Western Canada Baseball 1954
1954 Stats  
1954 Rosters
1954 Tournaments 
1954 Taber Merchant Juniors

     
SASKATCHEWAN
SASKATCHEWAN LEAGUE
     
Saskatoon Gems
43
17
North Battleford Beavers
31
28
11.5
Rosetown Phillies
30
30
13.0
Indian Head Rockets
29
31
14.0
Moose Jaw Mallards
24
35
18.5
Lloydminster Meridians
22
38
21.0
1954 Game Reports   
1954 Playoffs  
1954 Photo Gallery 
1954 Snapshots
1954 Lloydminster Team Photos
1954 Saskatoon Gems
1954 North Battleford Beavers 
1954 Rosetown Phillies 
       
SOUTHERN LEAGUE      
Moose Jaw Lakers
20
5
Weyburn Beavers
14
12
6.5
Assiniboia Aces
13
13
7.5
Notre Dame Hounds
13
13
7.5
Regina Royal Caps
12
14
8.5
Regina Red Sox
12
14
8.5
Bienfait-Estevan Coalers
10
15
10.0
Avonlea Arrows
3
11
11.5
1954 Game Reports 
1954 Photos Gallery 
1954 Moose Jaw Lakers 
     
       
NORTHEASTERN SK LEAGUE
NESBL History
     
       
ALBERTA
FOOTHILLS-WHEATBELT LEAGUE
Vulcan Legionaires
12
2
Granum White Sox
10
4
2.0
Lethbridge Cubs
9
5
3.0
Carmangay Eagles
9
5
3.0
Claresholm Meteors
6
8
6.0
Champion
5
9
7.0
Stavely
3
11
9.0
Nanton Palominos
2
12
10.0
1954 Game Reports/Playoffs/Tourneys
1954 Photo Gallery
1954 Snapshots
1954 Carmangay Eagles
1954 Nanton Palominos
 
BIG SIX LEAGUE
Picture Butte
14
6
Taber
12
8
2.0
Spring Coulee
11
9
3.0
Magrath Eagles
9
11
5.0
Lethbridge Niseis
8
12
6.0
Raymond
6
14
8.0
 
SUNSHINE LEAGUE
Shelby, Warner, Milk River, Wrentham, Stirling Lions, New Dayton Rovers, Coaldale, Sunburst, Coutts
       
NORTHERN ALBERTA
1954 Game Reports
1954 Beverly Edmonton Drakes
       
MANITOBA
MANDAK LEAGUE
     
Minot Mallards
47
21
Brandon Greys
39
32
9.5
Williston Oilers
28
40
19.0
Carman Cardinals
24
45
23.5
1954 Game Reports/Playoffs
1954 Photo Gallery
1954 ManDak Snapshots
1954 Minot Mallards
     
       
GREATER WINNIPEG SENIOR LEAGUE
St. Boniface Native Sons, Transcona Railroaders, C.U.A.C. Blues, St. Vital, St. James Legion
       
MANITOBA-SASKATCHEWAN MISC.
1954 Game Reports
1954 Photo Gallery
1954 Snapshots
1954 Yorkton Cardinals
1954 Kamsack Cyclones
       
1954 Fort Whyte Tournament Team
1954 Foam Lake Falcons
       
BRITISH COLUMBIA
VANCOUVER & DISTRICT SENIOR "A"
Collingwood
28
12
Marpole
24
15
3.5
Whalley
23
17
5.0
West Vancouver
21
18
6.5
New Westminster
18
22
10.0
North Vancouver dropped out near the end of the regular schedule.
       
VANCOUVER INDUSTRIAL LEAGUE
Nisei
21
14
43
CYO
20
14
42
Western Bridge
19
14
41
Longshoremen
19
17
38
Boilermakers
8
28
26
The point totals include ties.
Longshoremen won the playoffs for the league championship.
       
NORTHWEST SEMI-PRO LEAGUE
Bellingham, Blaine Boosters, Blaine Ramblers, Burnaby, Deming, Oak Harbor
       
DEWDNEY LEAGUE
Coquitlam, Maillardville, Mission, Port Moody
       
FRASER VALLEY LEAGUE 
Abbotsford, Agassiz, Chilliwack, Cloverdale, Fort Langley, Harrison Mills, Langley, Sea Island RCAF.
       
INTERIOR LEAGUE
Kamloops Jay-Rays, Kelowna Chiefs, North Kamloops Mohawks, Okanagan Bluebirds, Revelstoke Spikes, Rutland Adanacs, Vernon Silver Stars
       
MID-ISLAND SENIOR AMATEUR LEAGUE
Alberni Athletics, Chemainus Red Sox, Duncan Athletics, Nanaimo Sport Centres, Port Alberni Super-Valu Cubs
       
COMOX DISTRICT LEAGUE   
Campbell River Cougars, Comox RCAF, Comox Valley Tigers, Courtenay Legion, Powell River Rodmays, Union Bay Braves
       
OKANAGAN MAINLINE LEAGUE
Kamloops Okonots
17
6
Penticton Athletics
15
8
2.0
Oliver Elks
15
9
2.5
Kelowna Orioles
13
11
4.5
Summerland Macs
7
15
9.5
Princeton Royals
7
16
10.0
Vernon Canadians
6
15
10.0
1954 Vancouver Game Reports  
1954 BC Interior Game Reports  
1954 Vancouver Island Game Reports    
1954 BC Photo Gallery 
1954 BC Snapshots   
1954 Chemainus Red Sox    
       
BC-MONTANA LEAGUE 
Eureka MT, Fernie Falcons, Kalispell MT Chiefs, Libby MT, Natal-Michel Red Sox, Whitefish MT
       
ONTARIO      
INTERCOUNTY LEAGUE
Brantford Red Sox, Galt Terriers, Guelph-Waterloo Royals, Kitchener Panthers, London Majors, St. Thomas Elgins
1954 Game Reports   
1954 Photo Gallery  
1954 St.Thomas Elgins       
       
WEST TORONTO SENIOR LEAGUE
Brants, Industrial Lumber, Mahers, Westerns
       
VIADUCT-ONTARIO MAJOR LEAGUE
Belleville, Dependables, Hoskings, Oakville, Oshawa, Peterborough
       
SOUTH DAKOTA / NEBRASKA
BASIN LEAGUE      
Chamberlain Chiefs      
Huron Elks      
Mitchell Kernels      
Pierre Cowboys      
Valentine Hearts
     
Watertown Lake Sox      
Winner Pheasants      
Yankton Terrys
     
* Huron Elks captured the league title
1954 Game Reports  
1954 Photo Gallery 
1954 Huron Elks 
1954 Valentine Hearts
 
MINNESOTA
SOUTHERN MINNESOTA  LEAGUE
Albert Lea Packers
26
18
Rochester Royals
25
19
1.0
Faribault Lakers 
25
19
1.0
Mankato Merchants
24
20
2.0
Owatonna Aces
22
22
4.0
Waseca Braves
22
22
4.0
Austin Packers
20
24
6.0
Winona Chiefs
12
32
14.0
1954 Minnesota Shapshots   
1954 Minnesota Photo Gallery   
1954 Albert Lea Packers         
1954 Stillwater Loggers 
       
 
       

 

. . .  A Team Of Our Own

Lloydminster MeridiansThe Saskatchewan Baseball League

The Lloydminster Meridians, 1954.   Finally, a team of our own. 

They came from college, high school, the minor leagues, Cuba, California, Montana, Idaho, Illinois, and Canada (catcher Eddie Tanner from BC would become a fixture with the team).  (A couple of players, Johnny Ford and Max Weekly, would be recruited to pour cement to finish the dugouts in time for opening day.)

Ford & Weekly

In a pre-season luncheon Ford (centre) and Weekly (right) were greeted by Ted Mitchell a director of the Lloydminster club. 

The Crown Life baseball schedule (above)  put the new Saskatchewan Baseball League on the same pages with the Major Leagues, the Northern League and the South Saskatchewan loop.  

It was Lloydminster's first real taste of the semi-pro action.  Other centres (such as North Battleford and Saskatoon) had long histories with semi-pro baseball and, especially, tournament ball.

Slim Thorpe & Roberto ZayasLeft - Club executive Slim Thorpe welcomed Cuban recruit Roberto Zayas.

(Photo courtesy Lloydminster 2003, www.lloydminster.net

Six teams lined up for the opening season:  Saskatoon Gems (under Ralph Mabee as general manager), North Battleford Beavers (Jackie McLeod playing-manager), Rosetown Phillies (Benny Hill playing-manager), Indian Head Rockets (Jose "Hippy" Hernandez playing-manager), Moose Jaw Mallards (with football and baseball All-American Larry Isbell as manager --  see below) and the Meridians (with Bob Linck at the helm). 

Lloydminster away jersey "Two sets of uniforms have been secured by the club; one pearl grey with red trimmings for the away-from-home games, with Lloydminster across the front, and for the games in the Legion Sportsman's Park they will wear white uniforms with a green strip on the front, of which will be Meridians." (Lloydminster Times)

Chuck McGuigan

Left: Chuck McGuigan in the 1954 home uniform. Above : the road grey jersey.

Just about everything went wrong for the Meridians. The Lloydminster Times reported : 

"Everything imaginable plagued the baseball club this past year.  A freak automobile injury to the coach, bad weather, and the handicap of a smaller population to draw upon ...". 

Bad things started early. 

Bob LinckIt was just weeks before the first game when Coach Bob Linck (right) was seriously hurt in a car crash.  

1954 DebutIn the opening game, May 19th, at Legion Sportsman's Park before about 800 fans, the Meridians were thumped 13-3 by the North Battleford Beavers.  Lefty Max Weekly was pounded for 12 runs in just three innings of work.  The Meridians made 10 errors. Only five of the regular starters were on hand for opening day. Five days later, Weekly would toss a two-hit shutout as the Meridians beat Rosetown Phillies (a "colored team" according to the Lloydminster Times) 2-0.  Weekly struck out 10.  

Meridians winThere was some sunshine, including a miracle ending as the Meridians won their own tournament and the $1,450 first prize. They beat Saskatoon 4-3 in 13 innings in the final.  Weekly was the hero.  He came on in relief in the 5th inning with one out and the bases loaded.  He limited the Gems to just two hits the rest of the way. Meridians also won the Rosetown Tournament and were runners-up in the Saskatoon Exhibition event.

In the regular, rain-soaked, season Meridians finished dead last with just 22 wins in 60 games. Weekly was among the bright spots. He led the league in strikeouts with 103.

The financial situation wasn't any brighter than the final standings.. The club finished with a deficit of $12,427.  Total revenues came to $14,343.50 with gate receipts accounting for $9,475 and tournament prize money adding $4,050.  The summer's operations cost $26, 770.76. 

The Times described the season as "an adventure in ball which was packed with high hopes, fraught with disappointments, plagued with poor weather, and hounded with financial reverses."  In December, a Times headline announced there would be no team in 1955.


Saskatoon ran away with the regular season title finishing 11 1/2 games ahead of 2nd place North Battleford.  But, in the playoffs, the Beavers won a controversial final.  

North Battleford stationeryNorth Battleford had won the first game of the final series 5-4 in 13 innings.  Saskatoon bounced back to win the 2nd game 3-2.  However, the Beavers protested that the Gems had used an ineligible player.  The protest was upheld and the game ordered replayed.  

The Beavers won the next two to go up 3-0, but the Gems came back with three in a row before North Battleford took the deciding game 3-2.  It was the Beavers' fourth consecutive Saskatchewan championship.

It was a season in which the Beavers fired Jackie McLeod as playing manager in July then convinced McLeod to rejoin the team for the playoffs.  McLeod was the hero in the deciding game as he tossed a 7-hitter for the victory.  In between, McLeod suited up with Moose Jaw at the Rosetown Tournament and beat the Beavers 5-4 in a first round game.

Ted EllisCurtis TateThe '54 campaign also saw Curtis Tate (left) notch 10 runs batted in in a single game, Percy Trimont (bottom left) have a five-for-five day which included a homer and three triples, Max Weekly lead the league in strikeouts with 103, Ted Ellis, right  (star of the Indian Head Tournament) claim three pitching wins on the same day, Ted Wills come within one batter of a no-hitter,  a player banished for a whole year for taking a swing at an umpire, Saskatoon play nine games in two days, Lloydminster pull off a hidden-ball trick so well even the umps missed it, the league president who quit with the parting worlds "They'll never get me in another mess like this.", a Percy Trimontshortstop who made seven errors in one game, and rain, lots of rain.  In a playoff game, Saskatoon pulled off a bases-loaded triple steal.  Leopoldo Reyes scored from third, Jose Valladares moved to third and Ted Wills took second.  Mario Herrera added three steals as the Gems had seven in total.


Cliff Pemberton1954 marked the debut of one of the league's most colourful characters.  But, in the beginning, nobody wanted him very much!  Cliff Pemberton had brought his family to Moose Jaw in July of '54 following a request from a friend that he join the team.  However, when he arrived the manager made it clear he had no where to play the 'ol Redhead.  

He got into just two games for the Mallards before being loaned to Saskatoon. Pemberton had a triple in his first at bat with the Gems and never looked back. He won three batting titles in his eight years in the league.


Ted Wills Collins JonesSergio FabreTed Wills (far left), a pitcher-outfielder with Saskatoon, hit .336 to edge Moose Jaw's Collins Jones (right) for the batting title.  On the mound, Sergio Fabre (near left) of the Indian Head Rockets went 10-0. Don Kirk of Saskatoon won 11 of 12 decisions in the regular season and tacked on two more wins in the playoffs.  Wills, who won five games during the regular season, was superb in the playoffs with three complete game victories, including a one-hit shutout and a two-hit shutout.


Reg Chopp of Moose Jaw was the lone Canadian to be selected to the All-Star team.  Chopp, from Winnipeg, finished as the league's fifth best hitter.

c Bob Bennett, Sask; 1b Jesse Blackman NB; 2b Jose Valladares, Sask; 3b Curtis Tate, NB; ss Chico O'Farrill, NB; lf Collins Jones, MJ; cf Mario Herrera, Sask; rf Reg Chopp, MJ; p Ted Wills, Sask; p Bennie Griggs, Sask.

All-Stars selected to play against the Saskatoon Gems:

c Lou Green NB, Dick Loe MJ, 1b Reg Jackson RT, Jesse Blackman NB, 2b Art Stone NB, Chuck McGuigan Lloyd, 3b Johnny Ford Lloyd, Curtis Tate NB, ss Chico O'Farrill NB, Harold Johnson RT, lf Collin Jones MJ, Felton Morrison RT, cf Ken Nelson NB, Howard Warfield RT, rf Reg Chopp MJ, Roy Dean NB, p Ed Kapp NB, Max Weekly Lloyd, Boyd Brown RT, Jose Hernandez IH, Pancho Gray MJ.


Jack DevineBob ChapmanA new Southern League entry, the Moose Jaw Lakers, dominated the 1954 regular season campaign, finishing with a healthy six and a half game margin over the runner-up Weyburn Beavers.

The Lakers' second baseman, Bob Chapman, (left) took the batting crown by collecting 41 safe blows in 110 official at-bats for a .372 average. His teammate, righthander Jack Devine, (right) boasted the best winning percentage on the hill by posting a 5 - 1 record for an .833 grading.

In an exciting best-of-five final, the fifth and deciding game delayed for 18 days with the advent of torrential rains and wet grounds, the Lakers capped a highly successful league debut by dumping the Beavers to take all the playoff marbles.


Vulcan Elks 1954In Southern Alberta, the Vulcan Elks behind import lefty Jack Altman breezed to a 12-2 finish to win the pennant in the Foothills-Wheatbelt League. However, Granum walked off with the league title upsetting the Elks in the final round of the playoffs. Granum went on to win the Alberta title with a win over Edmonton. It was the first of a long string of successes by George Wesley's teams.  

No-hitter

Another no-no 

The regular season featured three no-hitters, by Altman, Willie Walasko and Bill Kucheran.  There was offense too.  On the final day of the regular schedule, Granum "shaded" Nanton 31-1.      

In the two major Alberta tournaments,  Spokane Builders won the Lethbridge Rotary event and Brooks Buffaloes won top prize at Lacombe.

Jack Altman : "Pete Beiden (Fresno State coach) arranged for us to come up to Vucan.  We used to wait around with bated breath in the spring to find out if he was going to have openings for us.  He called all the shots."   

If it seemed as if Altman was always at the ballpark.  And, it was pretty well the case.  From February through to the end of November,  the 19-year-old lefty played for seven teams compiling a 32-11 record in 365 1/3 innings.  (See : Portrait of a Young Arm, 1954)

Mandak adMinot Mallards were champions of the ManDak League for the third straight season.  Mallards won the pennant during the regular schedule then beat Brandon in the playoff final.  

Roy WeatherlyFormer major leaguer Roy Weatherly (right) of Williston hit .412 to win the batting crown. Sugar Cain of Minot had the best pitching record, 11-1, and led in strikeouts with 98. Neil Lettau, also of Minot, had the most wins, 13. 


A three-homer day is rare.  A three-homer day on your birthday?  Don Stewart, who would be joining the Meridians in 1955, belted three homers and a single on July 11th, his 24th birthday, as Brandon defeated Carman 16-10 in a ManDak League contest.  His wife-to-be was in the stands.


Larry IsbellMoose Jaw's manager (at least for the first part of the season before football got underway) was Larry Isbell, an All-American quarterback in football (1951) and All-American catcher in baseball (1952) at Baylor University in Texas. 

Isbell, who finished seventh in the voting for the Heisman Trophy in 1951, was the first draft pick of the Washington Redskins in 1952.  Instead, he went into baseball, right to Triple-A with Louisville of the American Association where, in parts of two seasons, he hit .286 and .317.  

In 1954, Isbell returned to football with the Saskatchewan Roughriders and carved out an all-star career as a pass receiver, defensive back and punter (left-footed).  Isbell, a member of Regina's Plaza of Honour, was inducted into the Texas Sports Hall of Fame in February, 2001. 


Jack HannahJack Hannah, was among the first wave of California kids from to trek to the Canadian prairies for a summer season. Hannah, still in high school, suited up with Roy Taylor's Saskatoon 55s in 1951 and in '54 had a summer of ball with Marshall in the Western Minny League. 

" ... When Jack Hannah arrived in Marshall for the 1954 Western Minny League season, he attained almost instant celebrity. Marshall always treated their college baseball visitors special, but the Fresno State right-hander offered a little extra to the southwestern Minnesota town. “He took the town by storm,” Minnesota baseball legend Jerry Kindall said. “He was a tall, blonde, blue-eyed guy from California . . . a heart throb, but he certainly wasn’t a hot dog. While he never reached the big leagues, he did make it to AAA professional ball, and he became an outstanding high school coach.” Hannah went 6-1 for Marshall in 1954, with a 3.86 ERA. He combined with Ohio State All American Paul Ebert, who went 8-4, to form a potent starting duo ... The Marshall Baseball Association paid Hannah $250 per month to take care of Legion Field."  (From Glory Days, a history of amateur baseball in Minnesota)