Vale Nox Bailey, pioneer of men’s softball in Australia

Vale Nox Bailey, pioneer of men’s softball in Australia

The Australian softball community is mourning the loss of Nox Bailey, a much-admired stalwart of the game whose legacy lives on through a championship shield in his name.

Nox Bailey died in Perth last week at the age of 89.

Norris “Nox” Bailey’s interest in softball grew from conversations he held with a workmate in the 1960s and led him to set up a competition for local boys and girls in Bayswater, Western Australia.

Nox Bailey.

Nox Bailey.

Nox was involved in softball since 1964, when he formed the Gee Bees club. By the 1971-72 season, the club fielded a team in A Grade. He was Secretary of the WA Softball Association (now known as Softball WA) from 1974-77 and was an avid supporter of our sport in the country regions, encouraging regional players to participate in State Championships. He later became the Association’s Treasurer.

In recognition of Nox’s contribution to the promotion of men’s softball in Australia, the Australian Softball Federation (now Softball Australia) honoured Nox in naming the trophy for the Under 19 Men’s National Championship the Nox Bailey Shield.

In the early 1970s, Nox negotiated with his local council to acquire space for four diamonds and began taking his teams across the city to compete in a Scarborough competition, which his kids quickly outgrew.

NoxBaileyShield

The Nox Bailey Shield.

Elected to the West Australian Softball Association Board in the role of Secretary, Nox began inquiring about the inclusion of a men’s social competition at the next major tournament. By 1976 he had successfully helped to establish the West Australian Men’s Softball League.

Little support was given from the WASA and the men were restricted to playing on a Sunday on sub-standard grounds. As he had done over a decade before, Nox approached the local council and secured space at Morely and Cooke’s Reserve to establish appropriate playing diamonds. In 1978, the first Men’s Softball State Championship was held.

Nox collaborated with John Reid and Edna Nash of NSW in establishing an interstate competition for men in 1983. He joined forces with them again only a few years later as they attempted to introduce an Australian Men’s softball team in the next major international tournament under the ASF (Softball Australia) banner.

In 1988 Australia debuted in the ISF Men’s Softball World Championship.

A powerful force behind the development of Men’s Softball in WA and ultimately Australia and a member of the Bayswater Morley Softball Club for 25 years, Bailey was made a Life Member of the West Australian Softball Association in 1976. A decade later he received Life Membership of the West Australian Men’s Softball League.

Nox Bailey

Nox Bailey at home in WA.

To this date, he is the only person to have that honour bestowed upon him. As John Reid was immortalised in the National Men’s Competition, it was only fitting that Nox Bailey’s contribution to softball shall forever be remembered as the nation’s best U19 men come together for the Nox Bailey Shield year after year.

While softball will be forever grateful to his contribution to the sport, Nox will also be remembered for his work in other areas. He joined the navy as a 16-year-old in 1943 but left to start work at Wesfarmers to provide for his family. After leaving that company 28 years later, he became a postman until retiring in 1985.

Retirement did not necessarily mean putting his feet up. Nox was treasurer of his local bowls club and of the residents’ association where he lived. He volunteered with Meals on Wheels and with the  Bayswater Extended Community Help Organisation. He was a member of Rotary and co-founder of the Tourette Syndrome Support Association in WA.

Nox Bailey leaves behind wife Joyce, three children, six grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.