“If he hadn’t hurt his arm in the regionals I’m almost certain Fox Hill would have had a chance to win the nationals” (1973)
Craig Smith, Fox Hill General Manager

“Your Dad threw hard, but it was his movement/location that made him so good. The wins at the regionals against Ulmer and Stofflet were the greatest accomplishment Fox Hill ever had.”
Bobby Wills, Fox Hill Pitcher

“Your Daddy was a better pitcher than Al Lewis (Raybestos Cardinals National Hall of Famer).”
Bruce Wright, Fox Hill Rightfielder

“When John pitched he struck out 90-95% of the batters even as old as he was, it was no contest.”
Willie Frazier, NAS Meridian Athletic Director

“John put us on the map and there was no one faster.”
Charles Pratt, Robertson Plumbing 1st Baseman

“When comparing world-class pitcher, Metro Szeryk, to “Big John”, Lyn said that he rated both men at the top of the softball world over the past few years, and they were faster and smarter than most and that he didn’t know any better, comparing them to world-renown; Joe Lynch (Clearwater Bombers) and Roy Burlison (Springfield, MO).”
Lyn Ackerman, Raybestos &  Fox Hill Pitcher

“I hate to think how we would have done if we didn’t have him that year (1973).”
Ron Peterson, Fox Hill Pitcher

“John can throw, and he’s getting better as the season goes on. I think we’d be hurting without him.” (1973)
Jack Hull, Fox Hill Manager

“The team to beat in the regionals (1973) is the Bankers.”

Ty Stofflet, Rising Sun Pitcher, National Hall of Fame

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The Fireballer

A Legend to the Game of Fastpitch Softball











It was exciting to bear witness to the vibrancy at a ballpark surrounded by thousands of spectators watching a duel between two pitchers, as was the experience of men’s fastpitch softball at its highest level, the Class “AA,” Majors. The game was fast-paced as the short base paths and the closeness of the pitcher, caused the action to be compressed and hurried, and the outfield fences were moved up because a 12” softball didn’t carry as far as a tightly wound baseball, causing the seasoned professional baseball players who enlisted, difficultly to assimilate.

 
Fastpitch softball originated during the Great Depression and quickly spread across the nation, forming teams like the Fox Hill Hillian’s, the greatest fastpitch softball team to emerge out of Virginia, and players like; “Big” John Caynor, one of its finest pitchers of their 1973 “miracle year.” This story documents the history of fastpitch softball’s emergence, to its disintegration, while chronicling “Big” John’s remarkable life and career as the Fox Hill club chased the dream of a lifetime; to win the world tournament. If “Big” John would have remained injury-free in 1973, maybe Fox Hill could have gone all the way? Caynor’s courage and mind pushed him further than his damaged body could go but the Hillian’s fell short of their aspirations, finishing seventh; but they weren’t done?

 “Big” John Caynor’s with his eight-pitch cache that included a signature fastball approaching 100 mph, would forever be known as “The Fireballer.”

 
NOTE: “Big John” was inducted into the Tidewater Virginia Softball Hall of Fame in 1990 as one of 22 members of the Fox Hill All-Stars.