WINDSOR, N.S. — Three Hants County baseball players recently had a shot at winning a World Series title.
Al Simm, Ed Sherman, and Jeff Burgess, members of the Nova Scotia Monarchs, competed at the Roy Hobbs World Series in Fort Myers, Florida. The Monarchs competed in the AAA Legends 53-plus division Nov. 11-17 and won the first five games to advance to the semi-finals.
In the semi-finals, the Monarchs defeated the Bahama Breeze Islands 5-4, the Omaha Indians 16-6 and the Orlando Blazers 5-4 to secure a championship finale against the Massachusetts Chiefs.
They lost the final 14-6, but returned home with a silver medal — and bragging rights.
“This year, our fielding was much, much better. We didn’t make very many errors... and we hit good,” said Simm, who has been with the Monarchs for four years and has made the trip annually.
“The highlight was finishing as good as we did because we don’t ever finish that good,” the Upper Falmouth resident said with a chuckle.
“Our on base percentage was a lot higher this year than in previous years.”
The Roy Hobbs World Series promotes adult amateur recreation baseball, bringing five weeks of competition to Fort Myers. There’s a women’s division, plus men’s divisions separated by age (from 35 to 75-plus).
For Monarchs’ shortstop Ed Sherman, the championship marked his first international trip with the Nova Scotia team.
“This was my first experience. That’s actually something the guys tease me about,” said Sherman, who calls Windsor home. “They’ve been playing for years and years and years and they’ve never done this well... This is my first year and we end up in a championship for Triple A.”
He credits the success to a variety of factors, including how well the team gelled as soon as they played their first game.
“I don’t think it was one specific thing; I think it was just how it kind of snowballed and kept growing. It seems like we picked up some momentum and just carried it through.”
Hants County players bring unique element to sport
Eric Anthony, the head coach of the 53-plus team, formed the Halifax-based league several years ago.
He said the Hants County players all contributed to the silver medal.
“They’re three of the nicest guys you could meet. They all bring a different element, I guess you could say, to the game,” said Anthony.
Burgess was the third baseman.
“He adds a lot of power and a lot of smarts to the game,” said Anthony.
Anthony joked that he hoped Sherman wouldn’t be spoiled by the exceptional result the team had.
“He was phenomenal. His defence was excellent and he’s even, at a late age, learning how to switch hit. His hitting is very, very good,” said Anthony.
As for Simm, he “was our lead-off and he had great offence and he was selected as our MVP of the tournament.”
Simm played in the outfield.
“I don’t know how they could pick an MVP out of all of that,” Simm said in a phone interview after returning from the trip.
“To me, everybody down there was an MVP with just the way everything came together for us,” Simm added.
Anthony has watched the league it grow considerably over the past three years.
“We started about three years ago with 40 guys. In a matter of three years, we’ve expanded to six teams and 90 guys. It’s going to grow next year. We could be possibly up to eight teams,” said Anthony, noting that while they’re based in HRM, they have players from throughout the province, including several from the Valley.
The Nova Scotia Monarchs had four teams compete in Fort Myers in 2018; Anthony hopes to be sending up to six next year.
“Over the next couple of months we will be deciding if we will have a 70-plus team and if we will have a second 53 team,” he said, adding there’s at least 14 people who have expressed an interest in competing in the higher age bracket.
Registration for the league, and the 2019 Roy Hobbs World Series, begins in March. Anthony says the league is optimistic that it will continue to grow as more senior baseball players realize they can continue playing the sport they love in a more recreational, yet still competitive, fashion.
“A bunch of older baseball players love to do it if they can. It’s just a matter of setting it up and having it there for them,” said Anthony.
To learn more about the Monarchs or how to get involved, visit: https://novascotiamonarchs.weebly.com/