Victoria National Little League is the oldest Little League on Vancouver Island. Founded in 1953, “National” still plays out of the ball park at Cook and Hillside, now known as Jerry Hale Field, and is proud to provide the longest-running Little League Baseball program in Victoria.
Did you play in this park as a child and have memories you’d like to share? If so, please be in touch— we’d love to hear from you!
On November 10, 1952, the Victoria Junior Chamber of Commerce (often called “the Jaycees”) announced that Little League Baseball was coming to Victoria in the spring of 1953.
Plans to form the league were started by Ron Compston and Jim Nichol who led a committee formed by the Jaycees to gather facts and apply to Little League Baseball headquarters in Williamsport, Pennsylvania for a franchise. Only four teams were allowed, made up of 8-12 year old boys.
The next step for the new league was to work with the city to find a suitable site for a ball park. A plot of land was donated by the city near the corner of Cook and Hillside, and construction of Victoria’s first Little League ball park began.
On May 17, 1953, the first games, a double header, were played at the new “Victoria Jaycee Little League.” The ball park wasn’t even finished – there was no grass on the field! But that didn’t stop the 1,500 spectators from coming out to support the little leaguers. The four teams were sponsored by Victoria service clubs: Gyros, North Kiwanis, Oddfellows, and Rotary.
1953 is also the year that eventual Canadian Baseball of Fame inductee Doug Hudlin umpires his first game at the park.
In 1954, the “Victoria Jaycee Little League” was renamed as “Victoria National Little League” to accommodate an expansion by the Jaycees to form another four teams in a separate “American” Little League. Victoria now had two leagues just like the MLB and grass was finally on the field! Both leagues played out of the same ball park until the American Little League moved to their own ball park in Saanich.
Formerly known simply as “Little League Park” and then “National Little League Park”, the field at Cook and Hillside is renamed “Jerry Hale Field” in honour of Jerry Hale and his legacy.
Canada Baseball of Fame inductee Doug Hudlin umpires the last game of his career, the National Little League Majors final, and is honoured at the closing ceremonies.
50th Anniversary celebrations. Also, work begins on the new clubhouse.
Doug Hudlin is posthumously inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame.