Thursday, August 16, 2012


By Stephen Llewellyn

The front diamond at the Royals Field in Marysville is being named after Fredericton baseball great William “Billy the Buzzard” Saunders.

Council-in-committee unanimously approved the name change at a meeting Monday.

The honour must still be ratified at a full meeting of council on Aug. 27.

In an interview Tuesday, Saunders said he was moved by the recognition.

“I’m flabbergasted,” he said. “There’s no doubt about it, I’m extremely pleased about it.”

Saunders baseball career is almost too long to list. He was a member of the 1965 Fredericton Junior Vikings at the Nationals in Regina, Sask. He played on three provincial senior championship teams from 1967 to 1977, and was head coach of the Marysville Royals from 1979 to 1985, winning three provincial and three Atlantic titles.

Saunders coached the Marysville royals to gold at the Canadian Senior Championship in 1981, a first ever for a New Brunswick senior team.

He won a second senior national championship as assistant coach with the Saint John Dodgers in 1983.

He was instrumental in the formation of the New Brunswick Junior Baseball League, and he has coached at the minor and junior level since 1987, winning eight provincial championships.

Saunders coached the 2011 Canada Games baseball team and was inducted into the New Brunswick Baseball Hall of Fame in 1993 and the New Brunswick Sports Hall of Fame in 1996

He’s almost as famous off the field as he was on, but it still involved baseball.

As chair of the Marysville recreation committee in 1972, he was instrumental in having a recreational building constructed on the first base side of Royals Field.

As part of the Marysville 150th Year Celebration, he’s chair of the committee organizing a baseball reunion for everyone who has played senior baseball in New Brunswick which is being hosted in Fredericton from Sept. 28-29.

Saunders still lives only a baseball’s throw from Royal Field in Marysville.

“I spent all my life on that hill from the time I could walk up there,” he said.

The 66-year-old said he loves his home town of Marysville, and he frequently goes to the field to watch kids play baseball.

“It’s a real honour,” he said. “I’ve had a few honours in my life and this is probably just as important, outside of my marriage and my kids.

“I’m at a loss for words. I don’t know what to say.”

He said he got his nickname of Buzzard on a trip to see a game of baseball at Fenway Park many years ago from his brother-in-law.

“It’s something that just stuck,” said Saunders.

“The whole province knows it. Some people don’t even know my real name.”

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