1949 ... the fabulous Brandon Greys

1949 Stats
1949 Rosters
1949 Tournaments
1949 St. Louis Black Cardinals  

     
SASKATCHEWAN
SASKATOON & DISTRICT LEAGUE
Delisle Commodores 15 4  
Colonsay Monarchs 11 8 4.0
N-Battleford Beavers 10 10 5.5
Saskatoon Legion 9 12 7.0
Prince Albert Veterans 8 13 8.0
Saskatoon Cubs  7 13 8.5
1949 Game Reports
1949 Photo Gallery 
1949 Snapshots  
1949 Colonsay Monarchs
1949 Delisle Commodores 
       
SOUTHERN LEAGUE      
Regina Caps 16 4  
Moose Jaw Canucks 12 6 3.0
Wilcox Cardinals 8 6 5.0
Weyburn Beavers 8 8 6.0
Notre Dame Hounds 7 10 7.5
Regina Red Sox 0 17 14.5
1949 Game Reports
1949 Photo Gallery      
1949 Snapshots  
1949 Marquis Cubs
       
BATTLE RIVER LEAGUE 
Cut Knife, Lashburn, Lloydminster, Maidstone, Marsden, Neilburg, Waseca
       
NORTHEASTERN SK LEAGUE
NESBL History
       
GARRY LEAGUE
Sheho Red Sox , Springside , Theodore , Willowbrook , Yorkton Cardinals
       
BORDER LEAGUE
Ambrose , Bowbells , Columbus , Crosby , Estevan Maple Leafs , Lignite , Noonan , Portal Internationals
1949 Buchanan / SF Sea Lions  
1940s-1950s Notre Dame Hounds
       
ALBERTA
BIG FOUR
     
Edmonton Cubs
62
34
 
Edmonton Eskimos
55
38
5.5
Calgary Purity 99
44
50
17
Calgary Buffaloes
26
65
33.5
1949 Game Reports 
1949 Alberta Photo Gallery 
1949 Snapshots
1949 Edmonton Chevrolet Cubs  
1949 Edmonton Eskimos 
       
BIG SIX (ALBERTA)      
Lethbridge Miners 17 2 .895
Burdett-Bow Island Combines 11 7 .611
Medicine Hat Tigers 12 8 .600
Lethbridge Reos 8 12 .400
Picture Butte Royals 7 13 .350
Brooks Buffaloes 2 15 .118
1949 Game Reports 

NORTHERN ALBERTA
1949 Game Reports
 
SOUTHERN ALBERTA
Foremost, Taber, New Dayton, Magrath Eagles
 
WHEATBELT LEAGUE
Vulcan Elks, Carmangay Eagles, Champion, Barons
       
FOOTHILLS (NORTHERN) LEAGUE
High River, Nanton, Okotoks, Turner Valley
       
FOOTHILLS (SOUTHERN) LEAGUE
Claresholm Bears, McLeod, Parkland Midways, Stavely
       
SUGAR BELT LEAGUE
Barnwell (TBC), Coaldale, Lethbridge, Magrath Evaks, Picture Butte Blurbirds, Raymond Busseis
       
CROW'S NEST PASS LEAGUE
Coleman Cubs, Blairmore CCs, Natal-Michel Red Sox, Kimberley Elks, Hillcrest Miners
       
MANITOBA
MANITOBA SENIOR LEAGUE      
Brandon Greys  28 4  
Elmwood Giants  19 10 7.5
Carman Cardinals 14 13 11.5
Winnipeg Vets 8 21 18.5
Winnipeg Winnipegs 4 25 22.5
(Brandon defeated Elmwood 4 games to 3 in the best-of-seven final to win the league title for the 2nd straight season.)

GREATER WINNIPEG SENIOR LEAGUE
CUAC, Selkirk, St. Boniface, St. James, Transcona
 
1949 Game Reports/Playoffs
1949 Photo Gallery
1949 Snapshots
1949 Brandon Greys
1949 Carman Cardinals
 
WESTERN MANITOBA
Bowsman, Dauphin, Gilbert Plains, Grandview, Neepawa
1949 Game Reports
 
WINNIPEG NISEI LEAGUE
Diamond Sox, Flyers, Kayos, Maroons
 
BRITISH COLUMBIA
VANCOUVER SENIOR LEAGUE 
Tigers*, Vancouver Athletic Club, Westerns, West Vancouver   * Champions
       
KINGSWAY SENIOR LEAGUE 
Collingwood, Grandview Chiefs*, New Westminster Luckies, Steveston Hotel, South Burnaby Athletics, 300 Transfer
       
VANCOUVER INDUSTRIAL LEAGUE 
Boilermakers, Longshoremen*, Pacific Dry Dock, Western Bridge
       
FRASER VALLEY LEAGUE 
Agassiz, Chilliwack, Langley A's, Langley Cubs, RCSME
       
VICTORIA SENIOR LEAGUE 
Boosters, Eagles, Navy, Pitzer & Nex
       
NANAIMO INTERMEDIATE LEAGUE   
City Taxi, Nut Shop, Southend
       
COMOX DISTRICT LEAGUE 
Campbell River Athletics, Comox Valley Tigers, Courtenay Legion, Courtenay Young Liberals, Cumberland Cubs, Cumberland Robins
       
OKANAGAN INTERNATIONAL LEAGUE
Coulee Dam WA
14
3
Kelowna Red Sox
12
5
2.0
Kamloops Legion
12
6
2.5
Oliver
10
8
4.5
Omak WA
10
8
4.5
Penticton
9
9
5.5
Brewster WA
8
10
6.5
Bridgeport WA
8
10
6.5
Tonasket WA
6
12
8.5
Oroville WA
0
18
14.5
       
BC INTERIOR LEAGUE
Northern : Kamloops, Revelstoke, Rutland Cubs, Salmon Arm, Vernon, Winfield
Southern :  Copper Mountain, Peachland, Princeton, Rutland Adanacs, Summerland
       
CENTRAL/NORTHERN INTERIOR LEAGUE Giscome, Pollards, Quesnel, Timbars, Vanderhoof, West Lake, Willow River
       
ALCAN LEAGUE 
Dawson Creek Cardinals, Dawson Creek Legionnaires, Fort St. John Air Force, Pouce Coupe
       
SLOCAN-ARROW LAKES LEAGUE
Nakusp, New Denver, Silverton, Slocan City, Winlaw
       
1949 Vancouver Game Reports   
1949 BC Interior Game Reports 
1949 Vancouver Island Game Reports 
1949 BC Photo Gallery  
1949 BC Snapshots 
1949 Victoria Eagles   
1949 Victoria Athletics     
1949 New Denver     
       
ONTARIO
INTERCOUNTY LEAGUE
Brantford Red Sox, Galt Terriers, Guelph Maple Leafs, Kitchener Legionnaires, London Majors, St. Thomas Legion, Stratford Nationals, Waterloo Tigers
       
WESTERN TORONTO SENIOR LEAGUE
Mahers, Mayfairs, Westerns, West Yorks
       
TORONTO VIADUCT LEAGUE 
Oakville Oaks, Simpson Fords, Sportsman Legion, Staffords, Uniques
       
TORONTO NISEI LEAGUE
Bums, Busseis, Cardinals, Club TNT, Danforth Cleaners, Hurricanes, Queen City, Rovers
       
HAMILTON NISEI LEAGUE
Aces Cards, Cubs, Schmoos
       
LAKEHEAD SENIOR LEAGUE 
Army-Navy-AirForce, Great Lakes Lumber, Fort William Nisei, Port Arthur Giants, Port Arthur Navy
1949 Ontario Game Reports         
1949 Ontario Photo Gallery
  
1949 Ontario Snapshots    
1949 Hamilton Niseis
   
1949 Oakville Oaks   
       
QUEBEC
MONTREAL CITY LEAGUE

Excel Bakeries, Lachine Lamos, Mt.Royal Canadians, Niseis, St. Aloysius, Taximen (11 teams)
       
MONTREAL NISEIS 
Cubs, Dodgers, Giants
1949 Montreal Niseis 
       
MINNESOTA      
SOUTHERN MINNY LEAGUE
Austin Packers
28
7
Rochester Royals
21
14
7.0
Faribault Lakers
18
15
9.0
Albert Lea Packers
17
18
11.0
Mankato Merchants
16
19
12.0
Owatonna Aces
14
21
14.0
Winona Chiefs
12
22
15.5
Waseca Bluejays
12
22
15.5
1949 So. Minny Game Reports    
1949 Minnesota Photo Gallery 
 
1949 Minnesota Snapshots   
1949 Winona Chiefs   
1949 Austin Packers  
       
       
       

 

 

How prophetic.  Writing in the Brandon Sun, late in the 1948 season, H.L. Crawford noted:

For one thing is certain now, Brandon will be represented in 1949 by a club as strong or stronger than the Greys this year. And brother, that's some team!

A quick start

On May 21st, 1949 the Brandon Greys opened the season sweeping a twin-bill in Winnipeg. 

It was the beginning of one of the most remarkable baseball campaigns on the prairies.  113 days later, the Greys would end a 108-game season with a victory in Minot.  It brought their record to 87 wins, 18 losses and 3 ties.

Ian LoweAlong the way, playing-manager Ian Lowe led his charges to success after success - the pennant in the Manitoba Senior League, to a thrilling playoff victory, the title in an exhibition series with Minot, and exhibition wins over traveling clubs such as the Ligon All-Stars, Brooklyn Cuban Giants, Muskogee Cardinals, St. Louis Black Cardinals, and San Francisco Sea Lions. 

Greys entered nine tournaments and won top prize money in six and tied for first in another. (Photo of Ian Lowe courtesy of Lil Lowe)

A note in the Brandon Sun: 

Frank Watkins"Twenty years from now you'll recall your greatest baseball game.  And it's a sure thing you'll talk about the night of Sept. 6, 1949, when the Brandon Greys beat Elmwood Giants in a 15-inning thriller." 

Canadian right-hander, Manitoba native, Frank Watkins (above right) was both the pitching and hitting star of the championship game. 

Brandon wins

Rafe CabreraRamon RodriguezAn offensive sparkplug for the Greys was Rafe Cabrera (right) who batted .316 and played in all 108 games.  Cabrera led the club with 129 runs, 13 homers and 89 runs batted in. Ian Lowe, had the best average, .336. 

Catcher Ramon Rodriguez (left) led the club (and likely topped all teams in Western Canada) with  54 stolen bases. 

Another one-hitter

 

 

Winslow MeansDirk Gibbons
The Greys featured outstanding pitching.  Walter Dirk "Bubblegum" Gibbons (left), a righthander, won 19 of 24 decisions and led the club with 229 strikeouts.  He had a pair of one-hitters and fanned 18 in a single game. 

Strikeout machine

Southpaw Winslow Means (right) finished at 18-4 and fanned 218, including 18 in a single game (a mark later tied by Gibbons).  Means had a 7-inning, perfect game at the Indian Head tournament and also had a one-hitter.

Armando VasquezHomebrew Frank Watkins, who won 17 and lost just 3, was the hero of the playoffs as he not only pitched the 15 inning finale but drove in the winning run.  Armando Vasquez (right) splitting time between first base and the mound, was a winner in 12 of 13 decisions. 

Kinsmen Stadium, BrandonLeft - Action at Brandon's home field -- Kinsmen Memorial Stadium.  See the larger versions in the Snapshots section. (Photo courtesy of Lil Lowe) 

 

Greater Winnipeg SkedManitoba also had a top notch senior circuit, the Greater Winnipeg Senior League with Selkirk, St. James, St. Boniface, Transcona and CUAC (Canadian Ukranian Athletic Club.

1949 marked the initial tour by the California Mohawks.  The club, mainly California college kids, would return as a barnstorming unit in 1950 before playing as the Medicine Hat Mohawks in the Western Canada League in 1951. At least two of the Mohawks -- infielder Pumpsie Greene and pitcher Curt Barclay -- went on to major league careers.

For the second consecutive season, the powerful Regina Caps captured the Southern League pennant only to be bounced in the playoff finals, this time by the Moose Jaw Purity Canucks. Wilcox Cardinal outfielder Clint Squires captured the 1949 batting crown with a .368 average. Portsider Cliff "Lefty" Harrison of the Caps led all chuckers with a 7 - 1 mark.


Wayne StephensonIt was quite a summer for Wayne "Wimpy" Stephenson who, among other things, was the only non-black to suit up with an American touring team (see the link above to the St. Louis Black Cardinals) :

 " ... I was playing with the Swift Current Indians at the time (1949). They put a pretty good team in that league with Estevan, Regina, Moose Jaw, all through there. Pretty well the whole team was imported  ... and they ran into financial difficulties about the end of June so there was an exhibition game against the St. Louis Black Cardinals ...  after the game, I beat them that night, about a 2-1 ball game,  I noticed there was only ten guys sitting on the bench so I went over to them and I said  gee, I'm out of a job as of tonight. This is the last fund-raiser to help Swift Current pay a few bills and I said, sort of as a joke, do you guys need another chucker for the rest of the summer? The guy said, if you can be ready by eight o'clock tomorrow morning, that's when the bus leaves, be on it and you're part of the team. It just happened that quick you know."

" ... Payday was immediately after the game and we split it ten ways. Whatever it was, you got paid every day,  no salary or nothing, split the gate ... we came pretty close to winning it in the big ball tournament in Lacombe and that was a little bit bigger pay day but you know your pay in those years would be anywhere from six bucks to fifteen to maybe whatever on any given day. Old man Cobb out of San Antonio he was the manager and owner of the club and he paid the hotel bill and everybody looked after their own meals and every once in awhile you'd stop and get a little dry cleaning done if you had a rainy day or whatever.  Most of the time you were in that bloody bus trying to make the next tournament."

The grand adventure ended in late summer at the US border crossing:

" ...  At the end of the season, the Cardinals are going to Minot. We went to Estevan and we stopped at Portal, which is the border crossing, and just innocently pulled up to the border because we had plenty of time to get to Minot for the evening contest. This is when the customs guy pulled me aside and said you have no idea what you are about to do heading off to play a cross-country tour with a coloured club and end up, supposedly heading for winter ball in Puerto Rico.  He detained me so long, fingerprints and every excuse they could find to try to instill in me that at 19 years of age you'd better not be thinking you're going to survive crossing the states. Somebody will either shoot you or knife you particularly in Florida and the southern states. And, the club couldn't wait because they had to be in Minot to play. So that was the end of it. Off went the gloves, spikes and clothing and I hitch-hiked back to Rosetown in my shirt sleeves."

Stephenson (on the origin of his nickname, taken from a Popeye cartoon character with a passion for hamburgers)  :

" ...I think it started in about grade five.  Somebody took me to the bigger town and we got introduced to hamburgers for the first time and I had two or three of them and they started to call me Wimpy from that day on.  Funny how it sticks with you."


Marvin Ligon, of The Ligon All-Stars (on a 1949 crowd in Regina) :

"I remember one big day in Regina ... we were playing the Capitals and the park was full of fans.  I realized later that they were there to see Barbara Ann Scott who had won the gold medal in figure skating in the 1948 Winter Olympics.  If that wasn't big enough, she used my glove to go out and throw the first pitch and I didn't even get her autograph."


1949 Buchanan All-StarsNot all of the touring clubs met success. 

The San Francisco Sea Lions decided to so some exploring on their own. This item, from Regina, was carried in the New York Times:

"Harold Morris, owner of the San Francisco Sea Lions, touring Negro baseball team, was a troubled man when he arrived here today -- minus his ball team.

He said his players jumped the club and signed to play with the Buchanan, Sask., All-Stars for the remainder of the season.

The only "player" Morris has left is Sammy Workman, an armless and legless performer who has been traveling with the team. The Sea Lions have permission from the United States Immigration Department to stay in Canada until the end of August, Morris said.  A move, however, now is under way to have the players deported to the United States for jumping their bond, he added." (New York Times, June 30, 1949)

Dick Werthern
The Muskogee Cardinals were among the barnstorming teams on the prairies in the late 1940s and early 1950s. 

The Cardinals claimed to a record of 53-33 on their 1948 Canadian tour. 

Right-hander Richard Werthern (right) was to be a mainstay of the 1949 squad.  He was reported to have turned down an offer from the Cleveland Buckeyes of the Negro-American League to suit up with the travelling Cardinals.  Barnstorming teams, highly popular in Western Canada in the 1930s, began to return after the Second World War as economic prosperity followed followed some dark times for residents of Canada and the United States.


Fore !  Players had to be doubly careful during games in Stavely, Alberta. 

" ... Several times during the game, golfers encroached on and interfered with plays in the outfield.  In the first of the ninth, one golfer was in the field as far as short and second base, while several were in short center.  They interfered and were the cause of two miscues and might have cost Stavely the game. There should be a distinct understanding and adherence to same, between the golfing and baseball managements before someone gets hurt." (The Claresholm Local Press, June 2, 1949)

The Stavely Juniors came from behind with an eagle, make that five runs, in the bottom of the ninth to top Claresholm 16-15 after Claresholm had taken a 15-11 lead with five markers in the top of the ninth.


Ralph Buxton
 In 1949, Canadian right-hander Ralph Buxton (born in Rainton, SK, near Regina) was back in the major leaguers with the New York Yankees. 

He had made his debut in the majors in 1938 with Philadelphia.  In between, he had an outstanding career in the Pacific Coast League with Oakland. 

Overall, he pitched in 19 games in MLB, all in relief.