A tribute from Hilton Earley, President of the New Zealand Softball Association about his life-long friend, Paul Rogers.
My Memories of Paul (Pixie) Francis Rogers 24/12/1944 to 4/4/2011
From Hilton Earley, Lifelong Friend and President of Softball New Zealand
Paul grew up at 13 St Lukes Rd, Mt Albert. I first got to know Paul when we were both about 6 years old and did what most boys did, growing up riding bikes, going to the speedway, movies, to a teenage club in Turquoise Jeans, shocking pink socks, Tony Curtis haircut and breaking the odd window while playing cricket, rugby, soccer or softball.
Paul was brought up by his grandparents, which were the very prominent sporting Sorenson family, including Jack Rugby, Bob Rugby, Brian Cricket and Bill rugby and softball, so it was no wonder at an early age Paul’s natural ability let him excel in any sport he participated in ie soccer, cricket, rugby and the one he chose, and proved to be one of best all-around players in the world, was Softball.
It was about 1955 when Peter Mc Nair, a neighbour and catcher, took Paul and I to Bears Softball Club, which was then based in Windmill Rd Mt Eden, to watch him practice and, as kids do, we picked a glove each. He started pitching and made it look easy. We played at Bears and won a few championships until Peter went overseas and Paul went to the newly formed Metro Club where he was playing soccer.
At this early stage he was spotted by Ramblers coach Rocky Chote who recognised his talent as a pitcher and, with the help of Bill Sorenson, persuaded him to transfer to Ramblers and started an amazing senior career at the ripe old age of 16 participating and being the rock behind the Ramblers Majors from 1961 to 1977 as a top class pitcher, batter, base runner and fielder, before finishing his career with United where he achieved his goal of winning a John Lennon Badge.
Paul represented Auckland at all age grade and premier tournaments from 1958 till his retirement in the 1980s.
His International career saw him represent New Zealand at the World Championships from 1966 to 1980 with the highlight winning a world championship medal in 1976 at Hutt Valley.
Further Recognition of Paul's lifelong contributions to Softball were being made a Life Member of the Auckland Softball Ass and the NZ Softball Service Award . Admitted to NZ Softball Hall Of Fame and the highest honour of all, the International Softball Hall of Fame.
Along the way we can’t forget the contribution and sacrifices that his teenage sweetheart and wife Judy and children, Brendon and Melanie had to make while Paul reached the pinnacle in his chosen sport.
In closing I can only say thanks for the wonderful memories Paul and for getting me and keeping me involved in softball who would have thought the 2 boys from St Lukes would have given their lives to the game, one reaching the top as a player and the other as an administrator,To Judy, Brendon, Melanie and Families on behalf of all the softball fraternity, our thoughts are with you all at this sad time with the sudden passing of Paul, one of the great exponents of our game. He will be sadly missed.