Year Inducted: 1975
It is generally recognised and accepted that Rusty Conway has been the best softball and fastball catcher in the Cornwall area over his career.
When he came to Cornwall out of Vankleek Hill at the age of 18 to work and play for Howard Smith, he had never previously donned a catcher’s mitt. The coach at the time was loaded with other talent and so decided Rusty was to be a catcher. It was the best decision he ever made. Rusty was a natural and quickly adapted to the position. Although comparatively small for a catcher, he was very big in toughness, determination, and desire. He never, at any time, flinched or backed away from blocking the plate against much bigger men heading for home at full speed.
His entire ball playing career over 17 years was with Howard Smith.
In 1951, his second year, he was regular catcher for one of the most powerful teams ever assembled in Cornwall, a team that went on to win the Eastern Ontario Intermediate and Senior Softball Championship. Other Championship teams he played with were in 55-57, 60-61.
In any season an All-Star team was picked and Rusty was chosen as catcher. When Ed Faigner’s or Ace Holden’s Four Man Teams came to Cornwall, he was always the starting catcher to play against them.
Other noted victories included the Massena Alcoa Tournament against powerhouses from New York State and Ontario. When Howard Smith were not competing in any tournament, other teams beat a path to his door to play with them; another tribute to his ability.
Catching is unquestionably the toughest position to play and Rusty was the only one who could efficiently handle the pitches of famed Ray Armstrong, and Billy Quirk to name but a few.
The continual physical pounding and stress over this long period began to take its toll so he hung up his spikes and mitt after an outstanding career of 17 years.