NOTL champion fastball team reunites 50 years later

The boys are back in town.

A team of fastball players from Niagara-on-the-Lake made it to the Ontario Juvenile Championship game 50 years ago and clobbered their competitors from North York with a final score of 16-1.

A lot has changed since then.

Some of the old coaches are long gone and the team is short a player with the death of Barry Archer.

That didn't stop NOTL resident and former fastball player Ken Rive from bringing the team back together to celebrate their 1972 championship victory.

The day of the reunion marked exactly four years since Archer’s death, Sept. 17, 2018.

“That's what happens when you wait,” Rive said.

After Archer died, Rive got more serious about bringing the old team back together.

Knowing some of them had to come from as far as Ottawa and British Columbia, Rive reached out in April.

When they got there, the men were a little more weathered and a little less stable in the knees than they were 50 years ago, but everyone was smiling all the same as they reunited for the first time since their championship game.

He and his old teammates started their day on the golf course before heading back to his home for appetizers and dinner.

Half a century later, the most vivid memory of the game is how cold it was.

“The temperature dropped down to freezing and none of us had coats,” Barry Newhouse said in an interview.

He wasn’t the only one who remembered the chill in the air.

Fred Enns said all he recalls is the cold.

The vision of the whole team together was more vibrant to everybody.

“It’s almost surreal,” Enns said of the reunion.

He had not seen most of his teammates in nearly 50 years, though some had been his closest friends back then.

Enns has remained close with Tim Greves over text despite the distance between them.

The reunited fastball players were cracking beers and smiles all evening while sharing old stories with each other.

“I almost recognize nobody,” said Mark Southcott with his tongue in his cheek.

He described the experience of seeing his old friends as “enchanting.”

In his case it was 47 years since he'd last seen some of them.

“There’s a good chance we’ll never see them again for the rest of our lives,” Southcott said.

Faced with the reality that everyone was getting older, he said he’s happy he and his teammates “got today."

Evan Loree, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Lake Report