Baseball for life

A passion for baseball and the community is what kept Clyde Cumming involved with the Latrobe Valley Baseball Association for more than half his life.

Earlier this month, the baseball administrator retired after serving the association for 32 years.

During his time he held positions that included secretary and junior president.

Cumming began playing baseball as a teenager in 1968, but was forced to retire in 1984 following an accident that left him with permanent back and neck injuries.

“I didn’t want to stop playing, but had no choice,” Cumming said.

“Getting into the administration side of things, as well as umpiring, was a way for me to stay involved.”

Because of Cumming’s expertise he was appointed to similar roles at state and national levels.

In 2006, his contributions to the sport were recognised when he was awarded an Australian Sports medal, something he said was a highlight.

During his career, Cumming observed the peaks and troughs of baseball in the Valley, and recalled a time during the late 1970s when Morwell had three teams.

“It used to be really popular down here,” he said.

“The technical school was the Sluggers, the high school was the Rebels and then there was the Cougars, who are of course still going.”

Cumming believed there were a few reasons for the decline in numbers.

One is the absence of a professional team in the area.

“In the 1980s when there were national players down here, it was huge,” Cumming said.

“Guys like Aaron Harvey went on to play in the minor leagues in America; it was inspiring for kids to see players like that around.”

Another issue he believed was many of the players from that vibrant period did not want to take up administrative and coaching roles, which he said were integral to the longevity of any sporting association.

“Kids aren’t interested in doing the boring stuff anymore,” he said.

“It takes a lot of work behind the scenes to make a club or association run, and sports are always competing with each other for numbers.”

About three years ago, the association bottomed out in terms of numbers, but since then they have slowly begun to pick up, something Cumming hopes will continue.

Although he is retiring from the association, Cumming will continue his involvement with the national masters team.