Sarnia’s AAA baseball team will boast a rich military heritage if and when it takes to the field this year.
The Sarnia Braves are now known as the Sarnia Brigade after the Ontario Baseball Association mandated all teams remove Indigenous names and symbols, one of the coaches said.
The Ontario Champions considered several names during team group chats, Joel Ainsworth told The Journal. Suggestions included former Sarnia team names such as The Royals, Imperials and Tigers, he said.
“We started mulling over names, and kind of discussing as a team and throwing out ideas. Some of them were quite funny,” he said with a laugh, noting one team member suggested the Screaming Seagulls.
Ultimately, they took inspiration from the local military regiment’s storied history.
“We wanted to be consistent with the connotation of ‘Braves.’ We started looking at the 1st Hussars, the history of it,” said Ainsworth. “Just learning about that rich history locally… we wanted to pay tribute.”
The 1st Hussars are based in London and Sarnia, with the local regiment located in the George Stirrett Armoury on Confederation Street, just a few blocks from Stan Slack Field.
Members served in the Boer War, First and Second World War and numerous peacekeeping and peacemaking operations – in Cyprus, the Golan Heights, Bosnia, the Congo, Somalia and Afghanistan. At least 80 members of the 1st Hussars served in Afghanistan, many of them from Sarnia.
The unit fought at Vimy Ridge and the “Hundred Days” campaign in 1918 when Canadians troops took the lead in pushing back the German army.
“Learning about that rich history … we just want to pay tribute, kind of like the Legionnaires Junior B hockey club,” said Ainsworth. “The men’s team, right away, took to this name. Strong, stoic, Braves, Brigade. And we definitely took to the logo.”
Sarnia’s minor baseball program, also known as the Braves, is now called the Sarnia Baseball Club, Ainsworth said. Organizers haven’t decided if they’ll also take the Brigade name.
Ainsworth said there had been no issues locally with the Braves name.
“All we care about is fun in the sun and winning high calibre baseball games. That’s it. We don’t want to be the centre of any controversy,” he said.
The Brigade plays in the Southwestern Baseball League.
Sarnia won Ontario Championships in 1959, 1966, 1974, 1994 and 2019, won the Michigan Cup in 2015, 2016 and 2017, and were Canadian bronze medalists in 1971 and 1994.
Ainsworth hasn’t lost hope baseball will return this summer. Though they’ve missed the official start date games could be played as late as October, he noted.