With the break-up of the elite Bohemian team of the previous few seasons, players from the Prince Albert Brewery squad either drifted to other area clubs or were posted to military bases in other parts of the province or country. The 1942 Commercial League in Prince Albert began as a four-team circuit with the Penitentiary squad returning from 1941. The Nationals club of a year previous started out the season as the Railroaders but changed names again in July when the brewery took over sponsorship and the Bohemian lager moniker again emerged. Two new franchises, the Air Observers School, commonly referred to as A.O.S., and M & C Repair, completed the foursome.
With the influx of military personnel into the area, an Army team requested, and was granted entrance into the loop in early July, just in time to participate in the second half of the schedule and swelling the number of participants to five. Luckily for the Army team, experienced baseballers were readily available and replacing those posted elsewhere was not a particular problem. Only three original members of the Army squad that began play in July were with the team when the schedule was completed in late August.
The Army Blitzers, as they came to be known, wasted no time in taking over as the dominant force in the Commercial circuit, pulling ahead of the other four contenders early and going undefeated for the balance of the modest schedule. Two sudden-death semi-final matches were then arranged to begin the playoff process. The league’s cellar-dwelling occupant, A.O.S., was eliminated. The pennant-winning Khaki Boys were pitted against the Bohemians in one semi-final showdown while the Penitentiary squad met M & C in the other.
Down Saskatoon way, an influx of military personnel for training purposes gave impetus for expansion within the Saskatoon City Baseball League from three to five teams for the 1942 season. Two of the incoming franchises, the No. 4 Service Flying Training School and the No. 7 Initial Training School, were R.C.A.F. clubs. Along with another newcomer to the loop, the Tech Aeronauts, they joined the Cubs and Tigers who were both returning from the 1941 campaign.In what was a reasonably competitive circuit, the Tigers emerged with a two-game margin over the No. 4 S.F.T.S. squad to cop the 1942 regular-season pennant. The Cubs finished third, a scant half-game in front of the Airmen while the Tech Aeronauts snatched the final playoff berth
Moose Jaw had no operational City league in 1942 and it wasn’t until early July that a group of available baseballers decided to form a senior team to play a few exhibition contests and then challenge for the southern Saskatchewan title. No longer a member of the Southern League and without an established intra-city circuit from which to draw players, the civilian diamondeers from the Mill City decided to call themselves the “Orphans”. Their exhibition matches included games against the Notre Dame Hounds and 120 Training Centre, both members of the Southern League, as well the Mossbank RCAF, a military base in southern Saskatchewan. Their season ended when they lost a five-game series to these same Flyers from Mossbank in their quest to advance against the Southern League champion, Regina Red Sox.
On July 11, 1942, Scott Young (Neil Young's dad) penned a piece for Canadian Press on how that gear from the Chicago Cubs ended up in Wilcox, Saskatchewan with the Notre Dame Hounds.
Murray Hounds Get Equipment From Chi Cubs
A few years ago a baseball scout for Chicago clubs travelled from San Francisco to Wilcox, Sask., looking for talent. He found none, and even if the village of Wilcox had been teeming with big league prospects he ordinarily wouldn't have stayed more than a couple of days.
But he stayed a week and when he left he wrote a letter that brought annual gifts of uniforms and equipment for years thereafter. It was his first meeting with Father Athol Murray.
Father Murray is head of the Notre Dame School for Boys (alumni: Nick and Don Metz) at Wilcox. That year he had a good baseball team. He liked it so much he wrote a letter to William Wrigley, owner of Chicago Cubs. The little priest is eloquent. He started to write about one player, wound up extolling his entire team. He wrote so well that Wrigley sent a scout thousands of miles to look at Father Murray's senior amateur team, the Notre Dame Hounds.
It isn't hard to imagine this scout rattling through the middle of the continent, preoccupied with matters of grave import to baseball. After travelling for days, he finally heard the conductor shout : "Wilcox, next stop." He gathered his bags, prepared to detrain.
From the steps of the railroad car he took one horrified look at Wilcox, then turned to the conductor.
"Are you sure this is Wilcox, Saskatchewan," he asked.
The conductor said it was.
"The home of the Notre Dame Hounds?" the scout persisted, because from the letter he knew the name would be known to any Canadians.
The conductor said that was right, too. So our hero stepped gingerly to the platform. This is no reflection on Wilcox, but it wasn't exactly the type of place in which he expected to find the great baseball club he had been sent to scout.
It was midday, and the village streets were deserted. He walked along in the heat, carrying his luggage, looking for a hotel. He also wanted to find Father Athol Murray. The first human being he saw within talking distance was a little man in a black suit, hatless and with tousled hair.
"Pardon me," he called. "Could you tell me where I could find Father Murray?"
The little man turned, stuck out his hand. "Sure," he said. "Right here. I'm Father Murray."
The rest of the story is simply told. The scout didn't bother looking for the hotel, because Father Murray insisted he come and stay at the school. He looked over the Notre Dame Hounds, an average club. Its players had only one strong claim to greatness: Father Murray's faith that they were great. There was no real business in Wilcox for a Big League scout, or even a Minor League scout.
But our man stayed a week. Father Murray called Regina, about an hour's drive away, and Al Ritchie came out. If there is one man in the world who can talk as fluently about any given subject as Father Murray, it is Al Ritchie. And it was seven days later, before the scout could tear himself away.
A few weeks later crates of baseball equipment started to arrive in Wilcox--uniforms and equipment the Cubs couldn't use, but Hounds could. That Notre Dame team became the best-dressed amateur club in Canada.
You can see through that story the character and personal charm that Father Murray gives to his calling--and any other worthy cause that happens along. What made me think of it was a two-hit game Frank German pitched for Notre Dame Hounds a few days ago. Wait until Mr. Wrigley hears about that !