HISTORY OF THE CLAXTON SHIELD
Every year, the PERTH HEAT play in the National Baseball League to be crowned ‘Claxton Shield’ winners. Over the next few months, the Baseball WA Museum will take you on a historical journey of baseball in WA.
The first of those baseball articles will concentrate on the History of the Claxton Shield and the legend whose name is synonymous with baseball in Australia.
Norman (Norrie) Claxton was one of Australia’s sporting philanthropists who lent his name to the country’s most famous and iconic baseball competition. By the time he was 30, he had left his mark as a champion sportsman in six sports – Aussie Rules Football, cycling, hockey, baseball, athletics an cricket.
In cricket, he had represented South Australia against the touring England teams in
1901-02, 1903 and 1907. His highest first class innings was against Victoria in the Sheffield Shield scoring 199 not out.
As a cyclist, he won the Bendigo Sprint and other notable cycling events. In athletics, he won the Bay Sheffield 100 yards sprint in 1900. He was an ‘A’ grade hockey player. He played Rules Football for North Adelaide. He played baseball for North Adelaide In 1911 and 1912, represented South Australia during that time and became the President of South Australian baseball in 1913, a position he held until 1931. He held the title of Patron of the South Australian League until his death in 1951 aged 74.
All teams in the current National Baseball League bring together the top baseball players ‘striving to hold or regain for their State, the shield presented by Norrie Claxton in 1934’. There was a proviso that any State that won it on three successive occasions would retain it. South Australia achieved this in 1934-35-36 and Victoria in 1937-1938-1939.
When Western Australia entered the competition in 1937, increasing the interstate teams to four, the shield was made a perpetual trophy.
Today, the Claxton Shield is only surpassed by the Sheffield Shield which was played between South Australia, New South Wales and Victoria in 1892. Western Australia entered the Sheffield Shield in 1947 – 10 years after WA was competing for the Claxton Shield. Therefore, for Western Australia, the Claxton Shield is the oldest interstate competition.
Perth first held the series in 1938 and came very close to winning that series, narrowly losing to NSW 2-1 in the final. Games were played at Gloucester Park and Subiaco Oval. It wasn’t until 1952 that WA first won the Claxton Shield.
There was a long gap between innings before WA next won the Shield in 1975 and then in subsequent years 1977, 1978, 1979, 1985 (WA Brewers), 1991 (Perth Heat), 1997 (WA Heelers) and Perth Heat in 2000, 2008, 2009, 2011, 2012, 2014 and 2015 – an outstanding achievement of baseball in the professional era.
The Claxton Shield is undoubtedly a lasting legacy to an inspiring and visionary individual who had the foresight and interest in promoting interstate competition and rivalry in baseball. 2021-2022 looms as a season to add the silverware to the trophy cabinet once again.
- Various Claxton Shield Programs 1936, 1937, 1928 & 1939.
- John Claxton, great nephew of Norrie, who coached Swans Baseball Club in the late 1960’s and 1970’s.
- Article in 1984 Claxton Shield Program by Ken Gulliver, a former Australian and NSW Claxton Shield captain.