UNITY — It has been a banner year for Mary Anne Gaetz. She was recently announced as an upcoming inductee into Saskatchewan Baseball Hall of Fame, with awards event upcoming in August.
Gaetz was surprised, yet honoured when freelance reporter, Helena Long, acknowledged her 51-year career in baseball scorekeeping with a story in the Press-Herald / SASKTODAY.ca. in August of 2021. Keeping score - 51 years and counting - SaskToday.ca
Gaetz said, “I had lots of people thank and congratulate me on this milestone accomplishment so I felt proud of my work and appreciative of the gratitude.”
A few months later, in December of 2021, Gaetz was once again surprised when she learned Baseball Saskatchewan was awarding her a 2021 Lifetime Achievement Award. Again, she was flooded with congratulatory messages and well wishes on her accomplishment.
Unlike umpires, scorekeepers are not paid, choosing to volunteer because of their love of the game, so Gaetz says it felt extra special being acknowledged with such a high honour.
A remarkable aspect of Gaetz's story is she was not involved in ball in any way growing up and she didn’t play herself. Gaetz said she began scorekeeping in 1966 because then Co-op Hardware manager, Ray Atkinson, asked her to scorekeep for the men’s fastpitch league.
The rest, they say, is history that resulted in a more than five-decade career commitment to scorekeeping for baseball and softball in Unity.
Gaetz said Atkinson approached her because he had seen her at the diamonds and she thought “Why not, I was there watching anyway.”
While she does keep score for other sports, her career has mostly been as a part of baseball.
Gaetz did say, although its not baseball related, her career highlights have included the opportunity to scorekeep at five Western Canadian softball events held in Unity, the first one in 1998 under the direction of chairperson, Ronna Pethick. She also was asked to be part of Pee Wee Westerns that took place in Battleford in 2014, where Unity’s team earned a bronze.
She also mentioned her excitement to be on deck to scorekeep the 1974 Canadian Senior Men’s Baseball Championships that was being co-hosted by Battleford, Lloydminster and Unity, but after her dad’s sudden passing, she was unable to attend.
Gaetz has served as a scorekeeper for every division of baseball right from the youngest players into senior men’s baseball. She says one of her favourite things about being at the diamonds is being able to watch good, live ball games and experience the progression of players' talents.
“The biggest benefit of scorekeeping is having the best seat in the house for each game, and enjoy the hometown team pride.”
Gaetz also chuckles when saying, “I also get to know all the players' names as they’re on the lineup, however, I have had to remind the odd coach that I can’t read his writing.”
She muses that she trained a few coaches to have someone with neater writing/printing write out the lineup card.
Gaetz smiled throughout the interview, fondly and accurately, recalling specific games or events. It was easy to see her love of the game during her baseball and softball trip back in time.
She has been presented various appreciation items over the years that included medals from the event, souvenir T-shirts, plaques and souvenir duffle bags. She also beamed, recounting the pride in being asked to throw the first pitch for two different provincial events in both baseball and softball.
As for the long days at tournaments or provincial events for minor ball, Gaetz says, “I have never found it hard to handle because I thoroughly enjoy what I am doing. Although I have learned to dress for all four seasons [at one event] I was wearing a winter coat and gloves on the Friday and by Saturday it was sunhats and sunscreen kind of weather.”
Gaetz said while she doesn’t normally keep track of hours spent at the diamonds, she did keep track one year and said she volunteered at 62 games between baseball and softball. “If you multiply that by three hours per game, that’s 186 hours in the scorekeeper's booth.”
When Jane Shury, on behalf the Sask. Baseball Hall of Fame, called Gaetz to inform her of her induction and invited her to attend the Aug.20 event, “I was absolutely shaking. I was so surprised. I had to phone my brother right away to share the news. I look forward to attending this summer and mingle with other inductees.”
Gaetz she has already spoken for the new rule books, as they seem to change frequently and she likes to be up-to-date on the rules that would pertain to her work.
Before electronic scoreboards and announcers were commonplace, she learned early to focus on her work even through interruptions of people checking for the score of a particular game she was working.
Gaetz said she doesn’t feel like she’s ever had one negative experience and that usually host committees and teams look after her really well, making sure she has food and water throughout the day for tournaments or provincial events.
However, she recalled one game that involved a bench clearing incident that resulted in Kindersley umpire, Dave Berk, ejecting a player and settling down the heated scene. Gaetz had to record all of story, in details, on the scoresheet, for submission following the game for follow-up purposes.
“I was glad that my attention to detail and commitment to accuracy was already habit by this time as it made a tense situation a little easier to manage.”
She has her schedule for the NSRBL already this year and knows there likely will be some minor baseball and softball requests as well. Retirement is not something she is considering as long as she is able to continue.
Gaetz also is a longtime volunteer with the Unity Western Days committee, as well as serving numerous years with the Unity Kinette Club.