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Horne Memorial bench
 

Memorial bench honours fastball icon

   

   Bill Horne remembered for his tremendous contribution to the sport

  

 

  July 18, 2022

 

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By Rob J. Ross

FINGAL, Ont. - Bill Horne spent countless hours at the Fingal ball park.

Now the memory of the local fastball icon, who passed away in 2021, will live on at the diamond.

A memorial bench in Horne's name was revealed at a dedication ceremony, July 10.

"It's a small token of a bunch of people's appreciation, for what Bill did for the community and fastball in the area," said Tom Edie. "It's at a park where he spent a lot of hours, not only living beside, because he used to live in the house beside there, but also grooming and preparing for tournaments and coaching teams."

Edie, along with Larry Lynch, Gary Wren and the Centennial Sports Club, were instrumental in making the memorial happen.

"We thought it would be a good idea to honour him, in such a way that would be a lasting thing for other people to enjoy," added Edie. "It's not only to just watch ball, but for quiet reflection, in a shady spot, that gets some sun. Bill didn't like to get too hot."

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Wren and Edie both knew Horne well and shared stories and laughs, with a group of over 50 friends and family, including Bill's wife, Donna, who he met at a ball game in Pinafore park, daughter Jocelyn and her husband, Patrick Leahy and their children, Sloane and Fallon.

"For everyone here, the memories are in our hearts and thoughts of all the good times we had with Bill," said Wren. "He looked after the ball park and made sure the kids had a place to play."

Horne's career in fastball started as a pitcher, including records of 19-3 and 20-2, while in the Memorial League in 1973 and 74. Horne was also dominant as a batter, leading the league with a .341 average in 1975.

It was Horne's magic as a coach and manager that made him a legend in his sport.

Horne led Fingal to the junior Canadians in 1994, the first time since 1967 a local team had made it to the National championship. In the late 90s, he managed teams to three consecutive Ontario Amateur Softball Association (OASA) championships and a gold medal at Canadians.

"His career in managing is not matched by too many people," said Wren, adding with a laugh, so was Horne's appetite for buffets and steak houses where ever his teams were playing ball.

Fastball fans in St. Thomas will remember Horne brought the senior Canadians to St. Thomas, in 1999, 2005 and 2009.

With Horne at the helm, the St. Thomas Evergreen Centennials, won the senior National title, in 2005 and 2006 and took bronze, in both 2007 and 2009.

"Bill is a Canadian fastball icon," Edie said. "His career as manager and builder is Hall of Fame worthy. He was very dedicated to providing local players a place to play at the highest level."

Horne had his ways of coaching and opinions on the game.

Wren shared a memory of when he and Horne attended an OASA meeting.

"Bill wasn't a politician. He was very direct at telling anyone there their idea was not very good. On the way home, I would listen to a good idea," said Wren, with a smile. "To say Bill was constructively critical was probably accurate and controversial at times."

Still, Horne was well respected throughout the softball community.

"Players loved to play for him. He did a remarkable job putting successful teams together year after year," said Edie. "We talked about the way the game has changed and how he was steadfast and not changing the way he coached. That style of play became affectionately known as Billy ball. Our team was still bunting, stealing and running, when a lot of teams were relying on home runs. Billy ball was successful and fun."

Many of the players Horne coached, continue to play.

"Bill's passion was infectious and definitely passed on to many of us," Edie said. "A lot of guys he coached in junior and senior are still playing, in their 40s and 50s."

 

 


        rob@hometownplay.ca

 



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