Stinger baseball team reunion to take place April 30

  • Sports   Thu, Apr 28th, 2022   Veronica Reiner
The yellow Stingers shirt, which shows that the team won the championships in the Intercounty Men's League from 1980 to 1984.

The yellow Stingers shirt, which shows that the team won the championships in the Intercounty Men's League from 1980 to 1984.

By Veronica Reiner
The Stingers, a former baseball team that played in the Intercounty Men’s Slow Pitch league, will be holding a reunion at the New Hamburg Legion on Saturday, April 30.
Out of the 29 former members of the team, about 25 have confirmed their attendance for the event - two are unable to come and two have passed. “The Stinger reunion will be a team effort,” said former member David Seyler. “We are about to hit a grand slam!”
The event will take place from 1 p.m. until 9 p.m. It will feature Stinger memorabilia guaranteed to make former members nostalgic, such as a scrapbook of pictures and articles, as well as hats, shirts, coats, etc.
At 3:30 p.m., the formal/informal program will begin - some history will be given about the Stingers, and some former members of the team will tell a story or two, as well as open mic time.
At 5:30 p.m., there will be a buffet full course meal provided by members of the Legion. Stingers are free to stay or leave after the meal.
The team was established in 1980 and won 7 consecutive championships. In total, the Stingers went on to win 11 championships in total which was the most by any before the league folded a few years ago.
So what made the Stringer such a successful team?
“Teamwork. Almost all the members of the team had played together at some time over the last 30 years, were often good friends, respected each other regardless of ability, and could laugh and make fun of errors that were made,” said Seyler.
The league consisted of 14 teams in total, including a North and South division. In the North Division were teams from Atwood, Moorefield, Listowel, Wingham and Millbank.
In the South Division were teams New Hamburg Merchants, Tavistock, Shakespeare, Plattsville, Bright, Kitchener, Wellesley Team 1, Wellesley Team 2, and New Hamburg Stingers. During the lifetime of the league, a total of 28 teams were members at some point.
Over their seven years of championship ball, the Stingers had 29 different players on the team, which Seyler described as “very little turnover.”
“The Stingers were really like a large family that did not change much over the years. We knew each other and their families extremely well.”
The team was formed more than 30 years ago. In late winter, Bob Ruthig thought it would be a good idea to enter a new New Hamburg team in the league. He approached his lifetime friend - and often ball and hockey teammate Don Culbert - and both agreed to turn the team to a really.
To form a team, players are required - both Bob and Don played minor hockey, junior hockey, and ball in New Hamburg, as well as longtime connections with players involved in sports.
Many of the members came from a former OHA Intermediate B hockey team, part of which was formed by Seyler. “It was easy to get the first dozen players due to past connections, but we needed at least 15 players for a team to fill in for absences, work commitments, vacation, etc,” said Seyler. “An ad was placed in the local paper and a few more players were found.”
The team also asked Mike Schout, a young entrepreneur, to become a sponsor for the team, and he agreed, which helped to fund equipment such as bats, balls, and uniforms. Mike later became a player once the age limit was reduced from 34 to 30.
“Our uniform consisted of only a Stinger sponsored shirt - we wore jeans, own socks and cleats,” said Seyler. “A ‘stinger bee’ was on our uniform, and later hats, once we were rich enough to have Stinger hats.”
Initially, the team had their challenges, but after enough practice and dedication, began winning regularly. Seyler said the team often won by “unheard of” slow pitch scores, such as 2-0, 4-2, etc., but eventually started winning by larger scores.
“When the Stingers entered a tournament and came walking in with our Stinger shirt and wearing jeans, other teams well dressed in complete ball uniforms would be snickering and laughing at us,” said Seyler. “After we won a few games and the occasional tournament the snickering and laughing went away.”