HUNTSVILLE - Scott Hammond knows all too well the old saying that the family that plays together, stays together.
It was with this in mind that the Huntsville businessman and his brother Barry started a rec team in the Bracebridge fastball league this past year, so they could play on the same side with their sons.
Little did Hammond realize however that this move would eventually have international implications.
Hammond, who is the general manager of Hidden Valley Resort in Huntsville, joined his brother at the 2012 International Softball Congress Legends (50-older) World Championship on a team from Stoney Creek, Ont., a team captained by Barry.
“This is actually a travelling tournament team. Most of the players come from the centre it represents, so it’s not so much a club team as it is that players are picked up to compete,” Hammond explained. “They knew my brother from watching him compete at the under-50 championships last year. So when he turned 50 this year they asked him to join. In the world of fastball, everyone gets to know everyone.”
Hammond, who is a second baseman, was then asked by his shortstop brother to join the team. The two had played together since the 1980s as a strong double-play combo, winning provincial titles and one eastern Canadian championship during their playing days.
Hammond did step away from the game more than 10 years ago to concentrate on other matters, but was lured back to the game this year for a chance to play with his family on a Bracebridge rec team.
“We just wanted to play together with our sons and have a good time. Things just grew from there,” he said.
It was this time that Hammond realized he hadn’t lost his love for the game, and when his brother offered him a spot on the Stoney Creek team, he jumped at the chance.
The tournament was held in Midland, Michigan from Aug. 12 to 18. Teams from across the world converged on the Michigan town to vie for the various world titles up for grabs.
The masters, or Legends division, didn’t start until the last three days of the weeklong event.
“We competed in the Legends division, which meant you have to be 50 and older to compete. Our team made it all the way to the quarter-finals. A team from Cobourg eliminated us by a 2-1 score. They went on to win the whole thing and our game could have went either way. It’s nice to know you were eliminated by the champions.”
Fastball legend Darren Zack, who lives at the Garden River First Nation near Sault Ste. Marie, played for the Cobourg Force and was named the division’s most valuable pitcher.
“There were a lot of guys who can still bring it. I mean Zack was as heavy as he ever was. I faced him about 28 years ago in Garden River when we went to our first provincial championship with our Bracebridge team. He was amazing then and still is amazing.”
Stoney Creek posted a 2-2 record during the preliminary round before entering the playoffs. Hammond played four of the five games and started the tournament on the bench listed as a utility player.
“I went into the lineup in the second game and never came out. I batted around .250, but I was there for my glove. It was defensive plays that kept us in our games and I felt I contributed to that defensive game.”
As much as Hammond enjoyed playing the tournament, he did say that it was off the field meeting players from other countries that he will remember the most.
“The best experience was to see 60 teams from across the world. One morning I had breakfast with players from the Czech Republic. The other morning I had breakfast with players from Argentina. So you are seeing fastball at its highest level from players 21 to over 50. My sister-in-law told me that I didn’t stop smiling for four days. If you are a fastball fan, like I am, it was the experience of a lifetime.”
It is an experience that Hammond hopes to duplicate next year. He said that he is contemplating either returning to the ISC Legends tournament, which will be held next year in Ohio, or to go to another world masters’ tournament in Italy next August with the Stoney Creek team.
However, Hammond said it would be one tournament or the other. “There are two opportunities. One is the world masters’ tournament in Italy and the other is the ISC in Ohio.”