In 1957 Canberran's saw the first games of Baseball played under the auspices of the newly established ACT Baseball Association (ACTBA). In its first year ten clubs participated.
At the ACTBA first Annual General Meeting it was noted that, amongst others, a team named the Rebels had registered its intention to participate in the 1958 competition. The Club which was formed under the name Rebels, has had a continuous presence in the ACTBA competition and celebrated the 50th Anniversary in 2008 under that name.
History shows that David Vickers was the driving force in the establishment of the ACTBA. He was a member of the inaugural Canberra Club All Stars until its demise in 1965.
In 2007 David was inducted into the ACT Sports Hall of Fame at a ceremony attended by a group representing the Rebels Baseball Club. David Vickers was the first Baseballer to be inducted into the ACT Sports Hall of Fame.
The Birth of the Rebels Baseball Club
The thought of entering a team in the 1958 Baseball competition was conceived over a beer or three by a few mates in a saloon bar. It prompted John Mahoney (Slim) to arrange a meeting with a group of friends at the then Hockey Club Pavilion located at Flinders Way Griffith (where the Manuka Plaza now stands), in order to organise a team.
Now, where did that name Rebels come from? Well, contrary to people's thoughts, it had nothing to do with baseball or motorcycles. Stuart Green recalled that the name Rebels came from the Canberra High School (CHS) connection with Basketball, and went back to 1954 when Canberra High got a new sports master, Max Landy, (cousin of the great Olympian John Landy). Max was fanatical about basketball and he wanted the school to enter a team in the local competition. The school principal would not permit it. Max suggested we go to the AGM of the ACT Basketball and enter a team outside the framework of the school. So, this was done. Max Landy had a similar experience elsewhere (Broken Hill), and they had used the name Rebels as that is what they were. So, we entered Rebels in the local competition, (that is basketball), in 1954. Mahoney, Robertson and Green were in that team.
When the basketball started, the CHS connection was recalled, we liked the name Rebels so we entered that name in the 1958 ACTBA competition.
In his reflections on the beginnings of the Rebels Baseball Club, inaugural team member Frank Searson recollects that he had played a little softball in a public service competition. He recalls that John Mahoney (Slim) was having a couple of beers with a few blokes who had played one season of baseball. They were all exited about the game and it sounded like something that Slim would want to be involved in. He expressed a desire to join in the fun, only to be told that if he was so keen he had better get a team together " that night". He invented a team and nominated it under the name Rebels. He then had to round up nine or ten blokes to play, and he went to a few of the ex-students from the former CHS.
Some members of that team included Slim (18 games played for the Rebels), Stuart Green (145 games played for the Rebels), Gordon Rumph (53 games played for the Rebels), Dave Dundas (16 games played for the Rebels), Geoff Robertson (16 games played for the Rebels), Dennis Brophy (92 games played for the Rebels), Frank Searson (202 games played for the Rebels) and Ken Searson (32 games played for the Rebels).
Frank recalled the team included were Ainslie, All Stars, Colts, Vultures, Rebels and later the Brickbats, Harman, University and so on. Rebels had no home ground and played where the game was scheduled - Northbourne, Ainslie, Majura and later Harman.
"Training" was mostly at Telopea Park School grounds, then later at the open space in front of the Administration Building at Parkes. Following training players attended a bonding session, generally at the Hotel Canberra. There was always an after game friendly at the nearest club, if a club was not conveniently placed, at someone's house.
The team copped some awful beatings for the first few years. It was not until the services of Barry Strang (138 games played for the Rebels), Bill Deweese (80 games played for the Rebels) and Al Holyland (156 games played for the Rebels) were enlisted, plus a few Marines from the US Embassy, that the team started to assert some dominance in the game. Frank recalled winning a few Premierships on the trot. There were some huge end of season parties when all the profit from the season was expended, but he could not recall much about them...
The Beginning of the Rebels Juniors
1969 was a year of beginnings. Mark Stowers was elected Club President, a position he was to hold for the next 11 years, and under the coaching of some Rebels players, the Woden Junior Baseball Club entered 5 teams in the newly established junior competition. The under 9's T-Ball team was recruited from the Pearce Primary School, thanks to a suggestion by opposition coach Ron Burnes. It was ironic that this team went on to defeat Barnes' team in the Grand Final game.
1969 also saw the introduction of Night Baseball in the A.C.T. The Night Baseball Competition was based on a suburban zone concept. The Rebels were entered as the Woden Zone under coach Laurie Lawrence. Pitcher Bob Craven steered the Woden side to a convincing win in this inaugural Night Series. Mark Stowers hit the first Home Run of the Series, with the second by Bob Craven.
The names and colours of the Rebels Baseball Club
On the 25th August 1970 the Rebels Baseball Club and the Woden Junior Baseball Club amalgamated to form the Woden Rebels Baseball Club. The junior side of the club began an expansion program and entered 15 teams in the 1970-71 junior competition.
In 1987 the club became affiliated with our current major sponsor The Canberra Southern Cross Club, this resulted in the Woden Rebels Baseball Club becoming the Southern Cross Woden Baseball Club. In 2007 the club's financial members voted on the club name, as a result of that vote the club became known as the Rebels Baseball Club – the clubs original name.
In 1974 the Club colours changed to maroon and white from the original pillbox red with white piping. The maroon and white are still the club colours today, with the introduction of Navy Blue in 2007 to the Club colours.
From 1958 through to today, the Rebels Baseball Club has only ever retired 1 number. In 1989 Ken McInnis retired from 1st Grade Baseball after a 15 year career, Ken McInnis was honoured by the Rebels Baseball Club that year by having his number 11 offically retired.
The Beginning of Rebels Women's Baseball
The inaugural ACT Women's Baseball Competition begin in 2006. The Rebels Baseball Club decided that there was enough interest within the club to enter a team, the Rebelettes. The change was first noticed when Coach Jensen was heard to comment that pre-season training used to be a male only domain and what the hell were all these women doing around North Curtin 8 weeks before the season. It was then that Julie Chynoweth (the President of the day) approached Coach Jensen to tell that his new Women's team was here and ready to start.
The first game of the season on the 14th October 2006 was an eye opener but the Rebelettes prevailed 9 - 7 against the Bandits - an excellent start for the first game of Women's Senior Baseball in the ACT, and negotiating for the Club the first Women's Senior Baseball win in the ACT.
The Name of the Women's Baseball Team
The Rebels Women's Baseball team was called the Rebelettes from 2006/07 to 2008/09 season, from the 2009/10 season the team became the Rebels as they are known today.
Chief Minister's Canberra Gold Award - for over 50 years service to the local Community
On 8 April 2011, the Rebels Baseball Club was presented with the Chief Minister's Canberra Gold Award by local Minister Joy Burch, a Minister within the ACT Government. The Canberra Gold Award was Awarded for the Club's involvement with the local community for over 50 years.
The Award is inscribed with:
"Presented to the Rebels Baseball Club in recognition of a sustained contribution to the Australian Capital Territory for 50 years".