By Cecil Wright, Sports Columnist
You cannot blame the baseball community up in the valley region for scratching their heads and wondering why. They have lost three tremendous men who were synonymous with baseball excellence and made unsurpassed contributions to the Kentville Wildcats and the Hantsport Shamrocks over the years.
Ian Mosher was a longtime player-coach who went to great lengths promoting the sport of baseball wherever the Wildcats were playing. Back in 1985, the Wildcats, at Memorial Park in Kentville, won the gold medal at the Canadian Senior Men’s Baseball Nationals before an overflow crowd that numbered well into the thousands. Ian drove in the game-winning run for the first Nova Scotia team to win the national tournament. Ian passed away in February after suffering from ALS, however, he retained his witty personality up until the very end. I was fortunate to make it up to Kentville on the night the Cats honoured him. Prior to the festivities, he approached me with an extended had and said, “don’t make this too mushy, eh?”
This man, who passed away at age 63 was still playing in the Nova Scotia Senior Baseball League at age 57… AND CATCHING!!
In 1995, I joined the fledgling Dalhousie University Baseball Club and learned everything I could about the Canadian Intercollegiate Baseball Association from my conversations with Ian, who was coaching the Acadia University Baseball Club at the time. In fact, both teams made it to the National Championship tournament which was held in a frosty city of Montreal that autumn. I will never forget the smile on Ian’s face knowing that baseball in our region was beginning to make inroads on the national university level.
Just a few weeks ago, Peter Goucher, also a member of the 1985 Championship Wildcats, passed away. A fine man who could be found coaching baseball in the summer and hockey in the winter and was well known for being a very respected school administrator. He was the former Principal at Horton High, Cornwallis High and finally at Northeast Kings Education Centre.
Now I have just found out that my good friend and Nova Scotia Senior Baseball statistician for over thirty years, and noted author, Burton Russell has just gone on to glory. We used to call each other “young man” with a smile when we saw each other around the ballpark.
Burton spent some 35 years as a teacher in valley area schools, with twenty-five of them being at Kings County Academy. They tell me he could be an ornery coach in hockey, but I only knew the baseball side of his personality, and I can tell you, he loved the game passionately. He authored 14 or 15 books about sports in the valley region. Burton always went out of his way to seek me out back when I coached against the Wildcats and thank me for submitting statistics to him on time. He was such a great guy how could you disappoint him by being tardy?
People like these men cannot be replaced and we need to ensure that they must be honoured, respected, and remembered for the invaluable contributions they have made to the sports and community that they loved so much.
Rest in power gentlemen.