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Betty McGuire

Betty McGuire calls it a day after 50 Years By Mark Toft (with a little help from Stacie and Leigh Evans)


Betty McGuire started playing softball in 1953 with the Rebels Softball team in the Melbourne competition. Games were played at either The Domain or Fawkner Park. She was fortunate to be coached by Arthur Allsop and Bill Ward, who were both very particular that players learnt the fundamentals of the games and the basic skills of ball handling. Betty recalls that she sat on the bench for most of her first season as there were a few State players in the team, but was advised to use that time by watching and learning from these players. After being married in 1954 Betty did not play in 1955 but big things were yet to come. In 1956 the Sunshine Softball Association was formed of which Betty was a founding member. Betty played with the East Sunshine Youth Club, while Kerry coached. Clubs that entered teams that first year were East Sunshine Youth Club, McKay's, Sunshine Colts and I.C.I. Lions. Betty’s team were thrilled to have their name up as the first Premiers for the Sunshine Softball Association. Sunshine had the good fortune to have as an umpire Joe Mclntyre in the first couple of years, after that they relied on the generosity of the Sunshine Baseball Club who helped out with umpires for games. Because the teams also had to supply umpires, Betty was one of the first to say, ‘I’ll have a go.’ Sunshine were accepted into the Victorian Championships in 1958 and traveled to Ballarat in March 1959 for their first taste of competing against other Associations. It was very cold, very wet and a very different experience. Each player had raised their own finance to cover trains fares, accommodation etc. but altogether Sunshine were very proud of their Under 17 and Open teams. In 1960, Sunshine had to supply an umpire with their team entry into Victorian Championships. So no prizes for guessing who got to go. Although scared that she would make some horrendous decision, she was made very welcome by other teams and who should she meet in the first game of the Championships, but her old coach Arthur who was "plating" and another new umpire from Geelong Barry Smith. Barry eventually became the Director of Umpiring for Baseball in Victoria many years later. From then on Betty was hooked on umpiring, eventually helping to form the Sunshine Umpires Association. With only 3 members that first year they gained more as the years passed. Their intentions were to get their people accredited. This was achieved over the years and they still have a couple of umpires who aspire to higher standards. Unfortunately this is another of those various sub-Associations that has now gone by the board. ‘Umpiring can be a very satisfactory area, although it does get very uncomfortable at times when teams believe that every decision is going against them. ‘But like players, who need to learn their skills and practice consistently, umpires need to work at learning the Rules and being in the right position to call plays.’ ‘It just does not happen’, Betty said. Betty’s highlight during her years of umpiring was when she was selected to represent Australia as an umpire at the Mini World series held in Brisbane in 1980. Betty also had the opportunity to umpire in many games, which occurred between visiting teams from Canada, San Diego and New Zealand. Some of these games were hosted by Sunshine and she remembers the night at the clubrooms when the visiting consul from Canada didn't want to go home and the others did. Still it was a very good party. ‘Another highlight was when Sunshine hosted the visiting team from South Africa. Many of our players assisted and we hired the Town Hall and Joy Harris from the St Albans Club catered for a dinner for them after which we took them by bus around Melbourne and then on to the Domain where they played against the Victorian State Team’, Betty recalls. During her time at Sunshine, Betty has been a member of the "wet weather committee" later renamed the Pennant committee. She also served on Selection committees, protest committees, umpires association as Vice president, then Secretary since 1959/60. She has represented Women's Sport on the inaugural Sports Advisory Committee to the Sunshine Council and again when it was revived by the Brimbank City Council. At State level, Betty have been a member of the Victorian Umpires Association, Affiliated Associations Delegate to the Women's Amateur Softball Council of Victoria, and a member of the Tournament Committee for many years and represented Victoria as an umpire at Junior and Senior National Championships from 1974 until 1984. Betty has been awarded Life Memberships of both Sunshine and Victoria. Betty believes that she has had the best years of player involvement with many Affiliated Associations of Victoria and enjoyed amicable relationships with players from past State teams at National Championships. She has made many friends from interstate whilst umpiring and enjoys catching up with them whenever possible. Betty’s retirement from softball has left a huge legacy. She has been with the Sunshine Association since it's inception in 1956, three years as Vice President and the rest as Secretary. Since retiring in May, Betty told me she wondered how she ever managed to fit in the administration side as now she is very involved with the Australian Blind Bowlers Association and their Secretary keeps her very busy!! Betty went on to say she would like to thank all the people who have assisted her during the years. “I have met some very wonderful people throughout Australia especially in the umpiring area and I have lots of good memories to look back on,” Betty said. “Being retired doesn't mean that I have lost contact with softball, as I would still like to keep up-to-date through BNOL and I will still have some involvement with the Victorian umpires.” Betty, Thanks for the memories. Have fun in Retirement

Ref: S&DHS

Ref: Blues News on Line June / July 2014

Photos: S&DHS

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