Ronald Sharpe was born at Goodwood, South Australia, on 11th March 1905, the son of chargeman John Crutchfield Sharpe and his wife Caroline (née McAllister). He began playing baseball as a junior with the Goodwood Club. His older brother Rupert captained the club and encouraged Ronald’s involvement. Reputed to be ‘one of Australia’s leading pitchers’, Sharpe was the club’s leading player for over two decades (1922-1946) and during his playing days the club won twelve premierships in the Major A grade. He was captain/coach of the Goodwood Club through most of those years and won many best player awards. The Capps Medal for the best player in the South Australian Baseball League was not instituted until 1936 but Sharpe did win the P.L. Dooland Medal, which was its earlier equivalent.
Ron Sharpe was included in the South Australian baseball team in 1921 as a sixteen-year-old and from then on played in the state side every year except one until 1938. He played again for the state in 1946, giving him an incredible record of eighteen state caps. He captained the team in 1932, 1936-1938 and 1946. After 27 years of playing baseball and being ‘the most recognizable name in the game’, he retired in 1946.
He was selected for the Australian team in 1925, and again in 1928. When the Japanese visited Australia in 1928 Sharpe pitched 6 innings for no hits in South Australia’s 12-0 win.
In 1931 he pitched the complete eleven innings in South Australia’s 2-2 tie with New South Wales, striking out 19 batters, walking 4 and giving up only 3 hits. The first Claxton Shield competition (Australian Championships) was held in 1934 and South Australia won the national title, defeating New South Wales 2-l in eleven innings and Victoria 8-5. Sharpe pitched the full eleven innings against New South Wales and saved the game against Victoria in the fifth with loaded bases and one down.
Although predominantly a pitcher, Sharpe was often in the leading League hitters. His batting average was usually over .300 and in 1928 was .422. From 1923 to 1953 he was the News baseball writer.
Ron Sharpe was an accountant at the Islington works of the South Australian Railways and was instrumental in establishing the Railways Baseball Club. In 1935 he was made a life member of the Goodwood Baseball Club and in 1949 a life member of the South Australian Baseball League. In 1962 the Helms Foundation in the United States provided an award for the best player in the Claxton Shield. It was given ‘in honour of Ron Sharpe’. The medal for the best player in Division 3 of the S.A.B.L. is the Ron Sharpe Medal.
Sharpe also played for the Adelaide Cricket Club (1927/28 and 1947/48), was a selector during the war years and led one of the teams of pooled players (Sharpe’s XI) who played exhibition games in the period 1943-46. He played at a time when it was much easier to be a first class player in two sports each year --- cricket in summer, baseball in winter. He was an outstanding leg spinner and could have played for South Australia but the presence of Australian spin bowler Clarrie Grimmett kept Sharpe out of the state side. He led the South Australian bowling aggregate in 1935/36 with 56 wickets and in 1937/38 with 48 wickets. He made 1,656 runs (average 13.14) and took 587 wickets (average 20.38) in his first-class career. His best tally was 8 for 25 against University in 1935/36. He took 13 wickets against Kensington in 1943 and is credited with two hat tricks, in 1937/38 and 1943/44. He was made a life member of the Adelaide Cricket Club.
Ronald Sharpe died of Parkinson’s Disease on 24th October 1972. He was cremated and his ashes interred at Centennial Park Cemetery.
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