Baseball bids farewell to leader of the pack

Stanley Brickwa
From left Gavin Roodt, Jerry Johnson, David Burch Trevor Manuel, coach Jimmy Roodt, Henry Africa, Fergus O’ Connor, Vernon Swartz and Stanley Brickwa. Missing from this picture, and very much part of that winning era is Claude Swartz and Chris Cloete.

The baseball fraternity is mourning the passing of Western Province stalwart, Stanley Brickwa, 62, who died over the weekend.

The “always good in spirit” David Burch, a long-time friend and teammate, was quite emotional when Athlone News contacted him earlier this week. They grew up in close proximity, in Belthorn Estate, near City Park Stadium.

Burch, who was five years older, said Brickwa was a born leader with good sportsmanship qualities, always determined and driven since a tender age.

“Stan had a strong attitude. Everything he did, he did it 100%. He took control of his life from a very young age. He was very determined.

“We grew up together. City Park was the former home of Western Province Baseball and we would watch the rugby there too. When baseball had just come into the area we did not have much to do, so we played for Lansdowne Baseball Club, from the juniors into the top tier. We won seven years in a row thanks to Stanley,” he said.

Burch said the club, known as Lansdowne in the 1980s, prior to the unification of sport in the 1990s, later merged with Eagles Baseball Club to form Lansdowne Eagles Baseball Club.

Burch said they were 11 friends who lived in Honeyside Road, all played for the club in the 80s and that long after they had stopped playing, Brickwa, who was considered Western Province’s main pitcher at the time, continued his involvement with the sport by going on to the administration side of things.

One of his old friends and former teammate,Trevor Manuel (no relation to the former finance minister), said Brickwa was the secretary and vice president of the SA Baseball Association in the late 1980s and early 1990s. He was also the secretary for the Western Province Baseball Union.

At club level. he was the chairman of the Lansdowne Baseball Club and represented Western Province Baseball Union as a main pitcher for more than 10 years. During the unification of baseball he served on the code’s advisory panel and was a leading advocate for the sport at national level.

He was also the director of sport for the City of Cape Town.

“Ninety percent of us stayed on the same road. We all knew each other since we were 5 or 6 years old. That is where the bond started. He was always a pitcher. We were one of the most successful baseball teams back then. From 1979 until 1989 we won every year except for two years when the final of the WP Knockout Trophy and Grand Challenge rained out,” Manuel said.

“He was the leader of the team. It was just a natural thing, we all looked up to him. Stanley grew up under very difficult circumstances, but if you knew him, you’ll know he was very ambitious. He wanted to make a success of everything he did,” said Manuel.

Pictured are Stanley Brickwa, third from left, with the late Jimmy Roodt, Cyril Swartz and David Burch.