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Bench Talk / Off The Wire

A London Encounter


By Fred Wallace

 The Owen Sound Attack are off to Northern Ontario this weekend for games tonight at Sault Ste Marie, tomorrow in Sudbury and then Sunday afternoon they go against the restructured North Bay Battalion.


Last Friday, Owen Sound was in London and amid the Sportsnet broadcast and the Teddy Bear Toss, there was some yelling to the side of my broadcast location.


Not recognizing who was waving, I assumed they wanted to speak with the London announcers.


Neither Mike Stubbs nor Jim Van Horne seemed familiar with the people who were waving and when I looked again it turned out it was Butch Shute.


Butch has been in London for a long time, long departed from Owen Sound but once I recognized the face, it wasn't long before I remembered the best ball game I've ever seen live.


At the old Canada Day Weekend Tournament at Duncan McLellan Park, on a blazing hot, and I mean BLAZING HOT, Sunday afternoon in July of 1986, Butch Shute and the Sports Stop were playing the youthful Kramer Contracting Bantams in an elimination game.


As you can imagine there was a massive difference in ages between the two teams, exemplified by the pitchers that day; Bill Simpson well into his 40's for Sport Stop against Andy Jackson of Kramers, who might have been 15 at the time.


Even more intriguing than the age gap, was the ongoing scoreless ball game that eventually stretched through 18 innings before Sport Stop plated a run against Kramer's reliever who took over when young Jackson could no longer continue.


I don't recall if Butch Shute was involved in the winning run, and I don't have the game sheet to verify this, but that afternoon it seemed the only player to get on base for Sport Stop was Butch Shute who by my estimation might have gone 10 for 12 that day at the plate.


I might not have recognized Butch last Friday, but the memory of that Sports Stop-Kramer's game is more than 30 years old and still fairly vivid.

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