1999 Berwick Eassons
A third-place finish at provincials and a third-place showing at Eastern Canadians the previous year had the Berwick Eassons fastball team optimistic of greater successes in 1999. When all was said and done, the 1999 Eassons had captured Berwick's first provincial men's fastball championship in 36 years.
Playing in the Oland's Fastball League with East Hants Midgets, Halifax Lion's Head, Guysborough Transfer, Shubenacadie, Enfield, Dartmouth Blues and Oland's 67s, the Eassons finished with a 39-16 record, including three tournaments, the league playoffs, provincials and Eastern Canadians.
The team started the season by sweeping a pair of exhibition games with Guysborough May 23, then went 8-1 in league play before hosting a tournament on the June 12 weekend in Berwick.
At that tournament, the Eassons went 2-0 against both East Hants and Dartmouth Blues, outscoring them 37-5 before running into a hot Glace Bay Mariners team in the final, which they lost 12-1.
At a tournament two weeks later in New Germany, the Eassons went a perfect 4-0, including a 12-5 win over the host New Germany team in the final.
The Eassons took a 23-7 overall record into a July 16 weekend tournament in Windsor. Berwick made the finals, but once again was bounced by Glace Bay, this time by a 14-1 score.
After finishing the league schedule with five wins in their last six games, the Eassons entered provincials Aug. 20-22 in Shubenacadie and Enfield on a roll, then went 5-0 to claim the title.
Berwick won 2-1 over Antigonish, 10-3 over Cape Breton White Sox, 7-1 over Dartmouth Blues and, most notably, 10-6 over Glace Bay, a team which had had their number all season.
Berwick and Glace Bay then met in the provincial final, with the Mariners needing to win twice to deny the Eassons the provincial crown.
In what player-coach Terry Wright described in the Sept. 8, 1999 edition of the Berwick Register as “a close game,” the Eassons prevailed 5-4 on a dramatic home run by Bruce Keddy in the bottom of the seventh. Remarkably, it was Bruce's first-ever home run in a fastball game.
“This is the first time since 1963 a Berwick men's fastball team has won a provincial championship,” Wright told Sara Keddy of the Register. “We've come second a few times, but never did win it.”
After tuning up against the provincial senior men's champions, the Eassons moved on to Eastern Canadians Sept. 10-12 in Glace Bay.
Team members attending college and university as far away as Ontario were able to return for the tournament, and Berwick also added the services of an extra pitcher, Jeff Doane from Dartmouth.
After a heartbreaking 1-0 loss to Ontario in their opening game at Eastern Canadians, the Eassons rebounded with a 14-7 win over the host Cape Breton White Sox.
Berwick's third game was against Saint John, N.B, which scored a 9-3 win, but again, the Eassons showed their mettle by winning their final round robin game 11-4 over Borden, P.E.I. to finish with a respectable 2-2 record.
The league playoffs began on Sept.7, with Berwick seeded first thanks to their 21-7 season record in league play. After their successful season, the league playoffs were a bit of an anticlimax for the team. Matched up against Dartmouth Blues, the Eassons won the first game of the series 8-4, then dropped 6-4 and 6-1 decisions, bringing to a close a most remarkable season.
The team included Dave McDowell, Wendell Wagner, Scott Connelly, Mark Coldwell,Ian Prall, Bruce Keddy, Kevin Redden, Chris Osmond, Matt Wright, Kelly Saunders, Jodye Routledge, Ed Hewins, Rob McCammon, Ryan Nichols, player-coaches Terry Wright and Bob Lynch and manager Junior Billard.
Kevin Redden was presented with the Tony Salsman Memorial Award for pride, hustle and desire.
Also coming in for their share of praise were Bill and Tom Easson, whose company had been sponsoring men's fastball in Berwick for 32 years.
The Berwick Sports Hall of Fame is pleased to induct, in the team category, the 1999 Berwick Eassons fastball team, worthy provincial champions and proud representatives of the town.