Elliott: Pegg, Roberts inducted into OBA HOF

By Bob Elliott
Canadian Baseball Network

Before elite baseball, the grand lady of the province was the Ontario Baseball Association.

Before the August elimination championship weekend existed there were the OBA playdowns. One best-of-three series after another -- for the winning team -- sometimes leading into late October.

And before each playoff game players had to sign these yellow cards. 

Since I was too old to chase bats and not talented enough to play for either my father’s Kingston Ponies junior or senior team, I had other duties in the 1960s. It was my job to hire kids to chase fly balls, arrange who rode with whom on trips, what time we left, get everyone to sign in on these yellow OBA cards and then score the game.

It was not easy ... especially when it came to our third-place hitter: first baseman Guy White. It took a couple of seasons to learn how to determine the pecking order.

No more grabbing the first player I saw or going 1-thru-9 and then the bench players or relievers.

White always had to go first.

Why? Because I’d place the card on my scorebook, he’d sign and I’d walk off to the next guy only to look down to see he had signed in as Gordie Howe or Eric Nesterenko or Bronco Horvath of the Boston Bruins, my favorite player at the time, or a fictitious name.  

If he was say the 10th player to sign and dropped a Nesterenko on the yellow card, I then had to start all over again with a fresh card. He was, as we used to say ... a royal pain, but as father said, he could hit. 

Why the yellow card? Well, the cards had to be sent off to the OBA secretary Mr. Ron Pegg. 

Pegg was a four-letter word on the days White tricked me and I had to start over. I could imagine him sitting there -- maybe wearing a jeweller’s set of magnifying glasses -- as he compared each signature to the original player contract signed before June 1.

And Pegg taught me geography. His mailing address was in Flesherton. Where on earth was Flesherton?

Being a curious teenager I had to wonder where in this great province was the OBA seat of power. I imagine trucks rolling up Thursday morn with bags of mail -- filled with yellow cards from weekend games.

Flesherton was south of Owen Sound ... we found. But on a Monday morn after a win, it may as well have been Ottawa or Washington, DC ... it was head office. Especially in 1967, when Doug Arniel homered off the top of the hockey arena beyond the centre field fence for a game-winning homer as the Ponies edged the Orillia Majors in the deciding game for Kingston’s first senior provincial championship since 1932 ... when Arneil’s father played.

Now that you have read this far you are wondering why the big deal about Mr. Ron Pegg? 

Well, Pegg and Jack Roberts (Campbellville) were elected to the Baseball Ontario Hall of Fame in November.      

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Roberts, who signed a yellow card or two in his day, joined the Campbellville Merchants at age 18 for the inaugural 1952 season when Len Andrews’ Intermediate team began. Making the jump from juvenile, over the next 16 years, Roberts was 180-56 (.796 win pct) with a career ERA of 1.89. 

He pitched for the Campbellville in 15 of its 16-year run counting for 43.5% of the club’s 411 wins. At 32, in 1966, he pitched consecutive no-hitters against Corunna in the OBA final. In those 18 innings he did not walk a man. 

The Merchants went 411-122-16 in 16 seasons from 1952-67, finishing first or second in Halton County league play every year including 11 straight first place finishes from 1956-1966. The team captured 12 Ontario championships and finished runner-up twice. 

* * *
Pegg, a life member, contributed for more than 40 years. It all began when he was coaching in Beeton, as one of the organizers in the 1950s, and he chaired the founding meeting of the York Simcoe Association, serving as its first president for four years and secretary and registrar for two more.

In 1969, Pegg became York Simcoe’s first appointee to the Baseball Ontario board and in 1976, he was an elected board member where he was appointed secretary, treasurer, registrar and yellow card collector, a position he held for 15 years. 

He was founder of the Flesherton Minor program, which enjoyed success in Baseball Ontario competition as well as the Western Ontario Baseball Association. Executive members and volunteers Noreen Brodie, Don and Muriel Stewart and Barb Henry organized the WOBA. 

Pegg was the first to implement the tournament format for playoffs in WOBA before other affiliates saw the benefits.

And in his spare time he started the OBA newsletter, Baseball Bits, in 1979 on a few photocopied sheets of paper serving as editor until 1995. Baseball Ontario’s first computer was purchased for the office in Pegg’s basement. His wife Cathy and children Jamie, Rob and Stacey were also involved.

Pegg started participation development clinics in 1987 as an outreach program to areas of the province where baseball was new or non-existent. The clinics contributed greatly to the growth of our game, particularly in northern Ontario. As well he was a primary leader in the development of Rookie Ball and girls’ baseball. 

Baseball Ontario Hall of Fame

Builder: Ron Pegg

Player: Jack Roberts

Player: Ron Stead

Team: Campbellville Merchants (1952-1967)

Builder: Vi Christopher

Builder: Carmen Bush

Player: Ferguson Jenkins

Team: Windsor Chiefs Senior Baseball Team 1982-1991

SandlotsBob Elliott