Webster’s dictionary defines “selfless” as “dedicated to others' welfare.” It is a prefect description of the late Joe Martin.
Martin was a builder in the truest sense of the word. The first president of Nechako Babe Ruth Baseball, Martin was instrumental in building diamonds at Heather Road Park and also helped with the construction of diamonds at Carrie Jane Gray Park. That he pitched in with money and work to complete those projects is admirable. What was truly selfless was sponsoring a Little League team in Fort St. James, a team Joe never saw play.
“He was a sports person with the child in mind,” says Shirley Gratton, the Northern Interior Commissioner of B.C. Babe Ruth Baseball and a neighbour of Joe’s. “He was a very kind-hearted person.”
Martin’s contribution to this city’s sporting life is hard to categorize. He was involved in baseball, hockey, softball, soccer and bowling to name a few. He was known to have paid registration fees for children who would otherwise never have played sports.
“I think the main thing he liked was the kids,” says Gratton.”He always had candy in his pockets.”
Martin was a do-er. If his assistance was requested, his trademark reply was “No problem!” Need bleachers moved from Centennial Park to Heather Road Park? “No problem!” Joe hitched the bleachers to his pickup and dragged the bleachers down the street. Need a power line for the concession booth? “No problem!” Joe helped get that done, too.
Gratton says Martin was known for his creative solutions to problems. Her favourite recollection was how he addressed the city’s request that Nechako Babe Ruth replace trees cut down when that power line went in. “No problem!” was the immediate response. Martin went out into the bush, chopped down some trees and “planted” them.
“I bought him, as a thank you present, two green sprinkling cans” to take care of the trees, which seemed to be doing poorly,” Gratton reflects.
“The guys all knew. They just howled; they thought it was the funniest thing.” Eventually the city connected a storm sewer on that plot and those “trees” would be removed anyway.
Joe Martin passed away in 1996, leaving behind an indelible legacy on this city’s sports community. His contribution makes him an excellent addition to the Prince George Sports Hall of Fame.