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THE BEGINNING

The origin of organised softball in New Zealand as related to Kevin Baldwin by the late William Leeney a Ford Company original member.

Cricket was the catalyst for the introduction of the first organised softball competition in New Zealand.

In the early 1930s presumably 1935-36 a group of employees from the Ford Motor assembly plant at Seaview in Lower Hutt approached the then factory manager Canadian Bill Wilson seeking sponsorship from the company for a Ford team to play in the Wellington Mercantile Cricket league. Sponsorship was approved with the proviso that Bill Wilson's son Ben be included in the team.

Came the time to play and Ben Wilson's baseball style stance at the batting crease was the cause of considerable discussion within the team. Bill Wilson went on to explain the game that had given him so much pleasure in Canada, and realised that perhaps here was an opportunity to bring a form of softball to a small corner of New Zealand.

Components for the assembly of Ford Vehicles at that time were mainly imported from Canada, Bill Wilson ordered all the necessary equipment to play a game from Canada and this was included in cases assembly parts which no doubt escaped the attention Customs in New Zealand. The Ford Plant had considerable yard space that enabled the laying out of a diamond albeit on a gravel type surface. Initially Bill Wilson taught the basic rudiments of softball to interested employees, in addition to the cricket team. He then initiated the first organised softball competition in New Zealand.

Teams were formed by the various departments within the company. Represented were the Office, Parts, Assembly, Body and paint shop, Trim and Store departments. Lunch hours at the plant were of ¾ hours duration consequently games were limited to ½ hours play each day and took up to 3 days to reach a conclusion.

Enthusiastic Ford employees took the game outside of the plant and interest in softball gathered momentum to such a degree that a meeting was sponsored by a Mr. C. A. Bristow on October 27 1937 on the feasibility of a Wellington competition.

At that meeting an assurance was given by representatives from clubs to be formed from Hutt, Petone, Eastbourne, Kelvin Gymnasium, Atlantic Union Oil co, Newtown, City, Wellington, and Rawleighs. "that in the event of the game being established these respective clubs would be able to field a team."