A Halifax sportswriter once penned these lines. “In the 1960’s and 70’s, softball was the Annapolis Valley’s number 1 sport, and Berwick’s Gary Whittier was the king who ruled the empire”. In the same article, Gary was described as “a crafty southpaw with pinpoint control and a wicked changeup”. During the heyday of fast pitch softball in Nova Scotia and the Maritimes during the 1960’s and 70’s, Gary Whittier was one of the top pitchers in the sport and perhaps the best left-handed pitcher in the country.
Gary was an outstanding school athlete and his promise as pitcher showed early. As a youthful 15-year old, he helped to pitch the 1960 Berwick Junior Legionnaires to the Nova Scotia and Maritime Championships. In the very next, this team won the Nova Scotia and Maritime Intermediate C Championships. During his illustrious career, Gary was a key contributor to five different combined Nova Scotia and Maritime championship teams from the Junior to Senior levels and as well he participated in the final championship series with five other teams. His athletic prowess was not limited to pitching – often he played in the outfield and drove in key runs with his hitting. At the peak of his career, Gary was the “stopper” on the pitching staff of two of the highest profile teams in the Atlantic region – the Brookfield Elks and the Dartmouth Dairy Queen. In fact the 1974 Dartmouth Dairy Queen on which Gary was the ace pitcher has been described as “the best team ever assembled in the Maritimes”.
Perhaps the finest period of Gary’s playing days extended from 1967 to 1970. During this time, in one of the most competitive Senior A softball leagues in Canada, Gary twice led the league in ERA, won over 50 games in a regular play-off play, pitched two no-hitters – including one during a pressure-packed play-off game, and batted an impressive .300 during the 1968 season. In 1969, Gary was a vital performer on the Nova Scotia Canada Games Softball team which finished 4th in the first summer Canada Games held in Halifax.
Numerous other honours testify to Gary’s outstanding softball career. He once struck out 17 batters in 8 innings of play and set the Nova Scotia Mainland Senior Softball league record with 16 strikeouts during a 1965 game. Of this game, Jack Gray, long-time president of Softball Nova Scotia, remarked that it was “the best pitched game he ever saw”. In 1967, Gary received the Jack Gray President’s Award to commemorate his play-off no-hitter and in 1974, Gary pitched two victories for the Dartmouth Dairy Queen at the Canadian Championships at which the Nova Scotia team won the bronze medal. In 1982, Gary was inducted into the Kings County Sports Hall of Fame and as such deserves automatic induction into the inaugural Berwick Sports Hall of Fame.
Championship Teams on which Gary Pitched:
1960 Nova Scotia and Maritime Junior Champions (Berwick)
1961 Nova Scotia and Maritime Intermediate C Champions (Berwick)
1963 Nova Scotia and Maritime Senior B Champions (Berwick)
1967 Nova Scotia and Maritime Senior A Champions (Halifax)
1974 Nova Scotia and Maritime Senior A Champions (Dartmouth)
Inducted June 1999