Leekcliff & Salt Baseball Club, normally known as Leekcliff & Salt, is a professional baseball club located in Wildsworth, Dinckley, Ianoia. The club was a founding member of the Nationwide Baseball Alliance (NBA) in 1900, and was still part of the league when it rebranded as the Nationwide League, which formed the second tier of professional baseball in Ianoia in 1915. They are affectionately known as the “Old Blues”.
Leekcliff Community Baseball Club was established in 1897, serving as the representative team for the northern coastal suburbs of Wildsworth. The club’s inaugural match took place on September 24th against Wildsworth-Boundary Avenue, resulting in a 7-3 victory. In 1898, Leekcliff Community made a significant move by joining the Ianoian Baseball Association.
With aspirations of joining the newly touted professional league known as the I-League, the club aimed to enhance its standing in the baseball community. However, concerns arose regarding their geographical location and limited fanbase, which were perceived as potential obstacles to their successful inclusion in the professional league. To mitigate these concerns and broaden their appeal, Leekcliff Community absorbed Salt Town Baseball Club, a team hailing from the nearby town of Salt. This merger resulted in a rebranding of the team as Leekcliff & Salt. Despite their efforts, the application submitted by Leekcliff & Salt to join the I-League was regrettably rejected in 1899. Nevertheless, they sought opportunities elsewhere and, in the subsequent year, joined the Nationwide Baseball Alliance, an alternate league that provided them with a platform to continue playing.
Leekcliff & Salt made their debut in the Nationwide Baseball Alliance (NBA) on April 7, 1900, after rain delayed the game scheduled for the previous day. Participating in a double-header against Strelda, the Old Blues suffered losses in both games. However, they managed to secure their first victory on Sunday, prevailing with a score of 7-6. Unfortunately, the year proved to be a forgettable one for the club as they finished last in the standings, finding themselves at the bottom with only six games remaining.
Despite their initial struggles, Leekcliff & Salt displayed signs of improvement over the following years. They finished 8th and 9th in the league standings in 1901 and 1902, respectively, indicating a positive trajectory. In 1903, the club achieved a 5th place finish, and replicated this success in 1904. These two seasons were the only instances during their 15-year tenure in the Nationwide Baseball Alliance when Leekcliff & Salt achieved a winning record. They posted a record of 28 wins and 26 losses in 1903, followed by a record of 29 wins and 25 losses in 1904.
The Old Blues experienced a downturn in their fortunes in subsequent years. They finished 6th in 1905 and then endured two consecutive 9th place finishes. The decline culminated in a last-place finish, occupying 14th position, from 1908 to 1910.
Despite a few slight improvements, such as finishing 9th and 8th in 1911 and 1914, respectively, Leekcliff & Salt struggled overall and became known as perennial underachievers in the league. This reputation was solidified prior to the league’s rebranding as the Nationwide League in 1915. During their time in the league, the club amassed a combined win-loss record of 380 wins, 92 ties, and 542 losses.
Leekcliff & Salt plays its home games out of Southern Cross Ballpark, a pitcher-friendly stadium situated in the residential suburb of Leekcliff. Originally an empty field, the club purchased the land in 1903 but were playing on it from the clubs inception in 1897.
With stands encircling the large playing area, the right field wall tapers in to accommodate the bullpens of both teams. The 11 foot high wall that starts by the left foul pole extends to 14 feet at right of center to help protect the players warming up. Right-handed hitters have a tougher time hitting home runs here due to the expansive left field.