1967 turned out to be a high point for Canadian baseball, although it was a frightening and disheartening journey to get there. (See Dave Shury's story in Wheat Province Diamonds for the full story.)
Canada was hosting the 1967 Pan Am Games in Winnipeg and for the first time it was hoped to have a Canadian baseball team in the event. Just months before the games, there was no team. A lack of organization, money and commitment had forced Canadian Pan Am officials to drop baseball from the program. However a small group of enthusiasts (with Dave Shury a prominent force) got baseball reinstated and managed, with great difficulty, to put together a team to represent the country.
There was a major problem. Four of the players were deemed to be professionals under the Pan Am rules in spite of all having been reinstated as amateurs in their home provinces. All were key members of the team - pitcher Ron Stead of Guelph, catcher Bob McKillop and second baseman Ron Smith of Kitchener and pitcher John Elias of Montreal. (Another ex-pro, catcher Ed Tanner, is in the Pan-Am photo, but there is no record of whether he played in the games.) Canada went ahead anyway, hoping they might slip under the radar.
On July 24th, Canada made its debut against Mexico and while out-hitting the Mexicans 8 to 5, dropped a 3-1 decision on three costly errors. At Carman the following night, Ross Stone of Saskatoon and John Elias pitched Canada to a 2-1 win over Puerto Rico. The jubilation on the bus ride back to Winnipeg was tempered by the realization the win might force authorities to take a closer look at the Canadian roster. A Canadian sportswriter broke the story.
Facing expulsion from the event, instead Canada was ordered to drop the four players without the ability to replace them. In addition, the win over Puerto Rico was stricken from the record. A downcast and short-handed group then went on to lose 14-10 to the Americans, 5-2 to Puerto Rico, and 6-4 to Cuba.
Canada's final game was against the undefeated and highly favoured Cubans. Down 4-0 in the early innings, Canada rallied behind home runs by Larry Wilson of Hamiota, Manitoba and Maurice Oakes of Brandon and took a 7-4 lead in the 3rd inning. They hung on to score a huge upset, 10-9, victory. The Americans went on to win the championship.
The Govan, Saskatchewan, Angels won the Western Canada Senior Championship whipping Peace River, Alberta, 9-3 Sunday (September 3) in the final after coming into the title game off the losers' side of the double-knockout competition. Robbie McLane hurled the final game win for the Angels with relief help from Merv Danbrook in the sixth inning. Pete Czuy took the loss. The key blow for the winners was a home run by Lorne Davis.
Earlier on the last day, Govan demolished Peace River 14-0 and Rivers Comets, 8-1.
Govan dropped their opener on Saturday (September 2) 3-0 to Rivers, the Manitoba champions. Wayne Ramsay fired the shutout for Rivers, besting Davis. Peace River topped Rivers 3-2 in 10 innings in Saturday's second game. On Sunday, Danbrook whiffed 12 in pitching Govan over Rivers. Reg Danbrook belted a homer.