“The best lefthander this city has ever produced.” That is how the late Intelligencer sports writer Tom Gavey described Shud Ethier at the height of his fastball career. In fact, Ethier was not only considered the best lefty to ever come out of Belleville fastball, he was also believed to be one of the best ever produced in Canada. Few who played against Ethier would disagree.
When fastball was the city’s most popular summer sport, enjoying a particularly heady heyday in the 1970s, Ethier was king. Many local fastball fans need only recall the legendary marathon at Alemite Park in 1975 pitting Ethier and his Belleville McDonald’s teammates against St. Catharines in an Ontario Fastball League encounter. Few who witnessed it will ever forget it. Pitching against world-class hurler Dick Balint of St. Catharines, Ethier worked 27 innings in a heartbreaking loss. That 1975 classic was symbolic of Ethier’s fastball career. He was a workhorse on the mound and mowed down opposition pitchers with incredible regularity. Examples abound.
In 1963, while working the hill for the Ellis Juniors, Ethier struck out 51 batters over 22 innings in consecutive playoff games. He posted record numbers in the Eastern Ontario Fastball League, firing the first-ever perfect game in the circuit’s history – one of three in Ethier’s EOFL tenure – and tossed a total of 11 no-hitters. In 1979, Ethier registered an 18-and-2 record in the EOFL with a 0.77 ERA. He was voted Most Outstanding Pitcher and league MVP. Even as a child, Ethier demonstrated dominance in his sport of choice. He was a member of the city’s first-ever All-Ontario peewee championship team and later helped Howard and Robert Printing take a provincial intermediate “B” title.
Like many of his Hall of Fame comrades, Ethier’s various league championship and MVP awards are almost too numerous to mention. Later in his fastball career, Ethier turned to officiating and was as proficient calling the shots as he was delivering them. He won the Colling Memorial Award for his outstanding job as an umpire. Ethier died in 2001 at the age of 55.0