheatland.
In 1970 the Club changed its name to Western Districts Baseball Club. From 1975 to 1979 Wests home ground was at the then Western Districts Australian Football Club in Chelmer. In 1978 Wests moved next door to the main field of Sherwood Australian Football Club’s grounds to 1980. From 1980 until May 1990 Wests played at Dunlop Park, Corinda, and the home of the Oxley United Soccer Club. The Club incorporation was on 22nd February 1988.
During the 1980’s Western Districts won the A Grade pennant a record five years in a row (I had the honor of being their scorer from 1980 to 1991) and watched many a home run fly over the fences for another great win. Wests have had many great players over the years that have made both State and National teams and we continue to offer the avenue for today’s roster of players to be the best they can be. As a Club we have also provided Umpires, Coaches and Scorers support in their quest to be the best in their field of expertise as well.
The Darra Dump closed in the mid-late 1970’s. It was time for Wests to try and get their own baseball specific playing field(s). The 1981 / 1982 President Peter Blocksidge and Honorary Vice President Ed Matthews went though the application process with the Brisbane City Council to obtain the lease of land where the Darra dump stood. After many meetings with the Brisbane City Council Westerns Districts Baseball Club Inc was granted a lease on the area now known as Atthow’s Park Westcombe Street Darra – the “Dump-o-Dome”. They had to wait for the ground to settle (remember it was a dump) but in 1991 Wests played their first home game on what is now Diamond 2.
Diamond 1 was first played on in 1997 and continues to be the Major A grade competition field. The Club named Diamond 1 after one of its most hard working members Arthur Mehlhose in 2005. Artie was always there for the Club mowing or marking the fields, doing any job he could to help us, any day any time. He was the A Grade Manager (now called Executive Officer EO) for 15+ years, a Life Member with his wife Dawn and very supportive of his two sons Peter and Philip during their playing career. He passed on in 1994.
The Club spent the next 14 years surviving the rise and fall of baseball in Queensland. We invited Centenary Stormers Soccer Club as co-lessees in the early 2000s when they lost the use of their playing fields and Brisbane City Council leasing agreements required leased grounds to have all round use. Through trials and tribulations, lots of wins and our share of losses the Club continues to be a Club to be proud of; the “Bulldog” Spirit exists in us all. We won the A Grade pennant again in 2009/2010 and with the Brisbane City Council’s help we start the 2011/12 season on our refurbished grounds.
Hon Treasurer and Life Member