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Vancouver Island’s first Little League celebrating its 70th birthday

Rookie minor tournament connects Greater Victoria youth with players from 1953
Bob Holness, who played in Victoria’s National Little League’s inaugural season in 1953, will be one of the players to return for the tournament this weekend. (Hollie Ferguson/News Staff)

The young and young-at-heart will meet on the diamond this weekend for a rookie minor tournament celebrating the resiliency of the Victoria National Little League.

The Doug Hudlin Charitable Society will host the tournament May 6 and 7 at Victoria’s Jerry Hale Field, for District 7 rookie minor teams from Greater Victoria.

It will also be an opportunity to celebrate the National Little League’s 70th anniversary.

“Seventy years is kind of a milestone,” said Don Moore, the vice-president of the Doug Hudlin Charitable Society. “We were the first little league, not only in Victoria, but on the Island.”

In celebration of the league’s anniversary, 10 players from the inaugural game May 12, 1953 will also be present.

“We’re lucky to have contacted 10 alumni members, who played here the very first year,” Moore said. “So on Sunday, we’re going to have those fine gentleman and honour them.”

The alumni players from 70 years ago will also be awarding the rookie minor teams with medals at the end of the tournament.

Bob Holness, who was 10 years old when he first played ball for the Victoria National Little League in 1953, said he is most looking forward to seeing his teammates from so many years ago. He is also looking forward to the connections he knows baseball can create at a young age.

“It is really for the kids,” Holness said. “It gets them together and I think it is just great. I think it is great that it is still going, because ball is going down here.”

Of the 12 little leagues that were in Victoria, Moore said only six remain, so this tournament is an opportunity to build community among the teams.

“We’re kind of the little park that could,” Moore said.

Bob Holness (from left), Barbara Hudlin and Don Moore stand below a banner honouring Doug Hudlin. (Hollie Ferguson/News Staff)
Bob Holness (from left), Barbara Hudlin and Don Moore stand below a banner honouring Doug Hudlin. (Hollie Ferguson/News Staff)

The Doug Hudlin Charitable Society is named in honour Hudlin, who was inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in 2017.

His niece, Barbara Hudlin, who sits on the board of the society, said her uncle worked to make baseball more inclusive and the society continues his work to this day.

“We’re in a lower income bracket for many parents, so that is something my charity does – if they can’t afford to play, they can come to the charity and I don’t ask any questions we just say, ‘Yeah, we’ll pay.’”

READ MORE: Ballpark plaque to honour Victoria umpire Doug Hudlin; Larry Walker to help officiate event

The rookie minor tournament is slated to be an annual event, playing out of various parks in Greater Victoria in years to come.

For more information on the tournament


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Hollie Ferguson

About the Author: Hollie Ferguson

Hollie moved to Victoria from Virginia in September 2022 with her partner Zachary and their two pups, Theodore and Bibi.
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