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Poulsbo baseball focus of new Heritage Museum exhibit
POULSBO — Wally Oyen may have played on the worst Babe Ruth baseball team in Kitsap’s history, circa 1959.
At 13, Oyen was recruited to help fill a second Poulsbo team after an influx of people from Little League created demand for it. A combination of ages and skill levels left much to be desired. The team was winless.
“We didn’t win a single game that year, but we had a lot of fun,” Oyen said.
Being on a team without a win didn’t keep Oyen from enjoying the sport and on July 10 Oyen showed visitors around the Poulsbo Historical Society Heritage Museum’s first baseball exhibit.
The exhibit, taking up a portion of the museum in Poulsbo City Hall, is now open. It will be on display through October.
As the exhibit shows, baseball plays an important role in North Kitsap. Virgil Taylor, a human database of sports, is one of the major contributors to the exhibit. His accomplishments are also highlighted.
“One thing about this community: baseball is really respected,” Taylor said.
Taylor spoke at city hall July 10 about baseball in the area as an introduction to the exhibit. A coach for 28 years in North Kitsap, Taylor has an impressive collection of statistics dating back to 1965, the year before he began coaching.
Along with those statistics from Taylor, which he said he’s probably spent too much time on, are signed baseballs from each of his teams. Signatures include Aaron Sele, who went on to play Major League Baseball for 15 years; and Jeff Weible, the current head coach of both baseball and football teams at North Kitsap High School. Both Weible and Sele played on the 1988 2A State Championship team. Those balls are displayed prominently in a case in the museum — Weible’s catcher’s mitt is there as well.
The majority of those items, including the baseballs, were in Taylor’s basement for years. Though the balls were placed in a display case, he admits it wasn’t very appealing.
As for the exhibit at the historical museum: “I think it’s excellent, gosh darn it,” Taylor said.
Also on display at the museum are selections from scrapbooks Taylor held on to. The books were put together by both Taylor and young women involved with the teams — then known as bat girls. They include news clippings, photos and more.
Baseball history is still being created.
With past players, such as Weible, still heavily involved in the baseball community, Taylor said baseball popularity is “an ongoing thing.” The long-time North Kitsap sports coach and fan said soccer is making its way further into the sports community as well. Lacrosse, Taylor said, will gain more momentum soon.