Flinders University Baseball and Softball Club – a short history
During the first few weeks of the University year in 1966, the very first year that Flinders University was opened, a small group of students gathered together to discuss the possibility of forming a baseball club. These students included Roger Thompson, Peter Daniel, Maurie Wetherall, Kev Gillis and Ross Hosking who formed the nucleus of the group that got the Flinders University Baseball Club started. Along with additions of Malcolm Thompson, Alex Stevenson, Garth Hunt and V Fulwood a team was put together in Minor C grade and uniforms designed and made locally. Practices were held on wednesdays and with the addition of Guilio Vida mid season, who was a pitcher, the team won some games (6 wins, 1 draw, 11 losses). Whilst it was not a highly successful season it was a solid foundation for the origins of the club.
Interest increased in the following years with more teams being entered and in 1967 for the first time a team was sent to Intervarsity to compete against other Universities around the country. This culminated in 1969 in Flinders University winning the Intervarsity Baseball Championship, the first sporting side to do so at the campus. The other major change came with the move from the South Australian Baseball Season from winter to summer. Due to the University year following the winter more closely there was some disappointment that the club would now be focused solely on the winter season, however such was the nature of the development of baseball in South Australia and the club began its focus on Winter Baseball.
From 1970 the Flinders Uni Baseball Club regularly entered two teams (sometimes three) in the SA Winter Baseball Season and this began dominance especially in Division One with many premierships won through from 1970 to the 1990’s. The Club was led very capably by David Gooley who acted as Division One coach through the majority of this era and as the Club President. Highlights included 5 Division One premierships in a row from 1973 to 1977 and finals appearances in almost every season.
Mention must also be made of Hugh Franke who coached the “B Grade” team at Flinders through much the 1980s and 1990s and then was a member of the Fossils team (also as coach). Hughs contribution not only existed with coaching but he was an active member of the committee including acting as President and Treasurer. For his outstanding contribution Hugh was named a Life Member of the Club.
In 1991 for the first time since 1975 a team was entered in the Intervarsity Championships as Matt Miles, a new student at the University, organised a team to travel to Melbourne. Whilst the team only won two games, it was the beginning of the spark of a new influx of students into the Baseball Club . At the end of 1991, David Gooley retried as coach and key club organiser and a new committee was formed with some new students including Matt Miles, Simon Robinson and Darren Medley along with former club members Hugh Franke acting as President and David Gully taking the role of Division One coach.
From this time the 1990s saw unprecedented growth for the Club which included a gradual increase in playing numbers from two winter baseball teams in 1991 to by the end of the decade the Flinders Uni baseball Club boasted; 6 winter baseball teams, teams entered each year at Intervarsity (now called Australian University Games of championships)- including Gold Medals wins in Baseball in 1995 and 1999. Re-Introduction of softball in 1993 with Mens and Womens teams entered (the Mens A team winning four premierships in a row, and the Mens B also winning a premiership) and re-introduction of Summer Baseball, firstly by entering teams through Adelaide Baseball Club but later in its own right, which has continued up until this day. By the end of the 1990s the Flinders University Baseball and Softball Club (the name change reflected the new advent of Softball into the club) with a membership of well over one hundred people was arguably the biggest and strongest University Baseball Club in the country.
The beginning of the new Millennium saw some turnover in the Club with many of the players of the previous decade retiring or moving on and numbers declined. However currently Flinders University Baseball and Softball fields 4 teams in the SA Winter Baseball competition and is one of the largest “winter baseball” clubs and at least one team has been entered every year in the South Australian Baseball League since 1993. There have also been teams entered at the University Games reasonably regularly over the last ten years.
The following document has been authored as a record of the Flinders University Baseball and Softball Club Honour Board, record of perpetual trophies/awards and teams entered in various competions since the Clubs origin in1966. If there are any aspects that are incomplete please contact Matthew Miles on 0439 184 020 or firstname.lastname@example.org