Tom Sinclair knows if you practice your baseball skills, you get better.
That’s why the Enniskillen man has spent the last 50 years working on those skills with the children of his community.
Sinclair started his baseball career while he was working on Enniskillen Township’s road crew in 1965. He was talking to his co-worker, Glenn Syers, one day and said “Let’s get a house league started.”
So the pair began the township’s program – running games out of the ‘park on Sixth Line’ – now known Krall Park at Shiloh Line.
The program became popular and eventually, Sinclair says, they had 85 kids playing summer ball – four boys teams and two girls teams every Monday and Wednesday nights.
There were some notable faces in the crowd. Sinclair says the Hunter brothers – Oil Springs area boys who eventually played NHL hockey – played a little summer baseball. Sinclair particularly remembers the drive of young Ron Hunter.
“He had a hit and then ran right over the first baseman,” says Sinclair with a grin. “Then he did the same at third. I said to him ‘Ron you don’t have to do that; we’re just here having fun.’ He just looked at me – (the Hunters) always played everything pretty hard.”
Today, Sinclair is still on the diamond at Gorman Park. Every Monday night at 7 pm he runs an instruction softball course where he teaches children as young as three the basics of throwing, hitting, and catching – hoping they’ll catch the love of the game.
While soccer has seemed to take over as the sport of choice for many young families, Sinclair still love to introduce kids to his first love, softball.
“You have to be patient with them,” he says when asked the key to helping little kids on the field. And Sinclair says its worth it even if all they ever do is “kick stones around and play in the sand” or take 10 pitches to hit a ball.
“Every time they’re up, they get a little better and it gives them a little confidence.”