Sporting legend. Icon. Those are big words. How do you become one and what do you need to do to be described that way?
It usually starts with a high level of talent. But you also need to be a good person who is generally admired for your character. You need to be a good teammate. You need to persevere and stay involved for a long period of time. And you need to give back to the sporting world of your community in some way shape or form over the years as well. There's a good chance you may have heard about the recent passing of Bob Calder and Dave Addison. Both of these former baseball teammates easily fit into this category.
The Calder name is synonymous with sports in the Central Plains. Bob Calder was born in Portage la Prairie in 1950 and at a young age became involved with things like hockey, baseball, and football. He was a natural athlete and excelled at almost every sport he took on. Not only did he play several seasons with the Portage Terriers in the late 60s and early 70s, he also became known as one of the better baseball and fastball players in the region. In fact, he would meet his future wife while playing with Kinosota in the seventies - a team that was a powerhouse at the time. Following his playing days, Bob would spend many years coaching the two sports at the minor level in the community and he eventually ended up as an Assistant Coach with the Terriers for a good part of the nineties with Bob Miller and others.
Deputy Reeve of the RM of Portage Garth Asham was a friend and a teammate and looks back on Calder's abilities.
"I admired his tenacity and his love for the game. He had a special talent and he was fast. He could play different positions and excel at them all, just an all-around versatile baseball player who was very up on the game. Bob was always there organizing stuff for tournaments and was just good for the game. Everyone liked playing with him."
Ferdi Nelissen of Portage, who is in the Manitoba Softball Hall of Fame, also played with and against Calder.
"He challenged you to be your best whenever you played against or with him. He showed you how to play hard and with class, just like many of my teammates did"
Dave Addison has a similar story to Calder. He was also born in Portage, but in 1946. He also had a lifelong love for all sports but in this case, his passion was definitely the game of baseball. As a teammate of Calder's, he too would also meet his future wife while playing ball with Kinosota. As he grew older and was playing less and less while raising his family, Dave's love of baseball and fastball switched from player to umpire where he found much success. Not only could you find him in that role at some of the area's biggest and most intense events, he was also a fixture on the local diamonds bringing peace and order to rec leagues like the Portage Plains Slo-Pitch league. If you played baseball or fastball in the area over the past 30 years, there is a good chance Dave was behind the plate in some of those games. Baseball and hot dogs go hand in hand so it was no surprise after his retirement from MDC, he was a fixture on Saskatchewan Avenue with his hot dog cart, Addy’s Longdogs
Asham was also a teammate of Addison's and the two had a long friendship over the years.
"He always had a great sense of humor and he was a student of the game. I remember him as a left-handed batter and he could hit some long balls. A versatile player. He was good for the young folks too with his humor and easygoing demeanor. He was a very accomplished umpire and he had a lot of fun with that too. He was always reasonable and knew his stuff, a student of the game."
As friends, Asham says he will miss them both and adds the community is a better place because of people like them.
"I kind of talked about their skill. But Bob and Dave as people both had great character and they gave back to the community. They shared what they knew and had with others. I'm sure there are lots of younger folks out there that would endorse everything Bob and Dave did and said. Very good people with a strong community presence"
A celebration of life for Addison will be held this Sunday at 2:00 pm at The Herman Prior Center while a similar event celebrating Calder's life will be held on Saturday, January 21, 1:30 pm at the MNP Building on Island Park.