The La Trobe University Baseball Club Inc. (LTUBC) was founded in 1968 and began competing in the Victorian Baseball Association (VBA) in that same year. The inaugural Tony Haydon The baseball season ran in the winter months in those early years. In 1976 the VBA ran both winter and summer competitions, the purpose of which was to eventually switch the main season to the summer. Our club decided to stay as a member-only in the winter season. In 1978 The Sports and Recreation Association (SARA) of the University raised the possibility of building a new diamond for our club. The grand plan would see the old eight-acre area to the east of the sports pavilion, transformed into a mega sporting complex including an athletics track and new purpose-built grounds for baseball, rugby, soccer, and hockey. Alas, this plan never came to fruition and our club continued to play its games on a field that was overlapped by a soccer ground and two hockey fields, sometimes with play being conducted by two or three different sports at the same time.
In 1981 the VBA cancelled its winter season altogether so the LTUBC had to find a new association. The club chose to compete in the Diamond Valley Baseball League (DVBL) due to its proximity. The LTUBC along with other ex VBA teams, including The University of Melbourne Baseball Club entered as A Grade teams. Shortly after this time, the DVBL changed its name to the Victorian Winter Baseball League and incorporated many more teams from outside the Diamond Valley and because of its growth had become the premier winter competition in the state.
The LTUBC happily competed in A Grade in that competition for many years until the lack of facilities at our ground on the lower playing fields resulted in the VWBL giving the club the ultimatum; If you wish to continue to compete in A Grade then facilities such as change rooms and toilets must be provided to opposition clubs. In those days there was not even cover to be had when it rained. The sports pavilion being the closest facility was about one hundred meters away. The Sports and Recreation Association (SARA) decided that renting a baseball diamond was a more viable option than upgrading our facilities. And so the club was relocated from the Bundoora Campus to a diamond in Royal Park (18km from the Bundoora Campus) that was leased from The Melbourne City Council.
It was no small coincidence that this ground was also leased by The University of Melbourne for its baseball teams. But while their club grew into six competing teams including an all-girls team the LTUBC dwindled until one year we only had one current student as a member. This move proved to be to the long-term detriment of the club as member numbers dropped significantly and students became a rarity as the club had now distanced itself so much that it had no real base on campus. As a result our on-field performances slowly declined to the point where we were relegated from A-Grade to the B Grade competition. Such was the spirit of the LTUB, that we immediately won the B Grade premiership and were returned to A Grade. But alas not being able to encourage students to travel so far to play meant we were still not recruiting well enough and returned to B grade the next season where we remain today. The last time the LTUBC competed in A Grade was in 1993.
During the mid-nineties, the committee of the club made the strategic move of relocating our training facilities and all external activities back to the Bundoora campus to secure the club’s future and encourage more student participation. Due to several factors at the time the university management in collaboration with the City of Darebin decided we had put forward a persuasive argument and agreed to construct a baseball park. Our diamond at 3A Kingsbury Drive Bundoora was regarded as one of the best baseball diamonds in Melbourne. At the time we had an electronic scoreboard, 6 light towers, 2 batting cages, scorers box, and dugouts.
The LTUBC had competed regularly in the InterVarsity (IV) competition since its inception and hosted the games in 1976. We are again regulars at these games and students who play for teams other than LTUBC in weekend competitions don the colours of our club proudly supporting LTUBC at IV time.
The COVID 19 pandemic impacted our club and all baseball in Melbourne in 2020. The 2020 Melbourne Winter Baseball season was cancelled due to the frequent lockdowns and uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic. It is fair to say that 2020 and 2021 were challenging years for our club. The 2021 season did get underway, however, this season too continued to be impacted by lockdowns. Also, the emergence of two new coronavirus strains meant having a season that resembled anything close to normality was impossible.
The LTUBC has competed competitively every year since its inception in 1968 and has competed for the University at the highest level in Victoria by playing in an A Grade competition for more than 20 years of our 50-year history. We have embraced many challenges in our 50 years and continue to strive to provide a safe place for all people regardless of race, gender, or ability to play the game we love. In 2017 we had enough women to enter a team in the Women’s Baseball Competition and have continued to enter a team each subsequent year. The last time our Seniors Men competed in A Grade was in 1993. We now host the A Grade final of the MWBL competition on our diamond every year as our ground is considered to be the best in the competition. We hope that one day very soon we will be representing the university in this match.