Take me out to the ball game

Getting a baseball autographed by the Vancouver Capilanos

Baseball was a tradition for Walter, Dad and me. He’d often come to the house and announce that someone paid back a loan he had made (and typically not remembered) and he was taking the three of us to a ball game at Nat Bailey.

For reasons I won’t go into, I was included on a trip to Victoria with Walter and Dad where they served as overseers of Victoria College. George Straith, the Minister of Education at the time, also owned the Victoria Athletics baseball team and invited us to sit in the owner’s box for that night’s game with the Capilanos. You can imagine how, as a 15 year old, I was excited by the experience. But there was more to come.

After the game we went down to the harbour to catch the overnight ferry. As we were standing in the lobby, all the Capilanos came on board. Walter grabbed me by the hand taking me up to the nearest player and said “I want you to meet John Chant and he wants to get your autograph.” The player was pleased to oblige and, in talking to him, Walter discovered that baseball was just a summer job: the player was taking teachers’ training at a university in Oregon. Walter complimented him on his career choice and in his usual way chatted with him for some time about his aspirations. The upshot was that the player, Jerry Barta, told us to contact him the next time we went to a ball game and he’d get me an autographed baseball. Sure enough a week later we went to the clubhouse after the game and I became proud owner of a baseball that had been autographed by all the Vancouver Capilanos.

I kept the baseball for many years and then surrendered it only when my boys needed a baseball to play with.

John Chant