December 29 will be a momentous day for the Canberra Cavalry as the past and present of Canberra’s baseball universe unite to celebrate the capital’s love for the sport.
The Canberra Cavalry is set to host a throwback night to pay tribute to and celebrate the 25th anniversary of Canberra’s baseball pioneers – the Canberra Bushrangers – who represented the city in the Australian Baseball League from 1993 to 1995.
The Cavalry will don black and teal caps and the famous pinstripes when they play as the Bushrangers in the third game of a series against the newest ABL team, the Auckland Tuatara, at MIT Ballpark.
A mainstay throughout the 25 years is current Cavalry manager Keith Ward, who played for the Bushrangers all those years ago as a fresh-faced 21-year-old.
“Playing for the Bushrangers was a good experience for me and was certainly an eye-opener and it set me up for what was to come,” he said. “I had never really been exposed to baseball at that level so I really had no idea about what to expect.
“I think the biggest thing to come out of the Bushrangers years was the influx of young kids to baseball because the exposure the team provided. All of a sudden there was another professional sport in town and kids became interested.
“The Cavalry definitely benefited from the Bushrangers 10 years on because, in the early days of the Cavalry, we had players who were playing for us that had been introduced to baseball thanks to the Bushrangers.”
When the Bushrangers wrapped up after only two seasons, most people would have thought the door had closed on a Canberra’s dream of having a professional baseball team.
But thanks to the Let’s Do It Canberra! Campaign back in 2009 and a dedicated Canberra Baseball board, a professional baseball team made its home in Canberra.
“It was definitely a long time between drinks from when the Bushrangers ended and the Cavalry started up, but the positive is that as a group we were better prepared for the long haul,” Ward said.
To make the game even more special, the Cavalry has invited all Bushrangers’ past players to attend the game, after which, a visit to the GIO Stadium in the afternoon has also been planned. While GIO Stadium is more recognisable today as the home of the Raiders and Brumbies, few people know that it was also the Bushrangers’ home base for their two seasons in Canberra.
The Canberra Cavalry would like to thank long-time club sponsor and champion of Canberra sport, Richard Rolfe of Rolfe Motors, for his remarkable commitment to the game. Besides the Cavalry, the Bushrangers were also fortunate enough to experience the depth of his generosity in the 90s.
“I love my sport, and I had a lot of good times at the Bushrangers games,” Mr Rolfe said. “When I heard the Cavalry wanted to mark the 25th anniversary of the Bushrangers’ arrival in Canberra, I couldn’t wait to help out.
“I’ve seen the uniform designs and they look sharp. It’ll be a real trip down memory lane.”