Almanac Baseball: ‘Legends of South Australian Baseball Book 5 – Neil Philip Page aka ‘Supee’’

 

‘SOUTHPAW’ NEIL PHILIP PAGE

 

For as long as I live, I shall never forget a certain balmy Wednesday night at the Norwood Oval in March 1972. That night, the ’71 / ’72 Baseball Grand Final, has gone down in baseball annals as one of the greatest ever witnessed. Port Adelaide Magpies, the pace setter for the whole series, was being challenged by my team, the Goodwood Indians. What a match it was, lasting an unbelievable action packed 19 innings. Sitting in my favourite spot in the grandstand, I and 4,999 other fans, remained enthralled as the events unfolded in that three and a half hour marathon.

 

Amazingly as it seems, Indians southpaw pitcher Neil Page gave of his best (21 K2’s, 1 walk and 9 hits) over the whole 19 innings. What an effort! In my mind’s eye I can still see him, sweat saturating his shirt, sending down strike after strike. In a game studded with brilliance from both sides, it was Port, who used 2 pitchers? Durbidge and Mundy, that finally prevailed on a last pitch home run from its coach, Kevin Greatrex. Be that as it may, everyone I have listened to say the same thing? the star of the match was Indians’ outstanding pitcher Neil Page. After the match I was mentally drained – imagine how Pagey must have felt.

 

Anyway, when I first discovered Night Baseball as a teenager in the fifties, we here in South Australia were extremely fortunate to have the services of many top notch pitchers. Fellows such as Jimmy Cocks, Freddy Medley, John Langley and Max Puckett readily spring to mind (all legends of the game). However, in my humble opinion, there was none better than Goodwood Indians’ crack southpaw Peter Box. All of them could bat too. Anyway, when Box accepted a career opportunity at Woomera in 1959, that saw the end of his A grade action and so the baseball public was starved of watching this superb player perform. I, for one, thought I would never see another like him.

 

But then, along came the sixties, and, believe it or not, with them came, not one but two, incredibly talented southpaws, namely Don Rice and Neil Page. Whilst Rice was to become a Legend (winning 5 Capps Medals), it was Page that captured my imagination. Although beginning at Glenelg (not Goodwood) I closely followed his Night Baseball career, marvelling at his deeds and wishing he was an Indian, little realising that one day he would. Anyway sometime in the near future, I hope to bring you Rice’s story, but for now my spotlight is shining steadily on Neil Page.

 

Let’s pause for a moment. Just for interest’s sake I thought you might like to know how the term southpaw for a left?handed pitcher came into being. Over in America in the 1880’s, baseball diamonds were arranged so batters would face to the east. This was so that the afternoon or evening sun was not in their eyes. As such, a left?handed pitchers hand (paw) would then be on the south side hence the term southpaw – back to our story.

 

Neil Page, the second son of baseball enthusiast and lighting expert Roy Page, recognised as the father of Night baseball (see my book Batter Up), began playing our great game at an early age.

 

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Young Neil

 

For purchasing details email Gordon Penhall   [email protected] or phone 08 83862696 .

 

 

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Comments

  1. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Nice work Fisho. 71/72 was my first season of baseball and spent lots of summer Wednesday nights at the Parade in the 70s and early 80s.

    There was no such thing as pitch counts back then, that’s for sure.

  2. Or icing down the arm after coming off the mound, Swish. By the way, Supee was delighted with the book and sent a couple of copies to friends in the States.Further on in the book is a detailed account of that historic game. Thank you for your kind words Swish.

  3. I was still living in Kadina in 71/72 but certainly saw a lot of baseball at the Parade in the mid 70’s. The old stands are close to the ground so you got a good view. Remember Kingsley Wellington coaching my Eagles. I think Max Puckett was still pitching for us.
    Page, Greatrex, Mundy & Phil Alexander stick in the memory. Big men with big personalities.
    My love of the game was cemented with the Dodgers in LA in 1988. In many ways a superior game to what cricket has become.
    Thanks for reviving great memories of fierce contests on hot nights under lights.

  4. Kerri Medley says

    Gary I got a copy of this book from Gordon the night before Neil came and visited dad with me a couple of years back when Neil was back in Australia. Neil went through the book with him and it prompted so many memories for dad as did Uncle Fred’s book I got from Gordon aswell. We also took in the night baseball book which mentions dad abit. Was so good to see his memory come through and the smiles he had reminiscing with Neil, Great work my friend, love your work as it also brings back so many memories for me growing up in my West Torrens baseball family aswell as all the families of the Claxton shield players dad played with with his 11 years of state selection. Dads lasts memories are of baseball and your books have certainly helped him with that ?

  5. I’m Gary’s computer expert and I’ve emailed by popular demand many copies of this book and the feedback received is really encouraging. Supee himself was very please with the end result.

  6. Not another Karen says

    Gary’s (Fisho) Baseball books are written from a fans point of view spiced with a little humour and current events from that time. He has received great feedback from them, especially Supee Page’s Tribute.

  7. Peter, of my other books, Kevin Greatrex features in Book 6, which is rather long as his career was also rather long and Book 10 features Phil Alexander, which likewise is rather long to do him justice. Of course Mundy features in both of these books and also in Book 4 about Adrian “Daisy” Pearce.

  8. Peter Kemp says

    This and Gary Bennett’s other books on the greats of South Australian and Australian baseball are highly recommended reading. I too remember the great game between the Indians and the Magpies which finished at 1 am.
    .Neil Page had success against Japan as a pitcher and batter.

  9. David Hatchman says

    The book is a great read, it helps that Neil is certainly one of the best pitchers that Australia has produced.

  10. Gary. I GUESS WE WERE LUCKY THAT MY MUM STARTED OFF MY SCRAPBOOK WHEN I FIRST STARTED AND I JUST CONTINUED IT. AS YOU KNOW 4 BOOKS LATER I HANDED THEM TO YOU AND WHAT YOU DID FOR MY BOOK WAS STAGGERING TO SAY THE LEAST..
    THANK YOU FOR PUTTING IN ALL THAT WORK ON WRITING IT AND I AM STILL ASTOUNDED AND PROUD BY THE TIME AND EFFORT YOU PUT IN . LIKEWISE I HAVE READ OTHER BOOKS OF GREAT PLAYERS FROM THE “OLDEN DAYS” AND ALSO MORE CURRENT GREATS. I AM SURE THEY ARE JUST AS PROUD OF TGEIRS. ALL INTERESTING READS CHEERS NEIL ( SUPEE) PAGE

  11. Michelle Buller says

    Love reading anything about dads (les Buller) days of baseball. Neil and dad spent a lot of time together over their baseball career, I still read all of dads scrapings of his days. So many wonderful memories of being at West Torrens Baseball Club and growing up in that environment. We were the lucky ones.

  12. Nic Kuring says

    Nic Kuring says
    5.58 pm Dec 06 20
    Have enjoyed reading the many Legends” so well written & generously supplied by Gary.
    Many great memories of having played with & against Neil at club, state & national level….he will always be remembered as a great champion & sportsman…& a top bloke ‘n’ all. I too watched in wonder at that great final between Magpies & Indians…a credit to all who participated.
    Congrats again Gary…

  13. Hi Michelle, thank you for your kind comments. If you would like to read the book, send me your email address and I’ll email it on to you.

  14. Fisho sincere apologies re being so slow replying that gf is certainly a massive part of baseball folklore.
    Wednesday nights at Norwood oval were a institution at one stage the whole of Kensington’s stating nine were all ex Norwood high there were certainly some huge nights over at the Redlegs club depending on the time slot the Cardinals played – love you’re immense passion for baseball wish it was still at the parade

  15. Malcolm, I sent Swish an extract from Supee Pages tribute examining that classic GF in detail. I have also examined it in detail from Greatrex’ point of view in his book. If you would like to read one or both, I’ll email your choice / s to you.

  16. Gary, I’d appreciate any/all of the baseball writings you have. It’s been a long time since I was in the game and would love to read bout some of the great times and personalities of baseball. Thanks, Bob

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