Certainly, one of the names that frequently adorns the hallowed halls of the Waverley Baseball Club is SHELDON-COLLINS. Not only because of Life Member (1997) father Keith and Life Member (1992) son Matthew, but also because of their unique family contributions.
Keith Sheldon-Collins played most of his baseball at clubs other than Waverley and some of it before the WBC was even formed! His contributions to WBC have been many and various, but he remains one of the most highly regarded people at WBC and in baseball circles.
Matthew ‘Matty’ Sheldon-Collins is one of the greatest players ever produced by the WBC junior program. He scaled the heights of national and international baseball in senior ranks and has since earned a reputation as one of the finest coaches and managers in the game. Matthew who has played 5th most senior games at Waverley with 440 (and a few more seasons at Upwey!) is now back actively involved at WBC with son Jacob.
The Sheldon-Collins contribution goes further with Matty’s brother Simon Sheldon-Collins also being one of the great pitchers produced by the club, playing 221 senior games. Simon also represented Australia and became a ‘Flintoff & Dunn’ AMLB Hall-Of-Fame inductee for his performances with the Waverley Reds in the Australian Baseball League.
Maybe overshadowed by his brothers, but also a fine baseballer for Waverley was Tim Sheldon-Collins who also played 221 senior games for the club and he should never be forgotten among the clan.
We are told that Keith’s daughter Kellie also played domestic league baseball as a junior at Waverley before also helping out as a scorer.
The dynasty continued in the 2020/21 summer season with Mathew’s son Jacob winning the club MVP award.
Somewhere behind all of this we must not leave out Keith’s wife Louise who, not only helped to produce all of these pedigree baseballers for the club, but she also contributed in many ways behind the scenes at Waverley.
However, for the purpose of this blog, we must concentrate on the Life Members Keith and Matthew.
Keith Sheldon-Collins ED. ASM.
Awarded Life Membership in 1997
Keith Sheldon-Collins’ contributions to the Waverley Baseball Club have been many and various, starting as a player of outstanding quality.
Keith later moved into coaching and he was an assistant (as Batting Coach) to his good friend Dick Mason when the club secured its first ever Division One Premiership in 1981. Among his other contributions, Keith has been a long-serving Committee Member and then acted as a consultant to the Board for several years.
These days Keith is “the voice of Waverley” as our tremendous game-day announcer. He does this job with the same competence, versatility and aplomb that has typified everything he has done in baseball and throughout his life. His reputation in baseball circles reaches far beyond the confines of the Waverley Baseball Club, but we are proud to claim him as a “Waverley Man”.
Born in 1938, his interest in baseball started with a make up game at Collingwood Technical School in 1952. He then joined Northcote Baseball Club for the 1953 season and played with that club until 1962.
Having moved to Ferntree Gully following his marriage to Louise he played for several years at the Upwey Club in the Ringwood District league before returning to VBA via the North Balwyn Club where he played until joining Waverley in 1975.
Keith was already serving on the VBA Junior League Committee, a role that would last for some 10 years culminating in him being appointed as the first Pee Wee Commissioner for Victoria when the U/13 National League operated.
Part of his career was well summed up in the address by Keith Whitford when proposing him for Life Membership to the 1997 AGM. Part of this address follows-
“You are obviously aware that Keith has been the Administrative Director of the club for the last four years working virtually “full time” hours on the secretarial matters necessary for a club the size of Waverley to function efficiently. However, Keith does much more for WBC than regular secretarial duties. For example: – He manages the pro-shop from pre-season (Summer) until well into the winter season. He acts as the equipment buyer for both senior and junior divisions. Keith assists the schools using Napier Park for inter-school games by marking out diamonds, opening and closing the complex and “moking” afterwards. He has also become our principle Council Liaison Officer (first with Waverley and now Monash) helping us develop closer ties with our landlord. Add to the above Keith’s regular appearances behind the plate as Chief Umpire during the last couple of seasons for our fourths and fifths and his current level of contribution to WBC can be better appreciated.
However, the older members will recall his service to the club and baseball over the twenty-one years he has been associated with “Waverley”. On arrival at the club Keith became the representative coach at under/13 level and over next 9 years was to fill that role successfully, at under/15 and under/18 as well. He was Manager and assistant coach of the under/13 State side for some six years. Keith was Assistant Coach to Dick Mason for our First Nine, Manager of our Second Nine and Club Batting Coach for three or fours years at the time when “Waverley” were to win the first two of its Division 1 premierships. Throw in his active playing involvement with the now legendary “Dads Army” in the late 70s and 80s and you can see that his total contribution to WBC has been outstanding over many years. It would be remiss of me not to mention his other significant contribution in “siring” three top baseballers for Waverley, with Matthew and Simon representing Victoria and more recently Australia at Olympic level.”
This last paragraph should read four as Peter Wood would point out. There was also Kellie who played for his Pythons. Not only did she play but also for a number of years scored for the teams Keith coached.
In total Keith served on the Board of Management of WBC for eleven years, five of those as Administrative Director.
For his services to Baseball and Waverley Baseball Club in particular he was awarded the Australian Sports Medal. This honour was multiplied, creating a rather unique situation, when his sons Matthew and Simon also received this medal but being nominated from different sources.
When asked about his achievements over the years he is quick to emphasise the enjoyment that his family has had in being involved in the world of baseball and the friendships that have been made all over Australia. However, he does remember with great pride when the club celebrated the opening of the new clubrooms, which he regards as a monument to the memory of a lot of people who over the very long period it took to achieve this goal never gave up the fight.
Matthew Sheldon-Collins ASM.
Awarded Life Membership in 1992
Matthew Sheldon-Collins’ is one of the most decorated players ever produced by the Waverley Baseball Club. ‘Matty’ was one of the finest short stops you will ever see and a clutch hitter in any situation.
A much decorated junior player who became a fixture in Victorian State Junior teams, Matthew progressed to senior ranks as a cornerstone of the era that established Waverley as a powerhouse in the VBA senior competition. Not only did he play a key role in the club’s first Division One Premiership team, he was to feature in our first eight Division One Premierships. During this time ‘Matty’ was voted the Wildcats Senior Club Champion on five occasions.
Matthew played 440 senior games for the club, and he would have been up around the same number as his long time team-mate David Clarkson, had he not moved on to coach and play his last few years at Upwey.
Matthew went on to be a highly successful, triple-Premiership head-coach with Upwey Ferntree-Gully Senior club and he also was head of the Victorian Institute of Sport Baseball Program for several years. ‘Matty’ remains very much a favourite at Waverley, although his father (WBC Life Member Keith) assures us that he actually started his career at North Balwyn at about 7yo!
Some of Matthew’s finest playing years were during the halcyon days of the Australian Baseball League where he, of course, established himself as a team leader, fan favourite and all-time great with the Waverley / Melbourne Reds. He was inducted into ‘Flintoff & Dunn’s’ AMLB Hall of Fame as an age eligible inductee in 2000.
Here is Adrian Dunn’s profile from ‘Flintoff & Dunn’s Australian Major League Baseball”:
The late Doug Clarkson, the popular Reds’ ground announcer, would always introduce him as ‘your friend and mine’ and that’s how Matthew Sheldon-Collins played – a real fan favourite. An ‘original’ Waverley Red, Sheldon-Collins is one of the most decorated Australian baseballers.
He was the key starting shortstop for the Reds inaugural ABL Championship team in ’90, where he was voted MVP, and was again a key player when they won their second Championship in ’95.
Sheldon-Collins began his baseball at Waverley aged eight and still played for them nearly three decades later, before moving on to coach Upwey.
He represented Australia from 1982 until the Atlanta Olympics.
Sheldon-Collins also had the honour of being only one of three Australians to play in the World Amateur All-Star game at Dodger Stadium in August 1991.
Originally a gold glove standard short stop, Sheldon-Collins remained a tremendously reliable infielder into his 30’s, but it was his savvy, experience and leadership which were so invaluable to the Reds.
Just before the last home series of ’97 Sheldon-Collins announced it would be his last ABL series and his massive contributions to the team were warmly recognised. He was appointed Director of the baseball program at the Victorian Institute of Sport in 1997.
While his lifetime .275 batting average was very good for a shortstop, this did not give a proper indication of his value as one of the most reliable, clutch hitters during the first decade of Australian major league baseball. ‘Matty’ was an enormously tough out, owning the remarkable all-time career lowest strikeout per at bat ratio of .059!
This is further emphasised with a glance at the same statistic for individual seasons where he ranks in the top 11 no less than five times!
Adding further to his reputation as THE MAN to have hitting for you in the clutch, Sheldon-Collins batted .351 in post season play and struck out just once!
A legend among Reds fans, he was an automatic choice for the Reds All-Decade Team.
… and some of his career profile:
- Waverley Wildcats 440 Games
- Junior Victorian State Representative 1975-1980
- Five Club Champions Trophies at Waverley
- George Heron Medal winner as VBA Division 1 MVP
- Three-time (consecutive) Premiership Coach/Player at Upwey FTG
- Represented Victoria 1982-86
- Represented Australia 1983, 1985, 1987,1988, 1993 1996
- World Amateur All-Star 1991
- Played ABL 1990-97
- Inaugural 1990 ABL Championship MVP
- Waverley Reds Games- 327