For just the second time, the Western Ontario Baseball Association (WOBA) has presented a lifetime membership award.
Fittingly, Mitchell’s Doug Wolfe received the honour during the Rookie tournament held in Mitchell Aug. 6.
Barb Henry, Co-President of WOBA, made the presentation prior to the final of the WOBA Major Rookie tournament that Mitchell has hosted the past number of years, all under Wolfe’s leadership.
Henry explained that the special recognition called “The WOBA Life Time Membership” recognizes individuals who have spent many years giving to baseball both at their local level and at the WOBA.
Ron Pegg, the founder of the WOBA, Flesherton Minor Ball as well as being a member of the Ontario Baseball Association (OBA) Hall of Fame in the Builders category, is the other worthy recipient.
“Doug has been involved in baseball for three decades both at the local Mitchell level and WOBA level but also at the OBA as a voting delegate,” Henry said. “He has worked tirelessly for the good of the young players in Mitchell, not so much for the coaches, but always for the kids.”
Henry said that even though Wolfe has been at the WOBA Board of Directors table for many years, he is one of the most “forward thinking” people there.
“He’s always thinking and working towards growing ball and making it better,” she said, pointing out that Wolfe developed the “Blast Ball/Soccer” program about 10 years ago that got kids and parents in Mitchell interested and involved in ball again when programs everywhere were struggling.
Flesherton followed his lead and they now are alive and well again thanks to Wolfe’s idea and hard work.
Wolfe is also responsible for envisioning the present system used in the WOBA where all children play in league play and they then have an opportunity to try out for the centre’s OBA team.
“He understands the importance of building strong teams at the league level in order to develop skills and a love of baseball before moving to the higher levels,” she said.
“Doug is a man of few words but when he says ‘I’ve been thinking’ at the WOBA board table we all stop and listen,” she continued. “We listen out of respect but we also listen because we know that it will be worth listening to. The executive regard him as our ‘elder statesman’ and go to him for his wisdom and experience when working on difficult issues and he’s always there for us.”
Wolfe’s son Adam also provided some information on his work with Mitchell Minor Baseball, explaining that 26 years ago Wolfe and a friend, Gary Smith, were wishing that there was hardball in Mitchell instead of just fastball so they started to inquire. Wolfe contacted Ron Pegg, then the president of the WOBA, who invited them to meet with the WOBA Board in order to get the process started. That first year Doug and Gary were able to put together one team and Mitchell Minor Baseball was born. Within a few years they had a full slate of teams.
Over the next 26 years Wolfe was the president of Mitchell Minor Baseball and was the WOBA rep, missing only two meetings in 26 years. He was WOBA vice-president and president for several years as well as serving many terms on the executive, and is presently director of the South.
At the local level, Wolfe has coached at least one team in each of the last 26 years at every level except Mosquito. He has won two OBA championships and was runner-up five times, and has convened countless tournaments including hosting two OBA provincial championships.
Wolfe was also instrumental in the vision for the Cooper Standard senior field and soccer pitches at Kinsmen Park in Mitchell’s south end, as well as a leader in fundraising in order to have it built. He and Brian Smitjes still spend hundreds of hours maintaining and caring for the Cooper diamond, as it is known.
“Doug’s wife Sharon often said that if she had a nickel for every hour that Doug spent doing something with baseball she would be a millionaire by now,” Henry said. “It is Mitchell Minor Baseball and the WOBA who are truly richer because of Doug’s time, energy and wisdom.”
Henry said she is pleased to present a banner that will be won by the Championship Rookie team at this tournament as the “Doug Wolfe, Rookie Ball Champions” for the WOBA. (Ironically enough, Mitchell did win that title, defeating St. Marys in a thrilling contest).
Article Courtesy of Andy Bader (Mitchell Advocate)