Rutland Minor Baseball Association
Established in 1962
On Moyer Road, just off of Rutland Road, you will find a large beautiful playing field with ball diamonds, backstops and playground paraphernalia. The grounds are well-kept, the grass is green, and the buildings are in good repair. On one of the buildings and by the gate are signs that read,
"Edith Gay Playground"
On this playground, thousands of children have enjoyed the privilege of playing baseball and having fun. Thousands of parents and adults alike have enjoyed watching their children play, but how many people know the story behind it all?
This is a love story, a story of true love!
A story of love for children(all children) and for her fellow man.
This is a story of Edith Gay.
By Anna Bach
A "moment" is described in the dictionary as an essential element; a deciding point, fact, or consideration; an essential or influential circumstance.
Whatever you decide the moment, fact or influential circumstance was that brought Rutland Minor Baseball to fruition, is monumental. Will we ever know the one moment when a person decided to start Rutland Minor Baseball? Probably not. One thing is certain, the countless men and women who poured hours of sweat, blood and tears to make this Association a success is endless. In my research in trying to find out who began the history of our Association, I came across amazing and wonderful facts that I would like to share with all of you.
My own first experience of organized baseball in the Rutland District came in the early summer of 1909, at a Sunday School picnic on a farm then owned by the Flemings.
The boys and young men got together and chose up sides for the baseball game, the main feature of the day.
The crowd was regaled with an exciting, but not to skillful an exhibition, in which errors and high scoring were featured.
Everybody had a wonderful time.
It was all in fun, and an error was just one more laugh, and not a tragedy and unforgiveable sin that it became in later years.
I can not remember who the pitchers or star players were, but know the Fleming boys and Dilworth brothers made up quite a number of players.
I rated a spot in the line up by virtue of owning a real baseball glove, brought with me from Calgary.
In 1913, thanks to the foresight of the Public School trustees, a Kelowna and District School League was formed.
Regular games played every Saturday afternoon, with 4 teams in the league; Rutland, Ellison, Kelowna Public and High Schools. Some very fine players were developed, amongst them the Dalgleishg brothers, Allen and Ken, who were Rutland School's battery for many years.
Shortly after 1914-1918 war broke out and baseball with other organized sports died out.
As told by A.W. Gray
In 1962, the Wally Paul's came to Rutland with their baseball loving boys. Wally attended a Parks and Recreation meeting to see about starting a Little League in Rutland. He was told it was out of the question. Affiliation was too expensive and the Park board did not have the funds to help them get started. At this meeting (one of many), were Mr. and Mrs. Slim (Marvin) Coghill.
They had no children, but saw the need for supervised baseball. An organizational meeting was held by Wally Paul in March of 1962, where coaches, managers and umpires were elected along with an Executive with Adam Flegel being the first President. Following him were Clarence Mallach, Otto Schneider, Bill Wostradowski and Tom Jorsvik. Ron Angus was 1st Vice-President, Mrs. Coghill the first Secretary, and Mrs. Otto Graf the first Treasurer.
The need for insurance for the League was necessary so the group approached local merchants thus raising $136.50. Various raffles were held to boost funds for this required insurance. Rutland Little League Association, as it was first known, was born. The original teams were the Rutland Pirates, Braves, Tigers and Reds. Practices were held Saturday mornings and Tuesday evenings, in the park. It is noted that a letter from Mr. Macklin (school board) was received, giving them permission to use the school grounds.
Also it appears that more boys than anticipated registered, and the decision was made to have 12 boys per team, with the remainder to be formed into farm teams. The first farm teams were the Rockets and the Jets. All of this took place between April and June of 1962. The realization surfaced that older boys also needed something to do too, so it was decided to start a Pony League; along with a Mother's Auxiliary, mostly to help raise money. In 1963 it was suggested that land could be purchased somewhere for the little fellows to play on, as it seemed all other ball diamonds were usually not available. Also as affiliation with Little League was still out of the question, it was decided to call the organization the:
Rutland Minor Baseball Association
Cue Miss Edith Gay
Somewhere along the way, Miss Edith Gay became aware of the need for a field for the youngsters to play, so, given her fondness for children coupled with being a very soft hearted person, she DONATED her piece of pasture land, approximately 12 acres. She wanted this land to be turned over to the children of Rutland for a playground, to be used by all as a park. Playoff time was usually around the last Sunday in June with Miss Gay having the honor of pitching the first ball after making her little speech to commence the day. She loved it immensely.
Edith Gay Playground was known as Lot 39, Plan 425. You now know it as Edith Gay Playground, 305 Moyer Road.
There was a stipulation however that this land must be kept up as a playground with yearly improvements, etc. Should it at any time be neglected or left unattended, it was to go to the United Church of Canada, to do with as they see fit.
Miss Gay sold it to Rutland Minor Baseball for $1. Miss Gay, also known as "Edie", was told by her lawyer she was crazy and said..."You could sell those 12 acres and make yourself some money". Edie just looked at him and said...
"I don't want money. I want to make the children happy. I want them to have Edith Gay Playground"
This is only a small part of the story. Miss Edith Gay did so much for her community that there are not enough words or ink to describe them all. Miss Gay was named Rutland's Citizen of the Year in 1969 and could not understand why she was being honored.
Edie's motto was,
"It's a give and take the whole way through. For that's a game of win and lose
And this is how you play:
Be generous and give, then be gracious and receive.
Give a little, take a little, if success you would achieve.
You've got to stand alone and take your share.
There's always something you can give, something you can share.
A smile perhaps, a helping hand, a kindly deed.
You've got to keep on giving something if you would succeed."
As told by A.W. Gray...
Miss Edith Gay passed away on June 30th, 1980.
The transaction of the Deed unfortunately took quite some time to complete due to many complications which arose throughout, the most important of which was the delay in getting the Quit Claim Deed back from the United Church of Canada duly executed.
On June 21, 1972, the lawyers firm of Gies, Salloum, Doak & Company sent this letter to Rutland Minor Baseball and I quote;
Re: Rutland Minor Baseball Assoc.
We are pleased to advise that Title No. G15917F has now been issued in the name of Rutland Minor Baseball Association.
Gies, Salloum, Doak & Co.
Grant E. Shirreff
Kind of sends chills down your spine.
The entire transaction cost $170.65 (lawyer's fee's, paper work, go figure).
The more I discover about RMBA's history, I have come to understand the endless parade of volunteers, coaches, businesses and sponsors that supported Miss Gay and Rutland Minor Baseball. Families such as the Wostradowskis, Schnieders, Vandales, Stearns, Weningers, Nakas, Salis, just to name a few. Individuals such as Erna Mallach (pretty sure there is a road named after her), Clarice Weninger, Delores Stearns, Lloyd Nelson, Ann Flegal and Winnie Bach (sure she has a road too) just a handful there. The list is just too long to name everybody.
The businesses, Cooper's Foods, L & D Petch, Sports Den, Kelly Douglas Foods and so on. Did you know you could buy 4 dozen donuts for $1.60 back in 1971? 20 dozen Pogo Pops for $14.00?
1 gallon of pickles for $1.89 in 1973!!
So if you ever hear any of the names that have been mentioned in this stroll down memory lane, take a moment and smile.
They have worked relentlessly to provide our children of today with a legacy to be proud of.
A place to smile, A place to laugh,
A place to play.
Miss Edith Gay
December 1893 - June 3 1980