Wayne Gullett was an outstanding player in his prime and he’s had success as a manager as well, with seven titles in nine years. (FILE PHOTO)
Wayne Gullett couldn’t imagine a better baseball career.
For 18 years, the Wawanesa native played in the Manitoba Senior Baseball League for the Riverside Canucks. After they folded in 1996, Gullett joined his hometown Wawanesa Brewers, first in the Border West League and now the SouthWest Baseball League, to close out his career. During his years as a player, Gullett was named playoff MVP when he helped Riverside win the 1982 MSBL crown. He was also a member of the MSBL all-star team that won a gold medal at the Western Canadian Championship and a bronze medal at nationals in 1985.
Still, Gullett never saw himself as an elite player. He still doesn’t, but he’s happy other people view his career as being good enough to be inducted into the Manitoba Baseball Hall of Fame in Morden on Saturday.
"I feel very honoured to be in an elite group of players who are already in there," said the 50-year-old Gullett, who’s currently managing the Brewers. "I can look back at all the great ballplayers I played with, like the Cliff Seafoot and Grant Everard. It’s just amazing to think that people think of me in that category, it’s quite an honour."
Although Gullett accomplished a lot in his long playing career — which extended into last season because of the occasional shortage of players — his favourite memories don’t go back to winning any championships or MVPs. Instead, it’s the rivalry that existed between Riverside and the Hamiota Red Sox.
"There was a no-love-lost attitude between us when we were playing," he said. "After the game was over, we were all friends, but it was a real competitive rivalry between the Hamiota Red Sox and Riverside Canucks. Those were the days I remembered the most and some of the tilts we had over the years. We cleared the benches a couple times a year easily.
"The other thing was, unless you were there in time for warm-up, you didn’t get a spot to park your car. It doesn’t matter whether it was in our park or Hamiota’s park or where it was. The following back then was so huge."
While Gullett tries not to play anymore, he’s found another passion in baseball: Coaching.
Shortly after joining Wawanesa, he was approached by Ron Seafoot about coaching the team with him. Since then Gullett has taken over as the team’s manager and he finds the job very rewarding, even though it’s very time consuming and makes his life as a farmer a little harder. Gullett finds the rewards worthwhile and plans on staying on for a while longer.
"I can see myself doing this for a couple more years probably," said Gullett, who has guided Wawanesa to seven league titles over nine years. "I feel baseball has been good to me and I owe baseball some of my own time to give back to others and help the young guys get going. … It’s rewarding when they’re at the plate and you tell them to change their stance and they get a base hit. It’s rewarding to be able to help kids out."
Gullett is being inducted this weekend along with Brandon’s Alex Campbell, Binscarth’s Bob Paradine, Dauphin’s John Lesychen as well as the 1986-90 Hamiota Red Sox and 1964-69 Rivers Comets. The Mutcheson family, which includes current Brandon Cloverleaf pitcher Matt Mutcheson, is also being inducted.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition June 1, 2012