Wally bids baseball club farewell

Wally Desaunois in his Dolphins shirt with his trophy and lifetime membership certificate.

Co-founder of the Fish Hoek Dolphins Baseball Club(FHDBC),Wally Desaunois, 73, is bidding the club farewell.

He helped to establish the club with Garth Littlewood and Karen Geffroy in 1989, and together the trio created something unique to the valley.

Their aim was to involve the youth in a non-mainstream sport that involved parents and the community.

The club was named after Cedryl Greenland, an author and former owner of what was then called the Fish Hoek Echo. Ms Greenland’s pseudonym was Dolphin.

“My vision for the club was to provide a fully functional facility, with involvement from parents, coaches and committed players across all age groups,” Mr Desaunois said.

He started playing baseball at the age of nine and later played major league in Johannesburg and for Varsity Old Boys (VOB).

His wife, Kathy Desaunois, said his passion had always been baseball, and the club was a dream come true for him.

After Mr Littlewood relocated to Johannesburg, Mr Desaunois fulfilled many roles, including chairman, coach, player and umpire and is still an active member of the Sports Association.

Mr Desaunois said that over the past few years the club had had many players in national trials and had represented Western Province.

Two former club members, who had started out as juniors, had played for South Africa, and it was achievements like that which had made it all worthwhile, he said.

“It was due to the dedication and hard work of the players and many great coaches in the past,” he said.

Ms Desaunois said her husband was well known in the valley and often when walking in the mall or on the beach, someone would greet him by saying: “Hi, Mr Coach”.

Mr Desaunois is a proud New York Yankee supporter and is very passionate about his sport, and taking the decision to no longer be actively involved in the club was a difficult one.

“I’ve been involved with the club for so many years. It’s become my life and I’m
definitely going to miss it,” he said.

Ms Geffroy, who was also a coach, said that before the club was started, a few parents of boys playing soccer for Fish Hoek Soccer Club had decided to get together to find a summer sport to keep the boys together in the off-season, and one of the fathers had suggested baseball, which his son had played in Johannesburg.

Knowing nothing about the sport, she said, they had been hesitant at first but the boys had been keen so they had opted to give it a go.

“Mr Desaunois heard about our plans and joined us as he too had been a player in Johannesburg for many years.

“He had a wealth of knowledge and expertise to share with us novices, and so the club was formed and affiliated to the Western Province Junior Baseball Association, so that we could start playing league matches,” Ms Geffroy said.

They started with a couple of teams, but eventually fielded sides in all age groups from under-10 to under-16.

“Once we were joined by seasoned players and coaches from Ocean View, we were able to field under-19s and a senior side,” she said.

“For many years Wally Desaunois has been the club chairman, always ready to pass on his knowledge, umpire games, organise the clubhouse and whatever else may have been needed for the successful running of the club,” she said.

Mr Desaunois said he wanted to thank everyone in the valley who had made his dream come true over the years. He wished the committee, members, players and supporters all the best for the future.