An era which was best known for the counterculture and Vietnam war, also saw the birth of organized women’s softball in Canada in the 1960s, and Perth was in step with the evolution of the game. Playing in the St. Lawrence Ladies’ Softball League, the Perth Girls’ Softball (fastpitch) Club won the trophy in 1968, dominating in most league games. The team had been representing Perth from as early as 1963.
To set the scene, team member Ruth Greigson née Cousans was a local softball star, accomplished in all areas – pitching, batting and fielding. Ruth Cousans was the daughter of Inspector T.W. (Tommy) Cousans, head of Ontario Provincial Police #10 District in Perth. Tommy Cousans was mentioned in a recent column for his arrest at gunpoint of an armed robbery suspect in 1951 at the Glen Tay crossing.
Ruth Cousans married Wayne Greigson in Perth, however Ruth and Wayne moved to Steinbach, Manitoba in 2007 to be near their son and his family. John Greigson is a Sergeant with the RCMP in nearby Winnipeg. Sadly, I received news while still researching material for this column that Wayne Greigson passed away on March 30 at the age of 74. Ironically, the birth of Softball Canada took place in 1965 at a hotel in Winnipeg, while Ruth Cousans and her teammates were already playing ladies’ softball in Perth, the league still in its infancy.
Before we get to the accomplishments of that amazing team, let me tell you a little about prolific sports writer Murray Stone, who penned the articles I will be quoting from. Stone covered all local sports teams, whether playing in Perth or out of town. All this without the aid of a vehicle, according to John Clement, former owner and publisher of The Perth Courier.
Clement went on to say that Stone could be rather verbose in his writings, but was very thorough. “Reporting on local sporting events was a huge area to cover, particularly during summers and winters, plus school sports. It was a lot to cover for just one person, but Murray enjoyed his job, always came in on deadline.
Having to cover so much, day and night, seven days a week, required not only dedication, but the ability to write and photograph the sport at hand.”
Here are a few highlights from the early days, and from that championship year of 1968:
Aug. 20, 1964, Perth Courier: “Perth girls win consolation round in Kemptville Tourney: After 18 consecutive wins in league, playoff and exhibition games this season, the Perth gals finally dropped their first match of 1964 on Saturday.” The team had to go to the consolation round after that one defeat, but did not lose another game.
Oct. 1, 1964, Perth Courier: “Girls bounce back to tie EOSA finals with Mountain: “Before a capacity crowd of cheering fans, solidly behind the gals in their bid to stave off elimination, the Perth team rolled to a 5-3 victory …”
July 11, 1968, Perth Courier: “Girls Sweep Pair of Mid-Week Games: Perth girls swept a pair of mid-week games to increase their stature in the St. Lawrence Ladies’ Softball League … Perth 8, Kemptville 0: Ruth Cousans hurled her finest game … Perth 5, Metcalfe 4: … For Ruth Cousans, it was also her third win of the week. She gave up seven hits, walked two, and fanned two …”
Aug. 29, 1968, Perth Courier: “Perth Girls Whip Ottawa, Montreal, Stittsville to Win Russell Tournament: The Perth girls’ softball club … swept through all opposition at the annual Russell Invitational Softball tournament on Saturday to bring home top money and the Carling Trophy …”
Oct. 24, 1968, Perth Courier: From Murray Stone’s Sports Shots column “… Ruth Cousans made a class sweep of all awards for the 1968 season of the Perth Girls’ Softball club at ceremonies held recently. She captured the Ken Burns Trophy as the team’s Most Valuable Player by a unanimous vote, won the Brown Shoe Trophy for the Most RBI’s, and the Canadian Tire Trophy as the club Batting Champion. Ruth came on in ’68 to become Perth’s first-line pitcher … Her winning batting average was .626 …”
Ruth Cousans Greigson was modest about her softball accomplishments, only remarking that 1968 was “a great year of ball.” Neil Fennell, organizer of the Perth Invitational Fastball Tournament, which ran from 1990 through 2001, is convinced that “women’s softball in the 1960s set the stage for the sport’s entry in the Olympic Games in the 1990s.” We remember those ladies now, a credit to their community, who helped inspire others and bring the game to the level it has achieved.
Thanks to Stephen Bird, retired lawyer for Lanark Leeds & Grenville Legal Clinic, for the tip. If you have any comments or suggestions, please email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org