'Quite an accomplishment': Fredericton's baseball history on display

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'Quite an accomplishment': Fredericton's baseball history on display

'Quite an accomplishment': Fredericton's baseball history on display

Baseball fans now have a new shrine to Fredericton's boys of summer.

The exhibit Baseball Hill was unveiled Sunday at the Fredericton Region Museum.

The exhibit tells the story of Fredericton's baseball past, from the earliest recorded games in the 1800s all the way up to more recent successes.

Bill Saunders, the curator of the exhibit, said it was a daunting task to decide what should be included in the exhibit.

"That was a real, real tough one for me," said Saunders.

"We have in the city of Fredericton three Canadian Championship teams. I darn near missed one."

Saunders is not only the exhibit's curator, but is also an integral part of the city's baseball fabric.

He coached the Fredericton Royals, at the time named the Sutherland Marysville Royals, to a national championship in 1981, and was inducted into the New Brunswick Sports Hall of Fame in 1996.

"We had a great team and we laid the foundation," said Saunders.

"There's other teams that's won the nationals since then; Moncton, Chatham, Saint John. But we kind of hopefully set the pace that said to everyone else 'we can get it done.'"

Province's baseball pedigree

Included in the exhibit are memorabilia from New Brunswickers who made it to the major leagues.

This includes items relating to Matt Stairs, Rhéal Cormier and Jason Dickson, all of whom played in the majors at roughly the same time.

"We had three New Brunswickers in the big leagues at one time, quite an accomplishment for a small province like New Brunswick," said Saunders.

Fredericton native Stairs is heavily featured in the exhibit which includes some of his bats, jerseys and even a base from the 2008 World Series which he played in, and won, with the Philadelphia Phillies.

"He's had a great career for us and it's been a great asset to our program here in Fredericton," said Saunders.

Lots of history

Much of the memorabilia comes from Saunders own collection which includes a baseball signed by Hank Aaron and a personally autographed Ted Williams photo.

But his most prized possession is a group photo of the 1981 Fredericton Royals that he led to the National Championship.

"I have a lot of autographed baseballs from people that are now inducted in Cooperstown which I've collected over the years. But I think the Canadian Championship Team [group photo] has to be my favourite," said Saunders.

Saunders is still involved in baseball in the city.

He's currently the assistant coach of the Royals, who will begin their post-season on Sept. 1 against the Moncton Fisher Cats.

"I'm enjoying it. I love being around it and all the friendships that you make," said Saunders.

"It's just been a great journey for me."