Over the years a permanent club base has been of great importance to a variety of sporting and non-sporting organisations. Ones that readily come to mind include Victoria Park, Kardinia Park, the Western Oval, and the world famous Melbourne Cricket Ground. The importance of having permanent club rooms should not be underestimated as such a 'base' provides a meeting place for players, a venue for committee and social activities, and of course the site for the home/away competition.
The history and development of Frankston Baseball Club's present club rooms is particularly interesting. Not surprisingly, players of the mid 1940's would regard present day facilities as extravagant when compared to what was available in their playing days. Players were required to change in a dark and dingy room under the grandstand that had no lighting, one tap, and of course no shower facilities.
CRANBOURNE ROAD RESERVE - EARLY DAYSAround the late 20's early 30's the ground was used as a racetrack for midget cars - a sport which was popular at the time. As a race-track it could not have rivalled the proposed Albert Park Grand Prix, but was not, presumably, the subject of such controversy as surrounds the GP circuit.
At that stage the oval was surrounded by a low (two plank high) fence which was a precursor of the modern day car race circuit's crash barriers. Whatever the success or otherwise of the car racing enterprise, it did not continue far into the 30's. At the time of the opening of the High School in Quality Street, the ground was used as a sports field for the school. Interschool cricket matches were played there and the girls played hockey at the northern end of the ground. This area was later used by the Frankston Soccer Club.
Around 1939 the concrete cricket wicket was removed and the Council replaced it with two turf wickets. A third turf wicket was subsequently laid between the original two, the work being carried out largely by the voluntary efforts of Eric Johnston and another well known sporting identity - Bill Prendergast. Eric Johnston was the same Eric Johnston who was largely responsible for the founding of the Frankston Baseball Club.
In 1934 a Scout Jamboree was held in Frankston. For this Jambouree, several timber grandstands were built at the Jamboree site which was in the area approximately bounded by Yuille Street in the east, Baden Powell Drive in the west, Woodlands Grove in the north and Humphries Road to the south. When the Jamboree was finished, these stands were relocated at various sporting sites within the Shire. One of them was relocated at the then Cranbourne Road Reserve. This stand performed a useful purpose for some years but was unfortunately burnt down around 1948.
The present club rooms were built early in the war years and were used as a Drill Hall for the Army and the Volunteer Defence Corps. It also provided some sort of gymnasium for the High School. Part of it was taken over by the Baseball Club and the Cricket Club after the fire which destroyed the grandstand. At one stage it was proposed to demolish the building but the Council was prevailed upon to retract their decision and the start of renovating the buildings was made using voluntary labour from the two clubs. Further renovations were carried out over the years and the rear end of the building was taken over by the Baseball Club when the former tenant - the Junior Library - was relocated.
The Frankston Cricket Club vacated the ground in 1971 and was replaced by the YCW Cricket Club, which still shares the ground and buildings with the Baseball Club. The ground at present is little changed since 1950. The corrugated iron fence which once fenced the Cranbourne Road and Olive Grove frontages has been removed as has the fence around the oval itself, which had provided the crash barrier for the midget cars, but the rest remains substantially unaltered.
In the early days of the war the Army established a Physical Training Camp at the site of the old CEBS Camp in Overton Road. Top sportsman from all over Australia were stationed at this camp, the most famous of which was Donald George Bradman. Other Test cricketers were L.O'B 'Chuck' Fleetwood-Smith, a highly gifted spin bowler for Victoria and Australia in the 1930's, Barry Scott, a Victorian fast bowler, and Len Darling, a Victorian and Australian batsman who also played in the same era. The camp arranged matches with local teams and at least one inter-service match was played on the oval.
Bradman played in most of the games. On one occasion they played a match against the High School and one of the students is unlikely to forget the line in the score book which read:
Bradman D.G caught Allen bowled Sheeran - 87
Tim Gloury and John O'Brien were members of the High School team.
Around 1970 the ground which hither too was known as the Cranbourne Road Reserve or 'Cranny Club', was renamed the 'Samuel Sherlock Reserve' in honour of the former Shire President.
THE PURPLE PAINT CAPER
The interior of the present club rooms has undergone innumerable structural and other changes. One of those 'other' changes took place in the late 1960's.
At that time the hippie movement was in vogue and such a movement featured brightly colored posters with strange designs. Long hair was definitely in! A few of the players thought it would be a good idea to do some 'interior decorating' and the club rooms duly suffered! Brian Jack provided a large quantity of psychedelic purple paint and it would not take too much imagination to visualise what the rooms looked like when the lads had finished their artistic endeavours. In short, they were something else! Somehow the remaining club members accepted such vivid decor until about 1973 when re-painting with a somewhat neutral color took place.
THE ROOF-PLUGGING CAPER
As would be expected, additional 'interior designing' of the club rooms was not completely overlooked, thanks to the enterprising efforts of certain members. One particular problem that needed to be solved was that of the roof - it leaked like a sieve!
Our illustrious present-day 'Chief Executive', Mark O'Brien, had somehow acquired several cans of malthoid, a substance that is used in surfacing cricket pitches and other outside surfaces. Mark, and two enthusiastic helpers in Peter Gloury and Peter Richards, proceeded to apply this black, yucky substance to the INSIDE of the roofed area. Originally it was thought that two or three nights work would see the job completed. Not so as it turned out. Six weeks later the malthoid had been applied to every visible (and some invisible) part of the roof. Apart from Peter Richards falling off some supporting planks and having a can of malthoid cover most of him, no real problems were encountered by this trio's efforts to protect their fellow members from the elements.
Alas, our 'three artists' work did not survive for too long as the Council thought 'enough is enough' and completely re-roofed the building.
ANYONE FOR SOME CREOSOTE?
In order to improve the overall appearance of the floor in the pre-carpet days, Gary Jones, a friend of Ian Sigmont, generously provided 40 gallons of creosote - a dark, oily liquid which is obtained by distilling tar and used for preserving wood. Some of the lads - Mark O'Brien was naturally one of them - added a few glugs of sump oil and a few packets of red ochre from the local McEwan's store. After the floor was swept and rough-sanded, the creosote was applied with old sheets and blankets. Unfortunately in time the red ochre faded, but the floor was thoroughly 'preserved', in more ways than one. No self-respected termite would come within a ten-mile radius of the place as the creosote had penetrated not only the floor boards but many other unseen places!
LINOLEUM AT LAST!
Linoleum had a very short stay at the Club - one season! Six rolls of very inferior quality linoleum (that did actually fall off the back of a truck in Mordiallic) was laid in the the late 60's or 70's. Due to the fact that it was not cleat or sprig-proof, its life at the Club was a very short one.
THE FIRST CARPET
The first carpet that was laid in the club rooms was generously provided by Mick O'Shea's brother. It did not 'fall off a truck' but came from a home that was being renovated.
Trevor Lowe, Mick O'Shea and Mark O'Brien, loaded the carpet into Trevor's station-wagon, transported it to the club rooms where it was duly laid. Unfortunately, a major problem arose on windy nights - the carpet would regularly 'rise up' as a result of wind action underneath the flooring boards!
THE SECOND ATTEMPT
The second attempt at carpeting the rooms was highly successful mainly because it was laid in accordance with current procedures. After the Council had re-stumped the main area, the carpet - a yellow, red and orange high shagpile variety (courtesy of the CBA Bank in Frankston) - finally came to rest. On windy nights it would stay put - a great improvement on its predecessor! (For those interested in seeing probably the last sample of this illustrious floor covering, we believe that Geoff Saleeba still has a piece in his Land Cruiser.)
THE SALAMANDER BURNER
The 'Salamander Burner' was a portable oil-fired pot-bellied stove that resided in the Club Rooms in the early 1970's. Unfortunately, this impressive-looking piece of heating apparatus did have one major problem - when it really 'fired up' those present inside had to open both doors or go outside to escape the intense heat it generated. Needless to say, the Salamander Burner did not have too long a career at Cranbourne Road.
HOT WATER AT LAST
In 1960 a shower facility was installed in the now front store room, courtesy of Geoff Saleeba who provided the labour, and the Frankston and Hastings Shire who provided a one pound loan ($2.00) for the club to obtain the necessary materials.
Other renovations included relining of the walls, carpeting, painting, improved lighting and seating facilities. External cladding was carried out in 1981. The entire club rooms were re-carpeted in 1995 as a result of the generous efforts of the Jones Family.