MACCAN – The Maccan Royals baseball team is gone but not forgotten.
Former Royals player and coach, Darren Collins, has been inducted into the Nova Scotia Intermediate Baseball League Hall of Fame as a player.
“The only reason I’m there is because I had a lot of great teammates and coaches like Ted Dwyer and Albert Voss (both in the Hall of Fame),” said Collins.
The Royals joined the league in 2000, and was one of the first teams to join the league.
Collins was on that first team and his dad, Harrison, coached Maccan at the time.
“He wanted to see me get better, and because of him I did get better,” said Collins.
Fathers who coach often don’t want to be perceived as giving their son preferential treatment and that was the case for Collins.
“My dad was hard on me when he was coaching but he sort of stepped back and Teddy (Dwyer) took over and he gave me my first chance to be a real player,” said Collins. “I was more of a bench player but when Teddy took over he had me bat lead-off.
“Every Sunday I knew what the line-up was. I knew I was batting first and playing centre field.”
Collins presently lives almost across from the ball diamond in Maccan and has seen many changes over the years.
“It’s almost sad to see,” said Collins. “Teddy (Dwyer), he always did a great job looking after the field. He mowed the field, and kept the field up years after we were done playing.
“Now they’re putting a sewer lagoon down in Maccan and they have a big trench dug right through the middle of the field and all kinds of construction,” he added. “So it’s painful to see the field in that shape after spending some of the best years of my life down there.”
During his playing days Maccan won three intermediate baseball AA Atlantic championships, and were also competitive in the AAA division.
“We were always right there,” said Collins. “We never won the league because Hantsport always gave us trouble, but we were always in the top four.”
Collins, Jeff Hoeg and Carl McIsaac were the only players who were a part of all three AA titles.
Collins said Maccan had a strong baseball program.
“For a small community, mostly guys from River Hebert and Joggins, we had a lot of really talented players over the years.”
Collins played eight years with Maccan before they folded.
“We had a lot of guys who worked shift work and guys had families and couldn’t commit,” said Collins. “There just wasn’t the number of guys down around there to have a team anymore.”
When the Royals folded, Collins played for Dooly’s in Amherst, and then in 2009 started a new team in Maccan, which he coached.
“It was mostly a team made up of players from Amherst,” said Collins. “We didn’t do too bad but the thing with young guys is a lot of them are going to university and it’s hard for them to commit year after year.”
Collins then coached Dooly’s to the NSIBL championship in 2010, but that team has since folded.
“It’s disappointing. There’s a lot of really good baseball players and it’s a shame there’s not an intermediate team in Cumberland County.”
“When I first started there was a Cumberland intermediate baseball league,” added Collins. “There was a team in Maccan, Joggins, Wentworth, and a couple of teams in Amherst. There were a lot of really good ball players.”
Collins presently teaches advanced mathematics at Amherst Regional High School, and coaches the Vikings slopitch and baseball programs with Charlie Chambers.
“I still coach the high school team but I miss coaching and being around the field in the summer,” said Collins. “I’d love to see another (NSIBL) team and I’d love to be involved somehow.”
Collins says Amherst has one of the best little league systems, a strong bantam and midget program, and he doesn’t understand why there isn’t a strong intermediate team in Amherst.
“I don’t know if the kids lose interest or what happens to them,” he said. “There’s a lot of good, young players who should be playing (intermediate) baseball.”
Collins’ career statistics as a player in the NSIBL
Batting average – .343
On-base percentage – .430
Hits – 196
The Hall of Fame says, “Darren will be remembered as being the smoothest centre fielder to grace the ball fields of Cumberland County.”
Other 2013 inductees are:
Player, Ross Colburn
Player, Steve MacLeod
Player/Coach, Shane Oickle
Builder, Terry Dunbrack.