Above: Cutting the ribbon on the NCABL Hall of Fame was Morinville Deputy Mayor Nicole Boutestein, St. Albert Mayor Nolan Crouse, and Westlock Councillor Curtis Snell, each representing an NCABL community where a 50th Anniversary event will be held.
by Stephen Dafoe
Morinville and Alberta experienced a first Thursday night; the opening of the first sport-specific Hall of Fame dedicated to an amateur League in Alberta. The opening of the North Central Alberta Baseball League’s Hall of Fame at the Musée Morinville Museum coincided with the league’s 50th anniversary.
Fifty years later, the NCABL has nine teams, including the Camrose Axemen, St. Albert Cardinals, Edmonton Athletics, Sherwood Park Athletics, Edmonton Blackhawks, Stony Plain Mets, Edmonton Primeaus, Sturgeon Paladins, and the Westlock Red Lions.
Thursday night saw representatives from many of those communities in attendance for a wine and cheese event at the museum, followed by the ribbon cutting ceremony for the NCABL Hall of Fame.
That display includes trophies, photos, uniforms, and other memorabilia from a half century of high-performance AA amateur baseball.
Cutting the ribbon was Morinville Deputy Mayor Nicole Boutestein, St. Albert Mayor Nolan Crouse, and Westlock Councillor Curtis Snell, each representing an NCABL community where a 50th Anniversary event will be held.
Morinville Historical and Cultural Society Director Murray Knight said the museum was pleased to have the Hall of Fame in Morinville where the league began.
“In 1968 in a meeting held in Cunnigham School in Morinville, Alberta saw the formation of the North Central Alberta Baseball League,” Knight said.
NCABL Commissioner Paul Riopel, a former Morinville resident and teacher, was on hand to share his passion for baseball, the league, and the province’s first amateur league Hall of Fame.
“Who among us has not – at some point in our lives – picked up a bat and ball and experienced the sheer pleasure of sharing that special moment with someone,” Riopel rhetorically asked the attendees. “A son, a daughter – someone. This casual sharing of a summer pastime using a bat and ball, in its various forms, is at the root of all of our social interactions dating as far back in this area as the late 1800s.”
Riopel said a Hall of Fame not only stands in remembrance of athletes who wore the league’s many uniforms, the team managers, or the spectators who supported the team but is there for everyone.
“A real Hall of Fame is meant to touch each one of us by rekindling those cherished memories of times gone by when sport meshed with the sheer enjoyment of the moment to create a euphoric moment in all of our hearts and minds,” Riopel said. “This Hall of Fame, Ladies and Gentlemen, is the first sport-specific Hall of Fame to ever be opened and dedicated to a specific league in all of Alberta.”
[subhead]More NCABL events planned this year
Thursday night’s gathering was the first of six events planned for the anniversary year.
Next up at bat is the league’s 2017 All-Star Game Jul. 16 in St. Albert’s Legion Park. The event takes place at 3 p.m. and will be preceded by local entertainment and other activities. Admission is $3; however, those 10 and under are admitted for free.
Westlock will host the NCABL Story: Meet and Greet Aug. 18 at the Spirit Centre. The event kicks off a three-day alumni weekend in the community. The event will include a dispitems from the Morinville NCABL Hall of Fame. The highpoint of the evening will be the naming of 10 “impact players” from each of the league’s five decades of existence.
Saturday, Aug. 19 will include a golf tournament, Sports & Leisure Expo, and a wrap-up Gala Banquet and Awards.
For more information on individual events, visit http://www.ncabl.ab.ca.