YORKTON - When the Saskatchewan Baseball Hall of Fame holds its induction Saturday Yorkton’s Brooks Washenfelder will be among those honoured.
Washenfelder said he let his name stand for nomination because of the support of others.
“I talked to Linus Westberg several months ago and he asked if he along with Lorne Harasen could submit my baseball resume for consideration into the Saskatchewan Baseball Hall of Fame,” he related.
“These gentlemen had long, legendary careers in radio and TV and so really, it was an honour just to be nominated by them.
“When I was told the nomination was accepted, I was humbled.”
At the same time Washenfelder noted he did not succeed as a player alone.
“I played on really good teams with a lot of fantastic players through the years and I attribute and share this award with my teammates,” he said.
For Washenfelder, who was born in the city in 1969, and still resides here, an involvement in baseball was almost hereditary.
“I never met anyone who loved and dedicated so much of their life to baseball more than my dad,” he related. “Yes, I'm sure he was playing catch with my brother and I before we could walk.
“My dad was a fierce competitor, but he loved coaching and the players loved playing for him.
“Playing ball is what we did as kids, on the ball field or in our backyard; it was a way of life for my brother and me.”
For Washenfelder the young start proved a good one as he would find much success on the diamond growing up.
Washenfelder “played second base most of the time but also was an excellent fielder with a great glove and greater instincts on how to field a ball. He was a top batter with an average of around .400. This made a difference in winning many games. He was a skilled player knowing and playing ‘the right way’,” detailed a Sask Baseball Hall of Fame release.
The success on the field included:
- 1984 - This talented young player was a member of the 1984 Yorkton Cardinals Bantam Provincial Champions when the Cardinals got a big RBI double from Brooks which was described as the turning point in the game, erasing a 5-3 Weyburn lead into a17-5 Yorkton victory. The team went undefeated in this championship!
- 1987- In this first Yorkton Provincial Juvenile title ever, Brooks pitched and played second base, going for 4 with 3 RBI’s. The team played flawless baseball in a 15-0 win over the Wawota Pats to capture the Provincial Championship title.
- 1988 -The Bisons [19 and under] Championships were held before a hometown crowd at Jubilee Park in Yorkton. Brooks scored twice in a very exciting 10th inning Bison title win for Yorkton.
- Also, in 1988 Brooks was one of seven-of-nine Yorkton starters picked as the best players in their positions for the tournament earning them a berth in the Nationals in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. Coach of the team, Keith Washenfelder, was awarded the “Best Coach” of the tournament.
- 1989 - Again, Brooks played in the two winning games with the Yorkton Junior Anavets by driving in several runs and scoring a number of runs winning the 4th Provincial Championship for the Yorkton Junior Anavets.
- 2012 - Brooks was a member of the Yorkton Orioles Senior baseball team that competed and won the tournament in the Hudson Bay Twilite 35+ Baseball Tournament.
So, what is it about baseball that kept Washenfelder so involved through the years?
“I met a lot of good friends through baseball, and it was these relationships that kept me involved many years after I was finished playing at a competitive level,” he told Yorkton This Week. “For example I played well into my 40's competing in the Provincial Twilite Tournament with two teams, the Parkland Padres coached by a terrific baseball guy by the name of Ewen Morrison, and the Yorkton Orioles coached by my good friend Chris Wyatt. This annual 35 years and older tournament featured 24 teams from all over Saskatchewan. I would run into a lot of guys I played with and against at the tournament who obviously like myself still enjoyed the comraderies and competitiveness of the game.”
Given a rather lengthy ‘career’ in local baseball it was natural to ask what Washenfelder looks back on most fondly?
“What stands out to me is I am proud of the fact that we won five provincial championships and two Western Canadian Championships over a period of eight years, which is quite an accomplishment,” he said.
“They are all special, but in 1987 we represented Western Canada in the National Championship in Dartmouth Nova Scotia which was a great experience.”
And, coaching naturally followed playing for the gifted Washenfelder.
“I come from such a baseball crazed family that it was almost predetermined that I would coach my kids for as long as they wanted to play,” he said. “I coached my son for several years locally when he was growing up. In the later years we entered a Yorkton team in the Regina Baseball League and it was a great experience being with the players and their families. We had a terrific coaching team of friends and former teammates Ed Zawatsky, Linton Evans, and Kevin Shirtliffe. These guys really loved baseball and it made coaching fun.”
Washenfelder said he certainly thinks baseball remains a great activity for youngsters.
“Play baseball to create lasting memories,” he said. “Play baseball to make lifelong friends.
“And lastly whatever level you compete at, play baseball for the love of the game.”