Geelong Baseball Association: an historical snapshot
The following is a snapshot of some of the significant dates in the history of Geelong baseball. We are hopeful, over time, to follow up the earlier fine work of Mark Southall and others in documenting the history of the GBA and its affiliate clubs in far greater detail.
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1889. The first match of "local interest" played at Geelong between Melbourne and Geelong Baseball Clubs. Melbourne won a high-scoring crowd-pleaser 25-15.
1937. The Geelong Baseball Association is formed, with four teams - Fords, North West, South Geelong and Newtown/Chilwell competing. North West defeats Fords 11-2 in the final at the Rugby Oval, Kardinia Park.
1939. Geelong wins the Senior Provincial Championships in its second year of competition.
1955. Affiliation fees set at 30 shillings per team.Geelong had enjoyed VPBL successes in 1939, 1940, 1941, 1944,1949, 1953 and 1954.
1956. Night Baseball Series discussed.
1964. Ford Cup teams - St Bernards, Guild, Diamond, Thomson, North. Marx Cup teams - Diamond, Thomson, Guild,East Geelong Tech, Belmont. A.E.Gear elected life member of the VPBL. Colac organises baseball competition.
1965. Executive issues a directive that "No female be allowed to play in any game" (moved A.Murrells). It was the sixties.
1966. Pitching mats to be compulsory.
1967. Corio enters GBA competition.
1968. Geelong hosts VPBL Championships.
1972. Geelong enters VBA Summer Competition (finishes sixth).
1974. Belmont Common Ground opened on 26 May and called Gordon McKay Field with the Ern Gear Diamond. Aluminium bats are introduced, a boon for hitters and a nightmare for pitchers until their phasing out (the bats, that is) in the new milennium.
1975. Colac Baseball Association begins competition in B Grade.
1976. Batters allowed to wear helmets only to first base if the club has insufficient helmets.
1978. Wallington joins the league (later to become Bellarine).
1979. New diamond at GBA ground named after Arty Murrells.
1980. Deakin Baseball Club (the Blues) enters the competition.
1981. Geelong wins its first VPBL title for 19 years. Rowing course across McKay field is mooted.
1982. Geelong Baseball Club is formed. Geelong hosts VPBL Championships and takes the title for the second consecutive year.
1985. Bacchus Marsh Bears and Williamstown enter the competition.
1986. Lara and Bacchus Marsh Tigers enter the league.
1987. Geelong Baseball Association becomes incorporated.
1994. Ballarat Golddiggers enter as a "lead up" to the World Masters Games in Brisbane. The older guys merge with the Brewers in 1997 - after winning two GBA B Grade flags.
1997. Newcomb leaves Geelong Baseball Association.
1998. Barrabool leaves Geelong Baseball Association.
2002. Opening of the Geelong Baseball Centre in hosting the World Masters Games. The centre is to secure a subsequent string of major baseball events.
2003. The annual Victorian Masters Baseball Carnival is transferred from Ballarat to Geelong.
2004. Melton leaves Geelong Baseball Association.
2006. Geelong Giants win Division 1 Firsts, Seconds and Thirds of Baseball Victoria summer competition.
2006 and 2007. Japan league powerhouse the Chiba Lotte Marines holds training camps and plays exhibition matches at Geelong Baseball Centre during February of each year.
2007. For the first time in living memory, Geelong fails to field a side in the VPBL Senior Championships (in Mildura). The Association was not on its own, though, with Diamond Valley and Ringwood the other notable absentees.
2007. Lara Wildcats take their third consecutive A Grade title, downing a valiant Bacchus Marsh Tigers in a remarkable Grand Final spanning four hours and twelve tense innings.
2008. East Belmont Saints halt Lara's dominance with a 1-0 win in the A Grade Grand Final as right-hander Brad Egan throws the game of his life against the Wildcats.
2009. Guild Lions break a lengthy premiership drought by downing Minor Premiers Ballarat Brewers to take the GBA A Grade title.
2010. Lara takes its fourth A Grade title in six years with a 4-0 whitewash over Guild.
2011. Victorian Masters Baseball Carnival returns home to Ballarat after eight drought years.
2011. Guild produces its best offensive form to down a fumble-fingered Ballarat Brewers in the A Grade Grand Final.
2012. Guild goes back-to-back with a thrilling one-run win over Lara Wildcats.
2013. Although pressured by Lara later in the game, Guild rode another terrific start by Brad Egan to post its third successive A Grade title.
2014. Guild landed its fourth A Grade pennant on the trot, but only after a spirited challenge by Bellarine Bears, which was appearing in its first Grand Final for twelve years.
2015. Guild emulated its league record of five consecutive A Grade premierships with a 7-0 whitewash over Deakin, which could manage just a handful of hits against Brad Egan, a league superstar who again produced the goods when it mattered.
2016. With Tayler Rowe tossing a complete-game blinder, Deakin snapped the run of Guild pennants with a 4-1 win effectively decided in the four-run third innings, although Lions veteran Brad Egan held the Blues scoreless over six subsequent innings of a pitchers' duel.
2017. In an extra-innings thriller that many locals described as the best GBA Grand Final in recent memory, Guild plated two in the bottom of the twelfth to snare the A Grade title 6-5 over a gallant Bellarine, whose Josh Crotty and Simon Murry were terrific on the hill though ultimately shaded by the Lions pairing of evergreen Brad Egan and southpaw Andy Radevski - who spun six innings apiece.
2018. Colac took the step up to A Grade and Newport re-entered the competition after a long absence. Finishing as minor premier, Guild was beaten by Newport in the Qualifying Final but rebounded with a Preliminary Final win over Bellarine to qualify for its tenth consecutive Grand Final. With the remarkable Brad Egan spinning a brilliant complete game, the Lions exploded in the third and forged ahead for a 14-5 win over the Rams - their eighth A Grade title in a decade.
2019. Bellarine snapped a twenty-four year drought in A Grade competition with a 15-7 win over East Belmont Saints. The Bears surged to an early lead and held off a mid-game challenge by the haloes before wrapping up the contest and completing the A Grade/A Reserve title double. The six-team A Grade competition was tightly contested all season, with extra interest provided by the inclusion of new entity Ballarat Royals - an amalgam of the former Mounties and Ballarat Brewers clubs.