Sports of Sandwich South
The Maidstone Shamrocks were one of the premier teams in the Essex County Baseball League. This team began play in the early 1930’s and their home diamond was behind St. Mary’s Church in Maidstone. The team was named in recognition of the strong Irish roots in the Maidstone Community. Over the years the Shamrocks won many local and provincial titles including an OBA Championship in 1944. The field was always kept in pristine condition by the locals with manicured and frequently mowed lush green grass. If a player hit a ball over the short fence in right field it was a ground rule double. The fence is still there and there are many a story of ball going over the old flag pole in center field that can still be seen today. The club played it’s last game in the mid 70’s. In 1980’s the St. Mary’s Park Recreational league began on the same diamond that continues to this day.
More info on the Shamrocks can be found in our online archive.
Weston Park as we know it today was built on land purchased from Jim Weston by Sandwich South township. Hardball was played by boys and young men through the through the 1960’s.
Most people remember it for the softball leagues starting around 1974 and lasting about 30 years. Thousands of people from the area called Weston park their home for at least one day a week. At one point, the ball fields were full with leagues for all age groups almost every day of the week. Entire families participated making it truly the social hub of the community.
Checker Flag Raceway
Checker Flag Raceway opened as a 1/4 mile dirt track in 1961. It was expanded to 1/3 mile in 1968 and banked truns were added. The track was paved under new ownership in 1974 and the grandstand was expanded. Different divisions continued racing thru to 1994 when the track was permanently closed.
Several artifacts and pieces of memorabilia from Checker Flag are on display at our heritage centre. This includes a driver helmet and racing suit and several photos and trophies. The Canadian Transportation Museun on Arner townline has additional Checker Flag memorabilia.
Windsor Dragway was a 1/4 mile drag strip opened on August 25, 1968 with a ceremony attended by then N.H.R.A. President Wally Parks and 4,000 fans. The facility cost 400 thousand dollars to build and was very “state of the art” for the time. It was owned by Mike & Bryan Wheatley.
It closed in October 1971 and to this day the pavement still sits there in a farmer’s field. Many of the buildings including the concession stand, the washrooms and the score tower remain. Over time these buildings have collapsed however.
St. Mary's Park
In 1980 a group of volunteers in the Maidstone area approached the Sandwich South Township to form a partnership with the Township to start a softball league for all ages. For years the site behind St. Mary’s Church on County Rd. #34 (Talbot Rd./Old Hwy #3) was famous as a pristine ball diamond played on by the Maidstone Shamrocks until the mid-seventies. Similar to McAuliffe Park and Weston Park, St. Mary’s Park would offer a recreational program for residents in the surrounding areas. After securing a lease with the Diocese of London, the first St. Mary’s Park Committee began with the conversion of the site for softball. A group called the “Maidstone Athletic Club” began a major fundraising campaign that was successful in securing provincial funding to add floodlights and new fencing. An agreement with the Catholic School Board opened up two more diamonds behind the school.40 years later this program is still run by local volunteers with valued assistance from the Town of Tecumseh. Over 600 players enjoy playing ball ‘at the corner’ from ages 3-63+. The Irish roots of this site continues with the St. Mary’s Park logo being represented by a Shamrock, green bleachers and buildings and a new splash pad in the shape of the Shamrock.
For current information on the St. Mary’s Park league, visit their website at www.stmaryspark.ca
Golf - Silver Tee
The Silver Tee Golf Centre opened in 1975 on #3 Highway between Walker road and Howard Avenue. The driving range and miniature gold were an instant hit drawing people from the city and county.
A virtual gaming centre was added with golf simulators which allows for indoor golf leagues.
These are some of the other sports / teams that were around in Sandwich South
Mike Patterson was the Principal of Charles Collins public school and wanted to encourage sports in SS schools. He started a girls hockey league amongst the three senior schools; FairPlay, Percy McKee and Charles Collins. All games were played at the Essex Arena. Collins won the championship so Mike had these crests made for the girls.