For more than 30 years, this 89-year-old has been the voice of East York Ladies Softball

For more than 30 years, 89-year-old Peter Cripps has lent his voice to the East York Ladies Softball Association as their official volunteer announcer.

Peter Cripps began announcing in the 80s and since then, he's barely missed a game

Peter Cripps, 89, sits on the announcer's bench in his 'office' at Dieppe Park. (Taylor Simmons/CBC)

For more than 30 years, Peter Cripps has lent his voice to the East York Ladies Softball Association as their official volunteer announcer.

The league plays twice a week during the summer, two games each night, at Dieppe Park near Donlands Avenue and O'Connor Drive.

Cripps, 89, says he's only missed one or two games during his time behind the mic.

"I was out of town for a trade show, but outside of that I've been here all the time," he told CBC Toronto.

"He asked permission to take the night off … and he called in a sub announcer," said Allyson Cullen, a 15-year veteran of the league.

Allyson Cullen is a 15-year veteran of the league and has spent many nights listening to Cripps's voice. (Taylor Simmons/CBC)

"He's a pillar on the other side of the fence. He's always, always there, and if he wasn't people would wonder."

3 decades behind the mic

Cripps shows up a few hours early each night the teams play. He walks from his home just up the street. (Mehrdad Nazarahari/CBC)

Cripps's attendance record is just one example of his dedication.

In addition to his duties as official announcer, he's served as the league's president and he sponsored a team in the 1990s that ended up winning the title.

"We were really hooted. Hallelujah, you know!"

He remembers being asked to begin announcing and scorekeeping after attending a game in the 1980s to cheer on a friend.

According to Cripps, he "never could catch a ball," so why take the post?

"These gorgeous young ladies!" he said. "I just like it. It's busy in the summertime, and I just live up the street … I'm here to see the girls, get a little chitchat."

The East York Ladies Softball Association holds games twice a week in the summer. On Sept. 6, they held a post-season, co-ed game to use up their park permit. Of course, Cripps still attended. (Taylor Simmons/CBC)

As a retired salesman, Cripps said he does have time to make the weekly commitment. Although, he does mix in five days at his local gym, where he "can still pump fifty-pound barbells."

As far as he knows, there's nobody like him working for any other recreational league in the city.

"We're a little different, we have an announcer!"

Each game day, Cripps will show up at about 4 p.m. to get the bases out of what he calls his "office" — a small, green hut just behind home plate.

Cripps says he'll then walk over to the library or grab a coffee before returning to his post to greet the incoming players.

Cripps takes stats during the games. During the regular season, he tallies up the numbers after the game, types them up and posts them at the field for the players to check. (Taylor Simmons/CBC)

With help from team members, he fills out a game sheet so he can call out the players' names as they're on deck and coming up to bat.

For example, as heard at a September evening game: "Bottom of the first, first three batters. Heidi's batting, Ryan's on deck, Sharon's the third batter. Bottom of the first!".

Still, he sometimes fumbles a name or two.

"You got to keep your wits and keep on top of it. I make the odd goof up there, I mean we all make mistakes," he said.

But that doesn't seem to perturb the teams.

"Peter's announcing is cherished very much by the players. He often calls out our numbers, but definitely our names. First names only," Cullen said.

"He always comes over between games and tells us his highlight and what was special to him and how great a game it was because although our league is community-based, it's very competitive."

Cripps has played a number of roles with the East York Ladies Softball Association, such as president, team sponsor and currently announcer and scorekeeper. (Taylor Simmons/CBC)

When the game is done, Cripps will walk across the street to Sophie's Sports Bar & Grill to go over the stats: runs for, runs against, etc.

Then, he'll take them home, type them up and post them on the field's bulletin board.

Cripps's answer to why he puts in all this effort: "Well, why not?"

Clearly, his support is a home run for the league.

"Peter is very special," Cullen said. "We're very lucky to have him."

About the Author

Taylor Simmons

Associate Producer, CBC Toronto

Taylor Simmons works in all areas of the CBC Toronto newsroom, from writing for the website to producing TV and radio stories. Taylor grew up in Mississauga, Ont. and studied journalism at Western University. You can reach her at taylor.simmons@cbc.ca.