Club History

Compiled and written by D Jones.

From 1950 to 2010, The Bellville Tygers Baseball Club has a tremendously rich history. Spanning some six decades, the legends and heroes from our midst are many, and we’re still going strong…

At the writing hereof in February 2010, the Club is about to complete its illustrious 60th year of existence and looks headed for another ML victory which will be all the more fitting for such a memorable year!!

The 2nd team also looks headed for league victory which would be a fantastic double for the Club in such an unforgettable year of its history!!

The Fifties

During 1950 a few boys from the small, Northern suburbs town of Bellville, decided to get together to play baseball. Some had turned out for Brick Demons in Durban Road (where the brickfields were situated) while others were from the Rugby Club. The latter had come to such a decision at the annual club braai at Pit Duminy’s farm in Welgemoed to stay together during their “off “season.

And thus were sown the seeds of what was to become at on stage, one of Western Province’s and indeed one of South Africa’s biggest and most successful baseball clubs!

The first games were played behind the Oval Athletic Track (situated on Voortrekker Road) on the then rugby “B” ground and next to Haardekraaltjie Caravan Park.

Apparently the first kit cost £90 (approx. R180) at 1950 prices.

They had to field two teams but initially only had 14 players, so by the 7th innings of the early game would pick up their kit, thank the opposition and rush across town for the late game in the only two cars available!

Some of the first players were Arthur Ripp, Cecil Cullen, Wally Brown and the Sieff brothers, Archie and Percy, the latter being of Radio and TV fame. Others included Peter van der Velde, Piet de Lange, Piet Neethling, Jannie Louw and Porky Muller; a veritable mix of English and Afrikaans speakers that harmoniously co-existed in pursuit of their passion in what was to become a hall mark of the club for so many years!

During 1953 – 1954 Tony Harrison, the new Chairman invited the defunct Parow side to join and Fred Simon’s (Eric’s dad!), Mannetjies Viljoen, Basil Marshal, Bertie Wendlandt and Orrie de Maio joined.

Bobby Matthee and Lionel Pearce followed from Brick Demons.

The club started out in the 8th league and rapidly gained promotion to the second league!

The Seventies started off in fine fashion with the 1st Team runners up in the 1970/71 Majors.

That young team consisted of inter alia, Brian Hawken pitching to Chris Nunes or Amadeu Andrade, Dennis Jones on 1st, Kiki de Kock on 2nd, Alan Lofthouse at short-stop, Alfie Andrade on 3rd. In the left field was Louis Seyfried , Brian Smyth in centre and John Hon as relief pitcher in right field. See Team Photo elsewhere.

It is interesting to note that Kiki De Kock never came through the little league ranks but started playing baseball for the first time in the 1969/70 season as a 19 year-old and already made it to the 1st team the following season! But then again Maurice Geffen, who was the most wily and shrewd ML Coach of his era, apparently never even played Baseball!! As the old saying goes: “Cream rises to the top”!

In 1971 the Club celebrated its 21st Anniversary with a function at the New National Hotel with co-founder Percy Sieff as the honoured guest speaker.

The following season (1971/72) was characterized by the now legendary and infamous Baseball Tour to Port Elizabeth, East London and Durban by the Union-Castle mail ship, Windsor Castle.

Apart from individual savings, the trip was funded by a massive fund-raising drive over the previous two seasons by way of Christmas Hampers, Hypnotist Max Collie Shows and the hosting of live bands to offer the awesome “sessions “of the sixties and seventies at the Club, the Jewish and Masonic Halls.

The touring party, headed up by Maurice Geffen and “Porky” Pienaar and ably assisted by baggage master Ronnie Knyff, included up-and-coming youngsters like brothers Kevin and Sean Smyth and Franzie Rohm.

There is no doubt the team would have returned much more favourable results had it not been for the presence of a young ladies hockey team on board that unfortunately caused much distraction to the players!

After the 1971/72 season Maurice Geffen, disenchanted with the lack of vision shown by administrators of the game in the WP, broke away to spearhead and form the Boland Baseball League with the intention of spreading the baseball gospel to the platteland.

The fledgling league consisted of teams like Sanlam, Van der Stel, Stellenbosch University and Somerset West.

Another feature of the late seventies was the addition of women’s softball sides under the leadership of the late Mrs. Aproskie. By the late eighties this division of the club had grown to 3 sides and a valuable asset to the social side of the club’s activities.

The 1989/1990 season was hardly two-thirds through when the dramatic and unexpected announcement of Nelson Mandela’s release was made public by F.W De Klerk on the 2nd February 1990!!

Until this time Baseball had been played upon strictly racial lines with the “white” Western Province Baseball Association (WPBA) being in charge of our baseball since the inception of the club.

After unity talks that lasted a couple of seasons, the new unified Baseball Association (BAWP) was born.

Baseball in the province and the country was now completely and irretrievably non-racial.

Julio Piaoni took over from Kiki de Kock as Chairman in about 1994 and then he in turn was succeeded by Danny Greeff for two seasons until Colin Windell took over the reins in 1998.

During this period the Club adapted well to the new social changes and continued to enjoy a good measure of success on the playing fields, especially in the late Nineties as the world rushed to the end of a century and the dawn of a new Millenium beckoned!

The New Century & Millennium

After the completion of the 1999/2000 baseball season in March 2000, the new century started off auspiciously with the 50th Anniversary celebration of the Club on Friday the 5th May, 2000 at the Bellville Civic Centre. It took the form of a formal “collar & tie” dinner and a highlight of the night was the attendance, upon invitation, of senior Goodwood Demons Baseball Club members as special and honoured guests.

Organised by Kiki De Kock, Chris Nunes and Colin Windell and MC’d by Dennis Jones; the evening was a huge success with the main speakers being Maurice Geffen, Ernie Leonard and the three organizers.

Past players arrived from all over the country and an e-mail of congratulations from Australia was even received from Percy Sieff, one of the club’s founders!! (See gallery of photos)

This wonderful evening ushered in what was to arguably be Bellville Baseball’s golden era as far as Major League results are concerned!! The honours are too many too mention here, but suffice it to say that the 1st team garnered more honours during this period than ever before in the Club’s history.

Ably led by Colin Windell (1998-2003 and 2006 and 2007), Hannes Olivier (2004 and 2005), Louis Seyfried (2008 and 2009) and Alan Philips (2009/2010 Season), the Club continues to this day to be a force in WP baseball with Springboks Alan Phillips Head Coach of the 1st team and Chris Nunes heading the 2nd team!

At the writing hereof in early February 2010, the Club is about to complete its illustrious 60th year of existence and looks headed for another ML victory which will be all the more fitting for such a memorable year!!

The 2nd team also looks headed for league victory which would be a fantastic double for the Club in such an unforgettable year of its history!!

The Future

And so, after looking back for six decades, we now need to turn around and focus our eyes forward, building on the mistakes and glories of the past, to forge a sustainable future for the next generations.

Voluntary associations such as the BBC, rely on the unpaid and charitable contributions of players, parents and the like to keep the boat afloat, so to speak. In an era of increased social demands and time constraints, it is essential for a dedicated few to take the baton and run with it for the good of the uninvolved many.

This history is intended to act as an inspiration and motivation to current members to ensure that the Club’s proud history is honoured and continued with well in to the future.

That at least, is the fervent hope!