Do you see the vague square shape with a circle near its centre in this Google satellite photo of Kalang Oval – between the cricket pitch and the northern goal posts ? It’s not a crop circle (or crop square either!) – but rather the last vestiges of a baseball diamond that was on the oval in the 1970s and 1980s.
Blackburn Baseball Club played there from 1971-1976 and then relocated to Billabong Park in Vermont South soon after it was built in the mid 1970s.
Our Blackburn Creeklands Chronology records that the Nunawading Baseball Club (in winter) and the Doncaster Baseball Club (in summer) then became the resident clubs. We haven’t been able to locate much information about the latter’s tenure.
Nunawading Baseball Club folded in 1988 to merge with the East Burwood Baseball club creating the Forest Hill Baseball Club which had its first season in 1989 – also at Billabong Park where the Blackburn club went 12 years earlier. We therefore think the last game of baseball at Kalang Oval must have been in 1988.
The diamond was oriented the way it was to maximise the hitting distance in the park and to try to keep balls out of houses and the car park [nevertheless, the children’s playground was in its current position…]. Kalang Oval is quite small and the playing surface is close to neighbouring housing. The downside of all this is that balls could go over fences particularly when mishit… and we note that baseball players wear helmets for good reason. The sides of the diamond would be 90 feet long (a little under 30m). A baseball can be hit 500-600 feet (~180m) – that would be over Kalang Street! At the time, there was a large wire back net structure known affectionately as “The Igloo” to provide some protection. This was a pipe and wire construction and was dismantled after the last club moved out. Ultimately, a campaign by neighbours to Council resulted in the baseball being relocated.
We thank Craig from the Forest Hill Baseball Club and Marilyn who was associated with the Nunwading club for helping us fill in some of the gaps in our knowledge. Marilyn had three sons playing baseball for Nunawading, scored for many years and was on our park Committee (then called the “Linear Park Committee of Management”) representing the Nunawading club (along with a representative of the Bowls Club) in 1985. Craig started playing Under-13s for Nunawading which wasn’t played at Kalang Oval but did attend a few Senior games there. However, he did play at Kalang Oval in the Under-15s and Under-17s in winter for the former Nunawading Baseball Club.
Other than baseball in the 1970-80s and today’s cricket and Auskick football, Kalang Oval has hosted a variety of other sports including gridiron and horseshoe throwing.