Milestone man in a league of his own

Milestone man in a league of his own

Alocal baseballer is about to take the diamond for the 1000th time, notching up the historic feat more than 50 years in the making.

The Mount Gambier and District Baseball League believes that when Alan Crouch steps onto the field for his milestone match with his Central side, he will be setting a new record for a country association player.

Alan’s first recorded game is with the Technical High School (now Grant High School) Yankees in 1968.

He followed older brother Geoff to the Central Baseball Club in 1969 with his first game in Minor A on July 12.

He played five games that season and has only missed one full season with the club from that time.

His first Major A game was against South on the July 10, 1971.

Whilst not a regular Division 1 player Alan played 94 games at that level with the remainder being divided between second and third tier levels in the local league.

Alan played in the night seasons in the mid-1970s at Malseed Park when the baseball lights from the showgrounds were erected there.

Al’s primary position is that of catcher – a position he still holds in Division 3.

He was part of the Executive Committee and Social Committee in 1974 and 1975, assistant secretary/treasurer in 1977, Players Rep in 1981 and Equipment Officer in 1983.

Alan had two stints of five and three seasons as Club Secretary between the years 1983-1988 and 1997-2000.

He became Club President in the seasons of 2001/02 and 2002/2003.

Alan has held every position on the Club Committee bar treasurer as he said “Ï never wanted to handle money”.

Alan has been on the general committee for around 30 years.

Alan was highly involved in the club activities and fundraising affairs.

Over 10 years from 1979 the club was involved in running a stall at the local agricultural show which ran over three days and was a major club fundraiser.

He was heavily involved and part of that was packing showbags and working at the stall which sold pies, pasties, hot dogs and of course the showbags.

He was involved in all fundraising activities in all the years he has been playing.

Alan also coached various teams in the club, starting in 1977 – Minor A, 1985/86 and 1986/87- Division 1 second side, 1983/84 and 1984/85 – Division 2, Under 16 1994/95 and 1995/96.

He coached his two sons through their junior baseball teams at the club and also coached their Mount Gambier teams at the Country Carnival at West Beach.

Alan’s aim was to promote baseball in general and for the club’s benefit.

When his two boys were playing baseball for Mulga Street Primary School, he was coaching Reidy Park Primary School.

He also ran T-ball at Blue Lake Sports Park to encourage kids to play baseball.

Over the 56 seasons Alan has played with the club has played and in won 13 premierships including one Division 1in the first summer season of 1980/81, seven Division 2 – 1982/84, 1984/85, 1989/90, 1990/91, 1991/92, 1992/93 and 1996/97, and five in Division 3 – 2008/09, 2009/10, 2010/11, 2011/12 and 2013/14 plus eight losing grand finals.

Club awards came with regularity at end of season presentations.

Over the years Alan has won several Most Valuable Player, Batting Average with the highest award being a Division 2 Best and Fairest for the club and the league in 1980/81 and a second club Best and Fairest in the same grade in 1993/94.

The ultimate club award came in 1988 when Alan was awarded life membership.

He was also presented with the prestigious Wilkins Family Award for the Most Valuable Club Person twice in 1998/99 and 2002/2003 along with his wife Karen.

The culmination of an outstanding career would have been his selection in the Mount Gambier representative team for the Country Carnival at Glenelg in 1986.

Although he has played in numerous local lightning carnivals and several Masters Games in Central colours, the games played have not been included as information is not available, Alan has currently played 997 officially recorded games and will play his 1000th game with the club on the February 15 against sister team Central and still 

Wife Karen became part of Alan’s baseball life when they met in 1970.

Since that time she has been very involved in the Central Baseball Club.

She was on the General, Ladies and Fundraising Committees of the club for over 30 years, learnt to score and is still scoring Alan’s team to this day.

Her first scoring assignment was on the back of an envelope where she just recorded the runs.

However, she was taught to score properly by well renowned local scorer Marj Cooke in the early 1970s.

Karen sometimes did three scoring assignments a day.

When baseball moved to the summer of 1980 Karen was wholly in charge of the league canteen, a position she held for five years.

Also, at that time she was President of the Mount Gambier and District Baseball League Ladies Committee.

For around 10 years the club ran a stall at the local agricultural show and Karen was instrumental in setting up and stocking this particular stall.

She was involved very heavily in Central’s fundraising efforts from the mid 1970s.

In the 1970s winter baseball was played at Frew Park where there were no facilities to speak of.

Parents of one of the players started selling drinks and lollies from the rear of their station wagon.

When they “retired” Karen took on the job eventually using a drinks van from a local company, all to raise funds for the Central Baseball Club.

Karen also organised many of the end of season wind-ups during the 1980s.

She was awarded the prestigious highly valued Club Trophy, the Wilkins Family Award for the Most Valuable Club Person on two occasions in 1985/86 and 2002/03 and Life Membership was bestowed on Karen in 2001.

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