HANTSPORT — After 14 years with the Hantsport Shamrocks, Deron Moores is hanging up his jersey for the last time.
“I played one game this year and that was it,” said Moores, who started playing with Hantsport in 2002. “Baseball has always been my favourite sport. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t love coming to the park to play.”
Moores had been living away from the area when he started his teaching career. When he returned, his friend Sean Bennett, the vice-principal at Horton High School, suggested he try out for the Shamrocks.
“They were the best intermediate team at the time and the coach gave me a chance to play. I always appreciated being given that chance,” Moores said.
Before starting with the Shamrocks, Moores had played with Kentville Minor Baseball.
Moores continued to live in Kentville but found himself as a honourary Hantsport resident after playing for the team for so long.
“The reputation that this team has drew me to it, I still believe it’s the best baseball organization in the province,” he said.
Moores played first base with the team and has no intention to stay on as a coach; instead, he wants to let the new players find their own way.
“I think the team is in a good space moving forward,” he said. “There’s been a good turnout of players in the last couple of years, young guys who deserve a chance to carry the torch. It’s a good time for me to step away and let the people who are keen to do that to let them have the opportunity.”
Plenty of support
Moores said he was always amazed by the support the team received from the community.
“We have a team of six or eight guys who form the Shamrock society, and they take care of the field, organize the canteen, they get the umpires, all we have to do is show up and play.”
At some games, hundreds of spectators show up at Shamrock Field to cheer on the players.
“Some of my best memories are from provincials, with people standing all along the backstop and going all the way down to the scoreboard, five or six rows deep,” he said.
“That might be what I miss the most, playing in front of that crowd. Even teams we played against would comment on how fun it was to play here because of that.”
The Shamrocks had a very successful track record, especially in the 2000s, winning five provincial championships between 2002 and 2008.
“We always had someone that we wanted to win for,” he said.
In 2008, that was Fred Martin, Sr., the father of the Hantsport coach, Fred Martin Jr. That year, says Moores, the senior Martin would attend every game, standing by the scoreboard.
“In 2008 he was not well, and he passed away six weeks after we won the provincial championship,” he said. “I remember the play, I caught the last ball, and we were celebrating and as a team, we ran over to Fred. He was in his chair, could hardly stand up, and everyone took a turn giving him a hug. That was the last game he ever saw and we still talk about that.”
Moores said he does miss being a part of the team.
“The park is my favourite place to come sometimes,” said Moore, who plans to keep fit by running marathons. “I miss the anticipation of coming down, being with the guys, it’s ben tough the last few weeks. I still get on the internet and see how they did.”
One thing he won't miss is the pop-ups.
“I’d always look at the second baseman and tell them it’s theirs,” he said.
Although his playing time is over, he's still dedicated to the team. Moores said he’d continue on as the Shamrocks biggest fan.
“Whether I’m here in person or not, I’m thinking about them,” he said.
The Hantsport Shamrocks are an institution in the town, with a legacy that goes back almost 100 years.
“When you look back at the history of the team, and what’s taken place at this field, there’s a very strong tradition of baseball in this town,” he said.
Moores is hopeful that a league for “more mature players” will pop up in the Annapolis Valley for players 35 and older.
“We’re seeing those type of teams popping up in Cape Breton, Truro, Yarmouth,” he said. “I don’t know of any of those Old-Timer Baseball teams in the Annapolis Valley.”
Now the principal at Somerset and District Elementary School, Moores has learned many lessons himself since being a part of the Shamrocks.
“I’ve learned humility, I’ve continued to grow when it comes to interacting with people, how to be humble, because we were winning everything for a while and that changed,” he said. “I’m always happy for the other team, even when they beat us. Sometimes it’s hard to take positives away from a loss, but it’s important to take that perspective.”
Moores said he wouldn’t have been able to do any of it without the support of his wife Susan, who gave birth to twins shortly after he started playing.
“She was really cool with me continuing to play,” he said. “She deserves a lot of credit for supporting me with this.”
But most of all, he's grateful for the experience.
“My life would have been so different if I hadn’t taken that leap to go to practice,” he said.
Did you know?
Deron Moores was part of the Hantsport Shamrocks team during several provincial championship wins. Including: 2002, 2003, 2005, 2006, and 2008.