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Bench Talk / Off The Wire

The Greatest Game Ever Played


By Fred Wallace

 There are retirements in sports that get significant coverage, but there's an equal number, probably many more in number, that get precious little attention.


In my view, the Bluewater Fastball retirement of Andy Jackson of the Wiarton Nationals is among the departures that deserved a little more notice.


Jackson has been a pitcher, a hitter, a notable player, for more than 3 decades at every level of the sport, including the elite National and International Championships.


But no matter where Jackson played, no matter how big the stage was, no matter how well he pitched or hit, I always go back to probably the best ball game I ever saw.


At the 1986 Owen Sound Men's Fastball League Tournament, staged on a blazing hot weekend, the semifinal pitted the Sports Stop against the Kramer Contracting Bantams.


The pitcher for Kramer's was a youthful Andy Jackson, like the rest of his teammates 14, maybe 15, years of age, playing against a well established local men's team.


Through the course of time, I've forgotten whether the game went 16, 18 or 21 innings, but it was LONG, it was HOT & it was an AMAZING game at Duncan McLellan Park.


What was most amazing was that outside of Butch Shute, who was probably 9 for 11 in the game, none of the Sports Stop men managed much against Jackson until, understandably he tired and withdrew to the outfield, which allowed Sports Stop to plate their only run and eliminate the Kramer Bantams from the tournament.


Andy Jackson probably played in bigger games with more on the line, but the 1986 Men's League Tournament Semifinal game at Duncan McLellan Park is a local epic, the most remarkable ball game I've ever seen.

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