NZ Softball lost one of its greats of yesteryear with the passing of outstanding third baseman and batter Jamie Campbell in Invercargill on Saturday.
Jamie, after insisting on being at Rugby Park to see some of Southland's defence of the Ranfurly Shield against the Counties Manukau challenge, lost his own two-year battle with a brain tumour a few hours later.
He was one of Southland's stars for almost 20 years during a golden period at top level for the province, making his senior provincial debut in 1972, and continued playing at national tournament level until 1989.
That was after a glittering junior career which had seen him selected in South Island junior and senior schoolboys teams from 1968 as he followed the softball path laid down by father Niall, a long-time Southland representative and club coach, a Southland Evergreen until recent seasons, who survives his talented son.
Jamie's impact at his first senior national tourament in the 1972-73 season was such that he was named in the NZ team which undertook an internal tour later in the season, but he had a long wait before national selection came
again as part of the 1980 World Championship side to Tacoma.
In following years Jamie played for NZ in the Lion Brown series against Japan and Decatur in 1983 and in the test series against the Can-Am All Stars in 1984 and was also named as a reserve for the 1984 World
Jamie continued his involvement both as a coach at representative and club level and player at club level as he mentored his three sons playing for the Demons club. All three - William, Jonathan and Timothy - have excelled at
Softball, and other sports, and Jamie and Sandra were proud parents when Jonathan wore the Junior Black Sox uniform in Whitehorse, Yukon, Canada, in 2008.
Jamie was voted Southland "Sportsman of the Year" in 1980 for his softball achievements, but he was far from a one-sport wonder, excelling in every endeavour he turned to. He was a NZ junior basketball representative, a top-class rugby player when he played briefly around his softball commitments, an above average cyclist when triathlons became his passion, was deadly accurate on the snooker table, and knew how to get the best out
of a golf club.
He was a truly outstanding sportsman who brought endless pleasure to those who were lucky enough to see him in action and our thought are with Sandra and the family.
SNZ Chairperson Rex Capil will be attending the funeral in a SNZ official capacity.
Funeral details will be posted as soon as they come to hand.
If anyone wants to send a card to his wife Sandra the address is: 136 Chelmsford Street, Invercargill.
By Graham Latta
Sandra, William, Jono, Tim – it is very much an honour I stand before you all today as Softball NZ Board Chairman – and representing the wider Softball community of NZ
Jamie Robert Campbell – Many people say what’s in a name.
As a softballer Jamie was most things and more.
As I grew up I remember wandering over from my house on Yarrow Street to Surrey Park and watching Jamie every Saturday during the season – either playing for his mighty Demons or Southland. And what do I recall:
Jamie was class
He was power
He controlled the third base line
He turned out looking immaculate
Pride in appearance
Pride in performance
That shrilling high pitched whistle as the opposition batter prepared to swing
That cheeky grin as the opposition batter had a swing and a miss
That confident strut as he walked from the dug out to the batters box
That air of inevitability as he connected
That authoritative strut as he rounded the bases after putting another one over the fence
And that is only memories of Jamie as a batter and a third baseman – not to mention his ability as a pitcher – but I am nowhere near qualified enough to comment on that – best to leave that to someone much more qualified like your old mate Noel Eade
Jamie Campbell – what’s in a name
The pride of Southland Softball – a Southland Sportsman of the Year in 1980
A NZ softball representative – in 1973, in 1980 as part of the NZ team at the ISF mens world championship in Tacoma, in 1983 against Japan and in 1984 against the Can Am All Stars
A well respected and highly regarded Softballer – our country over
On and off the diamond – Jamie personified class, commitment, dedication and skill second to none.
Jamie is acknowledged as a true champion of our sport
Jamie – as we think of you strutting up to the batters box one last time. As we think of you eyeing that ball as it leaves the pitchers hand. As we think of you swinging that bat and putting the ball out of the park one last time -
I give the last word from Softball NZ to Eddie Kohlhase – the current Black Sox coach and fellow member of Jamie’s NZ teams in 1980s – and in Ed’s quiet unassuming way – in an email he sent to me on Sunday – he simply said – “Jamie – he was a great man”
Chairman Softball NZ