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Hammers hit the ultimate home run

A long-time local sports organization has reached the ultimate milestone in the sport of slo-pitch - equivalent to a grand slam home run, a no-hitter, the perfect game.

A long-time local sports organization has reached the ultimate milestone in the sport of slo-pitch - equivalent to a grand slam home run, a no-hitter, the perfect game.

The Hammers, founded by Kathie and Graham Smillie in 1991, were recently inducted into the British Columbia Slo-pitch National (SPN) Hall of Honour in recognition of their many years of participation in the sport.

"I believe it's in recognition for the amount of involvement and support to slo-pitch and the SPN over the years," said Kathie Smillie. "they told us that out team and our team name has entered more tournaments than any other team over the years."

The Hammers are not just one team, however. They are made up of many different players in several different divisions. There are co-ed teams that play in the SPN league in the E and D divisions, as well as a co-ed masters team comprised of women 35 years of age and up, and men 40 years and up. There are also men's 40-plus and 50-plus teams.

The teams have had many successes throughout the past 13 years, including a recent third-place provincial tournament result, which qualified the co-ed 'D' division Hammers for the nationals to be held in Langley in 2005.

"It was huge for us because there were some pretty awesome teams there. We're obviously very proud of the teams and all of the players over the years," said Smillie. "It's a lot of hard work, dedication and commitment by everyone involved to keep it going."

The Smillies first started the Hammers after being urged to become involved in slo-pitch by their friends Ian and Michelle Pepper. The first team started play in the Squamish Slo-pitch Association (SSPA) in the 'D' division, and worked their way into the 'A' division in four seasons. They have been playing at the A division in the SSPA for over nine years now. This year, the co-ed Hammers won the SSPA Division 'A' league for the first time, and narrowly made it a clean sweep by winning the playoffs, but lost in the final in overtime in the final game to the Predators.

The teams have all become well-known throughout the slo-pitch circles in British Columbia, and have travelled on many occasions to compete in tournaments in such places as Saskatoon, Calgary, Newfoundland, Vernon, Kamloops and twice in Mexico.

One of the highlights of the ongoing development of the team for Kathie and Graham is that both of their sons are now playing for the Hammers.

"It's kind of neat that our kids are involved with the Hammers. We joke about keeping it going from generation to generation."

While the teams continue to achieve success and have fun year after year, the Smillies are constantly thankful for each and every player that has stepped up to the plate throughout the team's history.

"We really want to thank all of the people who've been involved on all of the teams, especially Bob Babuin, Ken Miller, Rick and Joyce Jones, Kerry and Ron LaFerriere and Ian and Michelle Pepper. We're very proud of the various teams and all of their accomplishments, and we appreciate and would like to thank everyone for their commitment and support."

The Hammers achievement will be recognized at the Slo-pitch National annual dinner, to be held in Surrey on Saturday (Sept. 25). If you are interested in attending, please call Kathie Smillie at 604-898-5857.

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