By ALAN SHACKLETON
At the age of 94, Peter Cripps is still a fixture at the ball diamond at Dieppe Park in East York.
For more than 40 years he has played a key role as a supporter of women’s fastball in the community.
On the night of Tuesday, Sept. 12, he was in his regular spot by the fence watching an East Toronto Women’s Fastpitch Association (ETWFA) playoff game.
“One of the girls I knew, and my cousin, were playing and that’s when I started watching,” Cripps told Beach Metro Community News of how his long-standing association with the league began.
Back then it was called the East York Ladies Softball Association, and Cripps would eventually serve for a time as the association’s president. From 1988 to 2022, he was also the announcer in the booth at Dieppe Park for the games, missing only a couple of them over that almost 35-year time span.
“I just retired,” he said of his decision to no longer serve as field announcer at the games.
Along with introducing the players and letting fans know who was coming up to bat, one of Cripps’s responsibilities in the earlier days was to call the sports sections of the daily newspapers with the scores of the games after they were finished.
“It was important and the scores would run in the papers the next day,” he said.
While the crowd at last Tuesday’s game was relatively sparse, they all knew Cripps and chatted and said hello to him.
Cripps said back in the earlier days of the East York league, the ballpark would be full of fans for the women’s games on Tuesday and Thursday nights. “There were lots of teams and lots of fans,” he remembered.
The same held true for the men’s fastball games that would be played on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at the park. “It was very popular and there were some very good players among the ladies and the men,” said Cripps.
“I was the announcer up in the booth and there would be good crowds out. Some nights the place was just packed,” he remembered.
Looking far younger than his age, Cripps has lived not too far from Dieppe Park for the past 29 years and often walks over to watch the games.
On the night he met with Beach Metro, though, he had taken the bus since there was a possibility of rain later that night.
“I go to the gym four days a week. I’ve been doing so for 40 years. That helps keep me in good shape,” he said.
An East Ender through and through, Cripps grew up in the Jones and Danforth avenues area and attended Earl Grey Public School. He didn’t go to high school afterwards but later took a correspondence course to earn his diploma.
“I got 49 As and one B-plus over the five years of the course. The B-plus was on the last course. I can’t complain about that. It was pretty darn good,” he said of the high school courses he took by correspondence.
Cripps worked for years at a local paint company before he retired.
Along with his involvement with women’s softball, Cripps also enjoys watching other sports including hockey and football.
“I cut out the TV at my apartment, but I will sometimes go to a restaurant or bar to watch sports, especially hockey and football,” he said. “I always watch the Super Bowl and the Grey Cup.”
Sports and recreation has always been a big part of life for Cripps in the East Toronto community.
Along with the fastball, he would also take part in five-pin bowling and play pool along the Danforth.
“Years ago on the Danforth there was a big pool hall and I would go there every once in a while to pick up some money,” he said.
Local sports fans are invited to say hello to Cripps at tonight’s (Tuesday, Sept. 19 at 8 p.m.) ETWFA playoff championship game at Dieppe Park on Cosburn Avenue. He’ll be there cheering on The Cannons and the Mavericks as they compete for the title. Currently the ETWFA has five teams and 70 players.