SPORTS N’ THINGS: Smoke Eaters hit the diamond

"Kind of cool that Trail is still producing top notch female ball players."

Kind of cool that Trail is still producing top notch female ball players.

That has been the case for many decades. This area has always had strong female sports teams, including fastball, baseball and hockey leagues for women that won championships, and has exported a lot of quality ball players to other towns and leagues.

Olympic stalwart Loren Bay is just one among many of those exports.

Trail Little League’s Kelly Craig was less of a sensation at Williamsport than the current Sports Illustrated cover girl, Mo’ne Davis, but nevertheless was a very early example of the fact that exceptional female players could compete with the boys.

Ella Matteucci, too, has always been more than capable of playing with the guys. She  wasn’t fortunate enough to come along during the little league salad days of the Andy Bilesky era, so did not get the international exposure of some others of her ilk.

Nice that in a shrinking local sports scene there are still both the resources and enthusiasm required to allow such excellence to emerge.

• It is also nice that the soon-to-be-gathered Smoke Eater roster will be out and about for charity in a couple of weeks. A slo-pitch event pitting the Smokies against local fire and crime fighters is scheduled for Sept. 3, at Butler Park at 5:30 p.m. Proceeds to Special Olympics. Spoiler alert – it seems likely the juniors will get crushed by the seniors, among whom are some current and former pretty studly slo-pitch sluggers.

• I was taken aback a bit by the announcement one new Smokie had won an award based on solid citizenship and sportsmanship that is called The Richard Warwick Memorial Award.

Must be some other Richard Warwick, not the Richard, “Dickie,” Warwick who suited up for the senior Smoke Eaters (and the 1955 World Champion Penticton Vees) in the 50s – because that 50s version, while an effective player, fit pretty much none of the criteria (well, “determination,” is apt) upon which the award is based.

I did try to research the provenance of the award, which seems prestigious, but met a lot of, “not found,” messages, even on Facebook.

Just that the name caught my eye. Ask any of the ex-Smokie’s old teammates, there are still a lot of those around, about his makeup if you want to understand why it seemed an incongruous title for a sportsmanship trophy.