When Marilyn Monroe famously sang that “diamonds are a girl’s best friend” she wasn’t talking softball. But for members of the 1978 Doc’s Blues women’s softball team, ball diamonds were just that.

Every year, for at least five months beginning in April, the Doc’s Blues all but lived at New Westminster’s Moody Park. There they put the rest of their lives on hold, training or playing six nights a week, slowly transforming themselves into a Canadian softball dynasty and one of the best teams in the world.

The 1978 Blues’ story really begins in 1974. The Vancouver Green & Louie team coached by Adrian Lavigne qualified for the world championships in Connecticut, but ended up finishing a disappointing seventh. Several players retired or left after that, leaving Lavigne with just nine players. He picked up Joanne Mick and Rosemary Fuller from Victoria to fill out the roster and asked for the commitment of this core group of players to train year-round working toward the next world championships in 1978. They agreed.

Several major changes occurred along the way. Dr. Ross MacLean became the team’s new sponsor in 1975, which is where the Doc’s Blues name originated. The team relocated to New Westminster from Vancouver and were fully embraced by the Royal City. Hundreds attended games and dozens hopped aboard the team’s big blue bus travelling to tournaments around the Pacific Northwest.

Lavigne built the Blues into three cohesive team units. The ‘Letter Perfect’ infield (meaning no opportunities for errors) consisted of Janice Robinson at first base, Heather Cranston at second, Patti McGuire at third, Ann MacLeod at shortstop, with Sandra Nerreter filling in as needed. The ‘Letter Perfect’ outfield comprised Liz Wood, Donna Blackstock, Michelle Desaulniers, and Norma Wood. Then there were the ‘Unbeatable Batteries’ of Fuller and Mick, Debbie Duke, Eileen Costello, and Diane Materi.

The Blues became a juggernaut, jetting to the world’s best softball tournaments, as far afield as Australia, Japan, and the Philippines. For the 1978 season, they played in and won three different women’s leagues: Vancouver Major, Northwest Major, and Pacific Coast. The squad finished with an amazing overall record of 113 wins, two ties, and just 16 losses in 131 games. In this period, the Blues would win eight BC titles in nine years and three Canadian titles in four years.

By winning the 1977 Canadian championships, the Blues earned the right to represent Canada at the worlds the following year in El Salvador. Playing in stifling heat in front of sell-out crowds and a loud marimba band, the Blues dominated their first seven games of the tournament, winning each and setting a record for runs scored, outscoring their opposition 66-5.

Their only defeat came at the hands of the US in the gold medal final, losing 4-0, to place second in the 15-team tournament, to this day Canada’s best-ever world championship result. The Blues stand as the last true ‘club’ team to represent Canada at the worlds, which now sends a hand-picked national team, and the only women’s club team to date to win a world championship medal.

Team Members: Donna Blackstock, Eileen Costello, Heather Cranston, Mag Davis, Michelle Desaulniers, Debbie Duke, Rosemary Fuller, Gloria Greenlee, Adrian Lavigne (manager and coach), Dr. J. Ross MacLean (sponsor), Alistair MacLeod (assistant coach), Ann MacLeod, Marilyn McComb, Patti McGuire, Diane Materi, Joanne Mick, Sandra Nerreter, Janice Robinson, Marg Skillings, Liz Wood, Norma Wood, Stan Yip (business manager)

Written and researched by Jason Beck, Curator of the BC Sports Hall of Fame.