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Mustang Memories – Wendy Orpwood

Had the club been founded today, we’d be called something totally different, as Wendy reveals

Singer and Founding President Wendy Orpwood (formerly Spooner) shares her Mustang Memories

I remember my reason for joining… I wanted a baseball jacket.
 
The baseball team was founded in Monte A block in 1997. It was a usual night where we were all hanging out in the kitchens… and just maybe a few drinks were flowing! I distinctly remember telling everyone that I really wanted a baseball jacket! Baseball jackets weren’t easily available then, so what better way to get one than to start a baseball team.
 
None of us knew much about baseball so myself and Craig decided to do some research. We got together lots of friends and decided to start a team. Craig became my partner in crime and we worked hard to get people interested in joining our crazy venture!
 
Having no equipment or experience it was a learning process for everyone. We even learnt some of the rules from playing baseball on the Playstation One. After a while we managed to attract a Venezuelan Coach who gave us some vital guidance on how to play baseball. 
 

Founded today, the Mustangs might have been called the Southampton Benzo’s (pic credit: Google Maps)

The name Mustangs was founded in the University Bar one night.

I think it was a ploy to get a local bar/restaurant called Mustang Sally’s (on Carlton Place, now called Benzo Bar & Kitchen) to sponsor us.
 
We used to train on the common. It was important that everyone brought their jumpers as they were the bases! The ground was very bumpy, we had to stop for dog walkers and often had to appologise to people having picnic and to ask for our ball back.
 
I remember all jumping in my A reg VW Polo to go to a nearest shop that sold baseball bags, gloves, balls and bats. It was nearly an hour away in the middle of the countryside. We stocked up. We couldn’t find any baseball gear on the Internet as this was the time before Google.
 
We’ve had many kits over the years. Our first kit was a Rugby shirt, as no-one would supply baseball shirts. We then upgraded to a full kit, which was shipped over from Venezuela. We also managed to get a supply of baseball caps which has SU on the front. They were actually for Syracuse University and we all had to hand pick off the stitching so that we could claim it stood for Southampton University.
 
Our team became popular as we managed to steal some Cricket players – who were fantastic at strong arm throws! We struggled to find any opposition to start with, so we decided to challenge the University’s American football team, as they were the only group of people we could find who had played baseball before.
 
One of our first proper matches was against Oxford Brookes University. I remember it didn’t go particularly well – but we tried. I even remember being catcher for the second team at a home game where we were fundraising (I wasn’t that good even though I was President!). We didn’t have enough kit, so all I had was a mask for my face. My knee got the brunt of a baseball pitch – yes you could say it was all my fault as I should have caught it!
 
The team had started to grow and grow, and by the time we had to leave University myself and Craig got club colours which we were proud of. I am immensely proud that the Mustangs are still going. The team and friends we had kept the team going and it has gone on to amazing achievements. I’m sure I wouldn’t make the cut on any team now, but at the time it was just so much fun. I loved every minute of it.
 
With no money, no support from the University and only a few of us in number, the baseball team could have ended as quickly as it started. But with the help of our first rosta of players we not only formed a great club but had a great time doing it. So thanks to: Ken, Scott, Sam, the other Sam, Jo, Ken, Johanna, Colin, Mo, Alex, Felix.
 
Eventually I did get a baseball jacket – my husband (a fellow Mustang) bought me one just eighteen years after I first wanted one and I love it.
 
Wendy Orpwood
A true Mustang
 
Thanks to Wendy for taking the time to remember our early days. Catch Wendy singing across the UK at www.unionbelle.co.uk
 
If you have a Mustang Memory, please share it with us here