Baseball returns to Folkestone after 100 years

Fri 21 Jun 2019

Baseball returned to Folkestone after a gap of 100 years on Sunday 16 June when the CANUK Warriors took on the Buccaneers Baseball Travel Team at Three Hills Sports Park in Folkestone in the Great War Baseball Game supported by Folkestone Town Council. 

The match, organised by local enthusiast Andrew Taylor of the Folkestone Baseball Chronicle, was enjoyed by a large crowd that witnessed the Kent-based Buccaneers win by a score of 13-1.

The Canadian team had been recruited entirely from serving members of the Canadian Armed Forces in the UK, commemorating the military baseball leagues that originated in Folkestone in 1915.  On the back of the Canadians’ shirts was a second name tag representing a deployment or operation that was of significance to each of them.

The Buccaneers Baseball Travel Team travel the world playing baseball tournaments, notably the MSBL/MABL World Series, held in Arizona on MLB Spring Training facilities every year, and exhibition games at the Field of Dreams facility in Iowa.  The team for this particular game was composed of players from the Kent Buccaneers Baseball Club, Kent Mariners Baseball Club, London Mets Baseball Club and Bracknell Baseball Club.

Presentations and an exchange of gifts were made before the game by Warrant Officer Chris Anderson and Brigadier General Lowell Thomas.

The National Anthems of Canada and the UK were sung before the game by trained opera singer and right fielder Petty Officer (2nd Class) Josee Sulyma.  The Mayor of Folkestone, Councillor Jackie Meade, threw the ceremonial first pitch which was caught by game organiser Andrew Taylor.

The game

Strong gusts of wind caused some initial problems for the Canadians, who after five innings trailed the Buccaneers by 5-0.  The Bucs, eager to extend their advantage, began to swing for the fences, but the wind held up the high fly balls for catches by the Canadian outfielders.

Though the score line suggests the game was one-sided, the Canadians batted patiently, getting players on base and into scoring position, often on stolen bases, but were unable to bring them home.

Meanwhile, the Buccaneers continued to score steadily, and it wasn’t until the eighth inning that the Canadians’ catcher, Warrant Officer Chris Anderson, hit a line drive that scored Captain Elizabeth Poulin for their lone run.

A memorable feature of the game was the Canadians’ cheering, for what they lacked in runs they more than made up for in spirit.

After the game the Mayor presented a trophy made locally by Atec 3D to the Buccaneers’ skipper Jon Carter.


Warrant Officer Chris Anderson said, “Today was a great day for baseball and, I believe, for the town of Folkestone.  We are humbled by the support of everyone who came to Three Hills Sports Park today and even though we were the visiting team we felt like we had the home town crowd with us from first pitch to the final handshake.  We did really well today and are proud of ourselves and the effort and result we have achieved.  On behalf of the CANUK Warriors and their families we want to thank the Madam Mayor, Councillor Jackie Meade and the organisers for their invitation and this wonderful hospitality.”

Jon Carter of the Bucs said, “When I was first approached by baseball historian Andrew Taylor asking if I knew of any teams who might like to play baseball against the Canadian Armed Forces Baseball Team commemorating baseball being played in Folkestone 100 years ago, I jumped at the chance!  Every player involved was honoured to be part of such an historic event and we hope this can become an annual remembrance of all the heroes from the Great War who served and played baseball between 1914 and 1919.”

Talks are underway to arrange another fixture next year and to make baseball a regular feature on the local calendar.

Team line-ups

The CANUK Warriors team included:

Captain Y Shank (Pitcher)
Brigadier-General L Thomas (First Base)
Commander C Bursey (Outfield)
Petty Officer First Class C McBride (Third Base)
Major D Martimbeault (Second Base)
Warrant Officer Chris Anderson (Catcher)
Master Corporal P Mitchell (Outfield)
Captain E Poulin (Shortstop)
Corporal S Coulombe (Outfield)
Lieutenant-Colonel J Price (Shortstop)
Corporal M Ferland (Outfield)
Petty Officer Second Class J Sulyma (Outfield)

The Buccaneers Baseball Travel Team included:

J Carter (Pitcher/Catcher)
B Webb (Pitcher)
R Turtill (First Base)
L Ryan (Outfield)
J Moran (Outfield)
R Presnell (Pitcher/Third Base)
C Varrell (Outfield/Pitcher)
K Peskett (Outfield/First Base)
R Bristow (Catcher/Shortstop)
T Corby (Outfield)
L Cook (Outfield)
R Osborne (Second Base/Shortstop)
T Nash (Pitcher/Catcher/Shortstop)
A Picariello (Second Base)

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