Baseball in the Early Botha Area

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CraigBaird

Unlike many communities in Canada, Botha took awhile to get around the hockey trend. While people did play on frozen rinks, not very much hockey was played in those early years of the 20th century. For the people of Botha, many who came from the United States, the sport to play was baseball.
The first baseball diamond, for the entire area, was located on the land of Les Eyestone, north of Botha. The first organized team was Happy Hollow, and they were one of four teams entered Stettler’s first annual celebration on July 6, 1906. The other teams were two from Stettler and the Tees.
Happy Hollow would defeat Stettler 9-4 in that first game of the tournament, before falling to the second Stettler team 8-5 in the final.
By 1910, Botha was the focal point for all baseball in the area and most of the surrounding communities no longer had teams. Botha kept going strong though. Early players for Botha included Jack Ferguson, Earl Prudden, Roy Snyder, Walter Friend and Wilber Eyestone, who managed the team.
By the 1920s, Botha was playing in the Lone Pine League against Zenith, Pine Lake and a team called The Sod-Busters. That team was made up of farmers from around Botha. In many ways, that team was the farm team of the better Botha team. Most of the players on the Sod-Busters were good, but not good enough for the Botha team. When they improved, they were often called over to play for Botha. The first diamond for the team was in a cow pasture, before a proper diamond was made nearby on a property.
Baseball was such a passion for Botha that they would play it in the winter as well. There is a record of a game, played on either Jan. 25 or 26, 1931, between Stettler and Botha. Stettler would win the rather cold game.
In the early-1930s, Walter Friend, the long-time manager of the Botha team, was able to put together probably the best team the community and area had ever seen. For several years, the team was unbeatable in the local league. When they would play on the provincial level, they quickly won several tournaments and were a force on the baseball circuits.
Several successful baseball players came from those Botha teams. Walter Seyer played for Botha before moving on to play one season in the semi-pro Edmonton and District Baseball League, and for a league in British Columbia. His son Fred also had success and played semi-pro baseball for four years in Delaware, and for the Calgary Dodgers in 1962. He played for the Edmonton Tigers from 1968 to 1974 in the Alberta Major Baseball League. Graeme Greenlee would play in the Peace River League, and Gary Greenlee played for the Drumheller Star Miners. Their sister, Gloria, was a successful softball player and would play for several Senior A Women’s teams. In 1978, she played with New Westminster, the Canadian champion, in a World Championship tournament in El Salvador. The Canadian team would take home the silver medal.
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