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SOUTH WESTERN ONTARIO SPORTS IS SPONSORED BY:

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The Intercounty Baseball League's Stratford Nationals won their first Senior A title in 1934.

The 1934 team also went on to capture the Ontario Baseball Association (OBA) championship defeating teams from Hamilton, Toronto and Niagara Falls.

Four years later the Nationals would claim IBL and OBA supremacy in back-to-back years in 1938-39.

The 1938 playoffs would see the largest crowd ever to witness a baseball game in the city with over 5,000 fans packing National Stadium to watch the hometown team take on Peterborough.

Stratford would also win the IBL championship in 1940, but would lose in the finals of the OBA title series.

Championships would continue to pour in for the Stratford Nationals throughout the 1940s with the teams winning five more IBL championships in Senior A and B ball.

With rising player cost becoming a factor in the early 1950s, the Nationals decided to move down to the Intermediate division and in 1952 they would claim the A championship.

Senior ball would return to the Festival City in 1964 and five years later, under the name the Kraven Knits, Stratford would capture its first Senior title in 25 years.

The Junior team captured its first IBL title in 1972 when a team led by future Expos pitcher Larry Landreth and catcher Denis Flanagan defeated Kitchener.

In 1975, the Stratford Senior team was renamed the Hillers and a year later they won their first of back-to-back titles beating the London Majors in 1976 and Brantford in 1977.

In 1977, Kevin Higgins set the IBL home run record with 15.

The Hillers folded in 1997 and it wasn't until last year, when the Storm moved their IBL team from St. Thomas, that Stratford once again had Senior ball.

Beside a plethora of championships, Stratford has also seen its fair share of future major league ball players suit up for the city.

Besides Landreth, the only Stratford Minor Baseball product to reach the big leagues, "Lefty" Coleman, who played one game for the Nationals before going on to suit up for the New York Yankees, and Geoff Zahn, who played 12 years, all played in Stratford before going on to play in the MLB.

Other players who have played for Stratford have gotten close to making the "big show".

To name a few: Chris Spiers was drafted by San Francisco and played in the Montreal system, Ken Plesha was drafted by the Chicago White Sox, but an injury cut his career short and both Kevin Aitcheson and Roger Kahle played with Toronto Blue Jays minor teams.

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