21 January 2006

How Baseball Came to Darwin, NT

Like the other states, the Northern Territory had played baseball informally for many years before joining the national competition. Japanese fisherman and, later, American servicemen were first to play the game there. Organized baseball in the Northern Territory started in 1953 through the efforts of Charles Se Kee, a leading citizen of the Darwin Chinese community and president of the Darwin Basketball Association. Northern Territory baseball was limited to far-flung Darwin, Alice Springs, Katherine, and Tennant Creek....

Darwin baseball began humbly with a competition among four teams. Equipment was expensive and difficult to obtain. While there were enough teams for a decent competition, lack of adequate facilities was a major problem. One player remembers: "We didn't have any baseball diamonds. We had the old Darwin Oval, used as an area for public functions. In those days there was no grass on the field, and it was just dirt and rock. We had to paint the lines. We didn't have lime in those days. It didn't matter because there was no grass. We played on the oval with a cliff behind us, and any foul balls would probably go off into the sea. The games were held up while we got kids to go down and try to find the ball." From its beginning baseball in Darwin was played at the wrong time of year, during the wet season from 1 October to the end of March. Darwin Baseball League tried a supplementary dry season competition in 1956, playing at Coonawarra Oval with moderate success. Subsequent supplementary dry season play was attempted in 1964-68 but was dropped in favor of wet season competition, which players supported [probably so they could keep playing cricket during the dry season--J.]. As baseball became more competitive, though, Darwin changed permanently to dry season baseball in 1984.
SOURCE: A History of Australian Baseball: Time and Game, by Joe Clark (U. Nebraska Press, 2003), pp. 78-79

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