Photo reunites early ball players on Bowen’s ‘field of dreams’

Who do you recognize from this photo of the 1976 Bowen Island men’s baseball team? Let us know!

At the Men’s Fastpitch Tournament on Bowen last summer, I walked over to the field to watch the last baseball game but also with another purpose in mind. 

I had come across a photograph of the 1976 Bowen Island men’s baseball team, which I had been given as a member of the team. The photo has a special meaning in Bowen’s baseball history. Under the sponsorship of the Bowen Island Legion, the team was part of the first formal baseball league involving the participation of Bowen Island––complete with brand new, blue and gold uniforms bearing the Royal Canadian Legion crest. 

I carefully framed the photo and brought it to the tournament to present to Eddie Weismiller, the venerated baseball pioneer and league hall of fame inductee who was a part of it all from the beginning, and is synonymous with the game on Bowen Island. 

I showed the photo to players and coaches, which caused much interest and a variety of emotions––ranging from enthusiastic responses from those who recognized some of the players to nostalgic reminiscences from old timers like myself. Glen McGregor, another baseball icon and hall of fame inductee, took a keen interest in closely examining the photo. There ensued various animated discussions regarding the members of the team and many dutiful attempts at remembering the names of players who had long left the island. I could not help but marvel at the lively scene caused by that single photo––a delightful confirmation of how huge baseball is on our island!

When I spotted Eddie on the field after the game and walked over to present the photo to him, something rather remarkable occurred. Apart from Eddie and myself, George Helenius and Nelson Riley––the only other islanders in the photo who still live on Bowen––were also there! There is a shared humanity in the game of baseball which defies description, and the level of emotion became decidedly nostalgic at that moment.

Bowen ball players
(From left to right) Eddie Weismiller, John Sbragia, Nelson Riley and George Helenius with photo of the 1976 Bowen Island Men’s Baseball Team. - Courtesy of John Sbragia

Needless to say, it was particularly sweet for the four of us to be there as I presented Eddie with the framed photo. The moment was not lost on any of us, including   a tournament team member who was very happy to take a picture of the four of us around the photo of Bowen’s fledgling “Boys of Summer.” 

As we gathered for the picture, Eddie was visibly moved as were all of us––warmly and proudly reunited on Bowen’s “field of dreams.”

© Copyright Bowen Island Undercurrent