1979 Game Reports, Vancouver Island     

1979 Vancouver, Lower Mainland, Fraser Valley 
1979 BC Interior 
1979 Vancouver Island   

1979 MID-ISLAND SENIOR BASEBALL LEAGUE

This six-team circuit, wherein games were billed for seven-innings’ duration, encompassed teams from Campbell River, Lake Cowichan and two entries each from Nanaimo and Port Alberni, with the expansion Phillies being the new entry from the latter community. For the previous four seasons, the loop was dominated by the Nanaimo Discosport A’s, the A’s having reeled off four consecutive league titles coming into the 1979 campaign. Accordingly, the Nanaimo Daily News spotlighted their coverage of 1979 league happenings almost exclusively on the A’s to the detriment of the Hub City’s second and equally competitive diamond pastimers, the Villa Canadians. Usage of a designated hitter in league game was permitted.

Teams
Campbell River
Lake Cowichan Lakers
Nanaimo Discosport A’s
Nanaimo Villa Canadians
Port Alberni 68’ers
Port Alberni Phillies

(May 13)  The Discosport A’s of Nanamo split their Mid-Island League season-opening doubleheader with the Lake Cowichan Lakers at Serauxmen Stadium. The A’s lost the first game 5 to 4 but came back with an impressive 5 to 0 shutout victory in the second contest. Starting pitcher Steve Whittam of the A’s was banished to the showers in favor of reliever Terry Kleisinger after 3-1/2 innings of the opener and was saddled with the loss. The A’s had only six safeties and committed three errors. Ron Andrews and Grant Forrest collected two hits apiece for the triumphant Lakers as Andrews’ brace of safe swats produced three RBI’s. The A’s jumped on Lakers’ starter Brad Palmer in the first inning of the nightcap, scoring a pair. They added two more in the second and one in the fourth. Gordie Dumont and Rocky Kukulak led the way for the winners with two hits each while Gary Yakelashek’s lone bingle drove in a brace of counters. Bruce Willgress pitched a solid game for the A’s, yielding but four hits while fanning five in going the route.

(May 20)  The hosting Lake Cowichan Lakers took on the Nanaimo Discosport A’s in doubleheader action and were a bit too hospitable as they allowed the visitors to escape with a sweep of both contests, by 3 to 2 and 2 to 0 scores. Doubles by Mike Forest in the first stanza and Brad Palmer in the second panel of the opening tussle led to a brace of counters as both eventually scored, staking the Cowichan nine to an early 2 to 0 lead. The A’s evened things in the third following back-to-back run-producing singles by Jim Luck and Dan Rogers. A one-bagger by Ted Boe drove in Luck with the eventual winner in the seventh. Rogers was the top willow-wielder in the encounter, going three-for-three at the dish. A’s slabman Bruce Willgress hurled a five-hitter and punched out six in recording his second mound triumph.  

In the second game, A’s pitcher Steve Whittam was in top form, twirling a one-hitter in taking the whitewash win. The lone safety he surrendered was a hard-hit single by Ron Andrews to the right side of the infield which the A’s couldn’t handle. The Nanaimo nine scored both of their tallies in the sixth. Second baseman Gordie Dumont started things off by spanking the sphere for a two-bagger. After advancing to third on a sacrifice bunt by Bruce Willgress, Dumont found himself caught in a pickle when Dennis Clarke’s grass-cutter was fielded by the Lakers’ hot corner custodian and the hot-box rundown began. Fortunately for Dumont and the A’s, the Cowichan catcher unloaded an errant throw during the chase and Dumont scored easily. The A’s added an insurance marker when Jim Luck singled, stole second, advanced to third on an infield groundout and touched home on a successful squeeze bunt by Ted Boe

(May 23)  Two Nanaimo adversaries locked horns at Serauxman Stadium in a Mid-Island Baseball League clash and the Villa Canadians prevailed over their crosstown rivals, the Discosport A’s, 2 to 1. The Villa diamond troopers went ahead 2 to 0 in the fourth frame. Terry Keisinger, the A’s starting heaver, gave up singles to Scott Johnson and Steve Dalman and then walked a batter to load the sacks with no one out. Kleisinger started to work himself out of this jam when he rang up Morgan Baldwin and Murray Bamford on whiffs. But when Ross Cooper followed with a bloop shot along the third base line, A’s hot corner custodian Ted Boe unwisely threw behind him to third base in a late force out attempt instead of taking the sure out at first, allowing Johnson to scamper home from third unscathed. A free pass to Craig Rodway then forced in Dalman with the second Villa marker. The A’s notched their lone counter of the skirmish in the fifth when first baseman Al Hill, just back from the NHL wars as a member of the Philadelphia Flyers, went yard with a long solo-dinger. The Villa balltossers appeared ready to increase their margin in the sixth when Cooper and Rodway connected for back-to-back singles but Hill, who at this point had replaced Kleisinger on the bump, showed his best move in picking both runners off.  

(May 27)  Exhibition game action at Serauxmen Stadium saw the Nanaimo Discosport A’s of the Mid-Island loop get past the visiting Victoria Capital Iron squad twice, blanking the Capital City aggregation 3 to 0 to begin things and then wrapping up the double-dip with a 3 to 1 conquest of the Ironmen. A third inning sacrifice fly off the bat of Dan Rogers allowed Dave Barker to tag up and score from the hot corner sack with the initial Discosport run in the opener. The A’s plated their final pair of tallies in the bottom-of-the-fifth when Barker singled and was sacrificed to second by Dennis Clarke. After Victoria moundsman Dale Aule hit Rocky Kurulak with a pitch, putting runners at first and second, singles by Jim Luck and Ted Boe drove both runners in. The Nanaimo contingent outhit the Scrap Dealers five to three in the well-pitched match in which the A’s slab artist Steve Whittam dazzled on the hill.

In the follow-up fracas, the A’s got on the scoreboard in the first inning when Jim Luck walked, advanced to third on a single by Dan Rogers and scored on a wild pitch. They made it 2 to 0 in the second chapter when Dennis Clarke turned a bunt into a base hit, stole second and scored when Dave Barker smashed a double. Discosport’s final tally came in the third when Ted Boe reached base on an error, swiped second, advanced to third on an out and scored on a wild pitch by losing chucker Larry Wedgewood. Dan Rogers and Al Hill split the mound chores for the A’s with the former getting credit for the bump triumph.

(June 3)  The Nanaimo Discosport A’s swept a pair of Mid-Island League games from the homestanding Port Alberni Phillies and gained some ground on the league-leading and cross-town rival Nanaimo Villa contingent. While the Canadians were dividing a twin-bill with the Port Alberni 68’ers, the A’s were experiencing little difficulty in disposing of the expansion Phillies, jumping on the Port Alberni nine 11 to 2 in the matinee tussle and then doubling their hosts 6 to 3 in the finale. After the dust had settled following weekend action, the Villa Canadians still led the circuit with an 8 – 1 record, followed by the 68’ers at 7 – 2. The Discosport A’s, having played two fewer games, stood at 5 – 2.

In the matinee contest at Port Alberni, Discosport chucker Bruce Willgress spun a five-hitter in taking the complete-game victory. The Phillies scored both of their counters in the third spasm when Kirk McGiffin, after Tony Powell had reached base with a single, unloaded on a Willgress offering for a two-run round-tripper. The A’s, meanwhile, were busy putting across a pair of runs in the first, another deuce in the third, a triad in the fifth and, finally, a four-spot in the seventh. Key run-producing hits during the early scoring sprees came from Gary Yakelashek, Ted Boe and Ken Brodyk with doubles and Dave Barker with a three-bagger.

The A’s struck quickly in the sunset encounter, plating an unearned opening-frame tally after Rocky Kurulak had reached base with a one-bagger. A bottom-of-the-panel counter plated by Kirk McGiffen, who spanked the horsehide for four safe swats in six at bats during the two games, evened things up. After singling, the Phillies’ slugger made his way around to third and crossed the dish when A’s heaver, Terry Kleisinger, unloaded a wild pitch. Run-scoring singles by Gary Yakelashek and Rick Neff in the third put the visitors from Nanaimo in front 3 to 1, and they were never headed from there. The A’s enjoyed a 9 to 5 edge in base hits during this wind-up scuffle.

(June 6)  Intense cross-town rivalry defined the mid-week joust at Serauxmen Stadium in which Discosport A’s dumped the first-place Villa Canadians 15 to 6 in the second battle of Nanaimo this season. The A’s outswatted the Canadians by an 11 to 6 margin and rode the wave of three-run outbursts in each of the first three stanzas and a five-spot in the fourth to build up an insurmountable lead. Errors were costly to both teams in this clash, especially the Canadians, who uncharacteristically booted the ball on ten occasions.The victory for the A’s improved their Mid-Island record to 6 – 2 while the league-leading Canadians fell to 8 – 2. The winners displayed a balanced offensive attack in putting down their adversaries. Al Hill notched three singles while timely blows that sent ducks on the pond homeward bound were stroked by Ted Boe, Bill Bestwick and Hill. Run-producing safeties from the camp of the vanquished nine came off the lumber of Norm Attig, Murray Bamford and Morgan Baldwin. Steve Whittam, who received relief help from Terry Kleisinger late in the game, grabbed the pitching win. The Villa nine used three chuckers in this nightmare for them. Starter and loser Don Slaughter was followed on the bump in the fourth by Grant Thompson who, in turn, was given the hook in the fifth in favor of Ross Cooper.

(June 10)  After the Nanaimo Discosport A’s swept a brace of Mid-Island Baseball League games from the invading Port Alberni Phillies, they found themselves breathing down the neck of the the Nanaimo Villa Canadians in their struggle for top spot in the loop. The two wins, by scores of 4 to 3 and 9 to 3, upped the Discosport record in league competition to 8 – 2.

The Phillies, a much-improved ball club, threatened to take the first game after scoring once in each of the opening two innings. A wild pitch by A’s tosser Terry Kleisinger in the first frame allowed Glen Saunders, who had reached base early in the inning on a single, to trot home with their first tally. Glen Kocsis plated the second Port Alberni marker in the second spasm when he, too, nailed a one-bagger and came around to score following a sacrifice and a Nanaimo throwing error. The A’s gained control of things in the fourth, putting up a four-spot on the scoreboard. Designated hitter Ken Brodyk’s run-scoring two-bagger got things rolling in that pivotal stanza. When the Phillies’ Bob Shick touched home in the sixth panel after singling to reach base, things got tense for the homesters but Kleisinger rose to the occasion and shut the door the rest of the way.

Starting pitcher Steve Whittam of the A’s appeared shaky on the rubber in the owl encounter as the Phillies rocked him for a deuce in the top-of-the-first chapter but he settled down after that rough beginning and earned the win, although relinquishing mound chores to portsider Al Hill in the fourth. The Discosport nine plugged away at the early deficit with single runs in each of the first, second and third innings to take the lead. A six-run fourth inning put the A’s well in front and virtually sealed the deal. 

(June 13)  The Villa Canadians blanked the Discosport A’s 1 to 0 as round three between the Hub City foes went into the books at Serauxmen Stadium as a classic battle. The Canadians regained sole possession of top spot in the Mid-Island circuit with the important triumph. The game featured a close pitcher’s duel between Villa’s Don Slaughter and Discosport’s Bruce Willgress. Slaughter had a strong outing, surrendering five well-scattered bingles. The only run of the game came after A’s shortstop Bill Bestwick’s throw to first base on Jim Bayliss’ ground ball pulled initial sacker Al Hill off the pillow in a close play. Bayliss advanced to second on a passed ball, moved to third on an out and scored when catcher Bruce Molander couldn’t corral a nasty bender from Willgress. The great infield defense displayed in this encounter by  the Canadians completely shut down the A’s offense. The loss for Willgress was his first of the season coupled with three wins. The Villa Canadians retain first place with a 10 – 3 showing for the campaign while the A’s are in the runner-up position with an 8 – 3 record, with two games in hand.

(June 16)  A group of former professional baseball players, who refer to their team as the “Old Pros”, stopped off in Nanaimo as part of their provincial tour and played a friendly exhibition tilt with the Discosport A’s of the Mid-Island Baseball League before a packed bleacher crowd at Serauxmen Stadium. Although the locals scored a run in their first turn at bat, in the end they were edged 2 to 1 by the veteran band of diamondeers, the 15th conquest they have achieved in as many outings. The game followed a full-day development camp, attended by approximately 160 boys, who received instruction on baseball fundamentals from the ex-pros. Rick Neff’s first-inning single sent Jim Luck home with the lone Nanaimo counter which didn’t stand up long as runs in the second chapter by 36 year old Wayne Norton, former AAA player in the Oakland A’s chain, and Rob Arnold sent the tourists in front for good. Bob Lasko, who pitched for 11 seasons in the New York Yankees’ system, with fifth-inning relief assistance from Arnold, another former Yankees’ farmhand, got the win while lefthander Al Hill, who hurled for the A’s until the sixth, took the loss.  

(June 17)  The Nanaimo Villa Canadians hit a big snag in their quest to de-throne the Nanaimo Discosport A’s as Mid-Island League champions when they dropped both ends of a doubleheader to the Lake Cowichan Lakers by scores of 4 to 3 and 4 to 0. The Canucks, who have led the pack for most of the campaign, saw their record drop to 10 – 5 and are now in peril of dropping into third place in the circuit. The Lakers struck early in both games, leaving the hosting Villa nine in somewhat of a state of shock. A pinch-hit two-run homer by Sheldon Harrington late in the opener gave the Canadians some hope of a comeback but that desire was quickly doused by Cowichan tosser Mike Forrest who whiffed the final three hitters to end the game. Steve Zboyovsky set the Hub City nine down of five hits in taking the second-game whitewash win. Ross Cooper and Don Slaughter were the Canadians’ pitchers of record in the double defeat.

(June 17)  With a two-game sweep of the hosting Campbell River nine, the defending champion Nanaimo Discosport A’s jumped into first-place in the Mid-Island Baseball League. The A’s, whose record now stands at 10 – 3, dominated the twin-bill, blanking the hosts 9 to 0 to begin the afternoon before outscoring the Salmon Capital nine 6 to 1 in the nightcap. Rookie Terry Kleisinger tossed a no-hit, no-run gem in the lid-lifter while his mates on the A’s were busy banging out 13 safeties.

In the wind-up encounter, Steve Willgress of the A’s collected the complete-game win with a four-hitter. The Nanaimo swatters stung the sphere for a dozen safeties in this skirmish.

(June 24)  Playing in the Royal City, the Mid-Island League’s Nanaimo Discosport A’s and the New Westminster Auroras of the Metro League split an exhibition double-bill, the A’s taking the opener 3 to 1 but dropping the second encounter 8 to 1. Nanaimo pitcher Bruce Willgress had a stellar outing on the hill in the matinee tilt, holding the Auroras to five hits. Picking up extra-base blows for the winners were Al Hill who smashed a triple into the left centre field alley and Dan Rogers who pounded a two-bagger on a drive into right centre.

The New Westminster swatsmiths came to life in the third chapter of the second contest, staging a five-run outburst which pretty well decided the issue.

(June 27)  The Discosport A’s of the Mid-Island Baseball League evened their season series with their Nanaimo cousins, the Villa Canadians, when they downed the slump-ridden Canadians 6 to 4 at Serauxmen Stadium. The A’s made the most of their scoring opportunities in grabbing a stronger hold on first place. At the same time, the free-falling Villas were making some costly errors, the result of which shoved them over the brink into elimination from the Mid-Island pennant race. Portsider Al Hill took the mound verdict with some relief help from Bruce Willgress while Don Slaughter was tagged with the defeat. The losers staged a last-inning comeback attempt that was snuffed out by a double play and a game-ending strikeout. The A’s, having sidelined their crosstown rivals from the pennant chase, still have the second-place Port Alberni 86’ers to worry about as the schedule nears its end. 

(July 1-2)  Lake Cowichan tournament

(July 15)  Needing only a split in their final two games to clinch the league title, the Nanaimo Discosport A’s went one better and downed their closest pursuers, the Port Alberni 68’ers, twice in double-dip action at Serauxmen Stadium. Their 8 to 0 conquest of the Port Alberni nine in the opener earned them their fifth consecutive Mid-Island League championship but, instead of letting up in a meaningless second encounter, the A’s went back on the diamond and came away with a 7 to 3 verdict over the league runners-up. Winning slabman Bruce Willgress was given plenty of run support in the introductory contest as his mates lit up ace moundsman, Paul LeBlanc, of the visitors for a four-spot in the second, a singleton in the third and consecutive deuces in the in the fourth and sixth stanzas.

Discosport designated hitter Rick Neff had a home run, double, three runs scored and three RBI’s to lead A’s offensively in the second clash.

(August 5)   In a slugfest at Enderby, Victoria All-Stars got by Nanaimo 15-12 in the second game of a two-game final to win the BC Senior "B" Men's Baseball championship.  Nanaimo had blanked Victoria 4-0 in what could have been the championship game of the double knockout tournament. The wild contest featured 32 hits, including seven home runs. Winning pitcher was Terry Adams who relieved in the fifth inning and finished the game. Paul LeBlanc was tagged with the loss. He came on in the seventh inning after pitching a shutout for Nanaimo in the first game.