Brothers Mike, left, and Chris Craig will play at the Canadian senior men’s fast pitch championship starting Tuesday with the host Charlottetown John Brown Grille Fawcetts.
©Guardian Photo By Jason Malloy
Chris Craig doesn’t have far to look for help when he’s going through a rough spell on the diamond.
The Charlottetown John Brown Grille Fawcetts’ pitcher/third baseman shares a dugout with his older brother Mike. They often notice a slight change to help their sibling others might not see. It comes from years of playing ball together.
“If I am slumping, other guys may not want to talk to you about it. Mike can come talk to me, and vice-versa,” Chris said. “We’ve both busted each other out of slumps that way.”
The love for the game was fostered during hours spent in the backyard of their Lady Fane home playing with a tennis ball.
“We took an engine bonnet off a car and drew a strike zone,” Chris explained. “I’d pitch against him, he pitched against me and we had our yard separated into singles, doubles, triples and home runs.”
The boys grew up on the family farm and elected to play ball in their spare time.
“You definitely can’t teach the love that we got for the game at an earlier age,” Chris said. “Whatever else was going on, we could always go to the backyard and play ball.”
Mike said he wouldn’t have played had his older brother Thane had not been involved in the sport. And Chris credits his desire to pitch to watching Thane chuck. Their sister Sandy also played and coaches the Englewood high school team.
Chris didn’t play organized baseball until he was about nine years old at Kenny MacDougall’s fields. He switched to softball a few years later and ended up making the Island team for the 1997 Canada Games.
Mike started playing when he was 15 and played mostly third base before taking time off.
In 2008, he joined the Fawcetts and went to the nationals. When the starting catcher needed a break and the backup was injured, coach Doug Hines asked Mike if he had any interest in going behind the plate to catch a game for Ward Goose and Mitch Hardy. Being a good team player, he obliged and that is where he now spends most of his time on the field.
“It’s a great position because you’re always learning and you’re always in the game,” Mike said.
Starting Tuesday, the brothers will play at the senior men’s nationals in Charlottetown. Both were with the team in 2010 when the team finished second. They didn’t think they would get the chance to play for a Canadian title at home in front of family and friends again.
“There are not many brothers out there that play fast pitch who can say they have been able to play at home for two nationals,” said Chris, who made the all-star team four years ago while hitting .400. “It’s exciting. Our mother absolutely loves it and our sister, they don’t miss a game.”