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Update :  17 October, 2017

Roman RohRed Star    Time for a little side trip.

How could I not follow the trail of a pitcher of no-hitters who once played for a team called the Commies -- during the war years no less.

In searching for information on the Ligon All-Stars, a favourite barnstorming team in Western Canada, there was Carl "Roman" Roh hurling against the Ligon's in June, 1946. Roh fired a seven-inning no-hitter, racking up 16 strikeouts in blanking the tourists 5-0. 

The no-no by itself was eye catching, but his two previous starts for the Council Bluffs (Iowa) Browns were even more-so. He blanked the Audubon Cardinals 4-0 on a three-hitter with 17 strikeouts and no walks. Then he went the first six innings in a combined no-hitter against the touring San Antonio Giants.  In three games, 22 innings, he allowed a total of three hits, fanned 40 with no walks.

A week after his Ligon's no-hitter, Roh fashioned another no-hitter as Omaha Storz beat the Colonials in Community League action. And, four days after that, he carried a no-no into the ninth, losing the bid with two outs. Hard to imagine a pitcher having a better month than that !

Turns out Roh, a dentistry student at Creighton University, is in the Creighton Basketball Hall of Fame and in the Nebraska Baseball Hall of Fame.

Signed by the St. Louis Cardinals, Roh spend 1939-1941 in the low minors for the Cards with unremarkable results, 20-26 in his short pro career.  In 1941, he suited up for the Decatur Commodores, known in the local papers as the Commies. After military service during the war, Roh turned to semi-pro ball. Newspaper reports suggested he was paid $100 per game in the Nebraska Independent League.  Pretty good change for the time. He carved out a superb semi-pro career, mainly with the Omaha Storz and Council Bluffs right into the early 1950s.   He celebrated the new decade with a no-hitter in mid-July, 1950. 

Red Star   Before ace correspondent Rich Necker headed off to the operating theatre for knee replacement surgery he (with welcomed assistance from Redeye Ropertz) filled our in-basket with all kinds of goodies.  Of particular interest are the game reports.

Red Star   The summaries go back to 1908 and 1914 when we have a few game reports for the Calgary Amateur League.   The 1915 Alberta game reports provide insight into the Calgary Semi-Pro League, Calgary City League, Edmonton City League, Medicine Hat, Lethbridge and Northern Alberta. 

Rich's 1915  Manitoba reports include the Winnipeg Senior League, Western Manitoba, South Brandon, Grandview and The Pas. 

For Saskatchewan he's managed to dig out reports for Regina, Moose Jaw, Saskatoon, Melfort, Swift Current, Yorkton, Humboldt, and the Soo Line. 

And moving on to BC in 1915 there are summaries for the BC Interior, Vancouver Island, and Vancouver  itself.

And, we've added a 1915 Tournament page.

Red Star    Alberta gets more coverage in the 1921 game reports.

Red Star    And, on to the thirties, the 1937 Vancouver game reports are extensive as are the BC Interior summaries. There wasn't a lot of baseball activity on Vancouver Island but Sonny Walker seemed to do OK.

Red Star    BC Interior ball of 1938 gets full coverage with game reports from the semi-pro Okanogan Valley League (five American teams and Penticton), along with other Okanagan (yes, with another "a" and not the "o" as in the American spelling) baseball, including the South and Central regions.  There are game reports for the BC Interior League as well as ball in the West and East Kootenays.

Red Star    Of course, the roster pages expand with the additional material from above.

Red Star   We're happy to add more team photos, especially from the early years. There's one of the 1913 edition of the team from Nakusp, BC.

We've added the 1914 Calgary Amateur champions, the Athletics (with names too !).  Three 1915 team pics are now posted - Barons (with names), the Nanton nine, and the team from Beaumont. 

And, from 1921 there's the club from Burton, BC.

Thanks to Leah Seaman for a photo of the team from the Highland Bell mine in Beaverdell, BC. Her dad, Harry Seaman was a member of the club. We are still trying to track down more information on him. We know he worked in New Westminster at one time and also played up in Terrace. Also, Leah is going to see if it's possible to get a better version of the photo.  It's thought to be the 1936 team.

Andy BaxterJimmy EnrightRed Star   A few individual pictures are new additions - 1914 Photo Gallery -- Don Grant, Babe Reames; 1922 Alberta Photo Gallery -- Andy Baxter (left) and Jimmy Enright (right).

A couple of new Snapshots adorn the 1938 BC page, with Sonny Walker and Ray George of Victoria now posted. 

George joins Fats Richardson, Elmer McGahan in the Photo Gallery

Red Star    There's a little addition to our Minnesota coverage with a sketch and some information on Gabby Hormann, who played in several of the main loops we cover -- the Western Canada League, Basin League, Southern Minny League and Intercounty League.

Red Star    Thank you Phil !  Phil Risinger, the dandy little shortstop of the Medicine Hat Superiors (1957-1958), surprised with a DVD of some of baseball's legends.

Steve CottrellRed Star     We're so pleased to hear again from Steve Cottrell who's put pen to paper (or more likely these days, fingers to keyboard) to begin his SCATTERED FRAGMENTS: The Uneven Life of an Average Guy The Memoirs of Steve Cottrell. Steve spent a couple of summers in Southern Alberta in the lineup of the Vulcan, Alberta, Elks. He picks up the story after pitching batting practice for the San Francisco Giants at Candlestick Park in 1961, tossing to the likes of Willie Mays, Willie McCovey and Orlando Cepeda, but not winning a contract with the Giants.

I didn’t sign a D-League deal that day in 1961, but I soon received an offer that intrigued me. Former minor league pitcher Jack Altman, a teammate in 1960, called and said he could put me back on a baseball diamond in a matter of days –– and I’d get paid. That was the kind of news I was hoping for, and the offer was from a team in Alberta, Canada.

Visions of the snowcapped Canadian Rockies and Nelson Eddy cooing, “Oh, Rose Marie, I love you,” to Jeanette MacDonald as he paddled a canoe across Lake Louise, flashed on me. Alberta? You bet, Jack.

Little did I know, however, that the part of Alberta I was headed to was on the Great Plains, between Calgary and Lethbridge –– prairie land, flat as a pool table. But they had a baseball team in search of a pitcher and I was a pitcher in search of a team.

The next day, thanks to Jack’s intervention and interest, I headed for Vulcan, Alberta, Canada to play for a club willing to pay me fifty dollars a week along with providing a furnished apartment. (It was actually a small sleeping room upstairs at the Royal Canadian Legion building with a shared bathroom down the hall. But it was free).

Fifty bucks a week in Vulcan in 1961 was a decent sum, especially without rent or utility payments to deal with. A glass of beer at the Vulcan Hotel was a dime and a rib-eye steak with fries at the Royal Cafe on Centre Street was only a buck fifteen. For thirty-five cents I could go to the local movie theater and watch a double bill. And for a dime more, buy a big box of popcorn.

Fifty Canadian dollars had a lot of buying power in those days and I was being handed fifty dollars every week. Life was good.

I was a teenager being paid to play the game I loved. And although Vulcan, a farming and ranching community of about 1,200 salt-of-the-earth men and women, was a long way –– distance-wise and otherwise –– from San Francisco, where I had just thrown batting practice to three future hall-of-famers, I eventually fell in love with the town and its people.

I was confident I would have a great season in Canada and do well at spring training the following year. And if everything fell into place, I would be on a path leading back to Candlestick Park; the next time for real and not as a nameless batting practice pitcher.

Meanwhile, I was in Canada enjoying a summer of what used to be called Town Team baseball –– a vanishing breed of the game played for the pure joy of competing. In my case, of course, it was pure joy plus fifty bucks a week.


01 October, 2017

Elmer McGahanRed Star    Elmer McGahan Jr. of Long Beach, California turns out to be a centrepiece of the 1938 baseball season in the BC Interior now documented thanks to the continuing excellence of our Rich Necker in tracking down baseball information.

Just 17 years old, McGahan began the season in the Spring Training camp of the Hollywood Stars of the Pacific Coast League, where team officials made note of the youngsters superb curve ball. He had attracted the attention of the Stars from his outstanding season, including a no-hitter, pitching for Torrance High School. However, he was farmed out to Bellingham for seasoning and then ended up in Vancouver. He appeared in just one game, not getting out of the first inning, before landing with Penticton of the Okanogan Valley League (Penticton and five clubs from Washington) a month or so into his 18th year.

His final won-lost record, 8-7, was deceiving, as the left-hander lost a pair of 1-0 games and didn't have overwhelming offensive support. McGahan appeared in 15 games, 14 of them starts and he completed all of them. In 121 innings he racked up 168 strikeouts (stats for two games were not available).

He was back with Bellingham of the Western International League in 1939 but didn't appear in a regular season game. After military service, 1941-1945, during the Second World War, he tried a comeback with Santa Barbara of the California League but called it quits after just eight games.

He pitched in semi-pro ball in California into the 1950s.

Red Star    Among the other neat stuff Rich turned up is a better photo, with names no less, of the Nelson baseball nine of 1938. Until now we had this labeled as just 1930s as we couldn't pin down the year, but it turns out to be 1938. From that photo we've extracted one pic for the 1938 BC Snapshot page - catcher Gordon "Fats" Richardson. The BC Photo Gallery for that season now has McGahan, Richardson, Joe Benoit, Duke Scodellaro and Merle Stoddard. And, of course, the roster page includes all the teams from the Okanogan Valley League.  Information on tournaments in Summerland and Penticton is also now posted.

Red Star    A big round of applause for Tom Pettoello and Lou DeRosa for the photo and IDs of the 1940 Michel-Natal Buffaloes of the Crow's Nest League. Again, originally we couldn't pin down the year and had it listed as simply 1940s, but we now have confirmation as 1940. And, what a treat to have names to go with the faces.  The list of names confirmed that Turlik and Turyk were different players and not simply a spelling mistake about the same player.

From the team photo we've extracted some individual pics for the photo gallery - Tom Androlick, Steve Chala, Ken Galla, the Kralls - John, Tom & Wally - John Letasy, Sid Little, Andy Turlik, Max Turyk and Martin Sadlish.

As a follow-up, we've added names to the 1940 and 1941 roster pages.  And, the 1941 Kimberley Tournament is included.

Red Star   We've added two more team photos - 1920 Fort William, Ontario and a second photo of the 1921 Winnipeg Arenas.

Red Star   Rosters for teams in the Winnipeg Senior League of 1921 and 1923 have been updated and show a surprising number of first names, a shocking development for the era.  Among those listed, third baseman Al Armstrong and shortstop Allen Armstrong both of the Tammany Tigers. To further complicate things, both had initials of A.A. Going to a third initial, the league was able to distinguish one from the other as Allen Armstrong became A.A.A. Armstrong and Al was shown as A.A.F. Armstrong. Their photos are in the 1924 Manitoba Photo Gallery (along with Sam Perlman and Bunny Warren.

Red Star   Among the other new photos have added, is one of Andy Anderson (not Al or Allen) and Bat Nelson on the 1921 WCBL page; Jim McCullough, 1921 Manitoba; Sid May and Steve Penu, 1923 Manitoba.

Red Star   We're on the looking for information of the Beaverdell Highland-Bell Miners of the late 1930s. In particular, any news on a George Henry Seaman, known mainly as Harry Seaman. We have an H. Seaman in the lineup in 1936, but nothing more.  Drop us a line if you might have further information.  Email me !


19 September, 2017

Ron SingbushRed Star    Well, of course. After hunting high and low for information, especially a proper spelling and first name AND maybe a photo, I just happened Bunny Warrento stumble upon another photo of Ron Singbush (right) , a long time Winnipeg catcher of the 1910s and 1920s. 

That search also discovered a better image that we've had of Fred "Bunny" Warren (left), another veteran Winnipeg star.

Red Star    Rich Necker got us going with that team photo of the Trail, BC team (probably of the late 1930s or early 1940s). Lou DeRosa. former Trail, Nakusp and Castlegar hurler, followed up with a few names and in the process has come up with a team photo of a 1940s edition of the Michel-Natal Buffaloes.  And, in combing for names for that photo, has latched on to an individual image of veteran Michel-Natal star Paul Chala.  Thanks to Tom Pettoello, Paul's nephew.

Help still needed to identify the players in the two above noted team photos. Email me !

Red Star   Two more team pics have come our way.  Rich has dug out the shot of the Grande Prairie, Alberta team of 1915 and we've also added a photo of the 1922 East Kootenay champion Fernie nine.  We have names for each team, but are unable as yet to put names to the faces.

Red Star   A few photo galleries have been updated with individual images - 1918 Manitoba (Gus Guarnera), 1923 Manitoba (Singbush), 1928 Manitoba (Warren), 1937, BC (Joe Benoit, Duke Scodellaro), 1939, BC (Benoit, Scodellaro), 1940 BC (Paul Chala).

Red Star   We've added a couple of new pages, for the 1915 Alberta game reports, and the 1918 Manitoba game reports along with roster updates for 1915 and 1918.

Red Star   With a huge sigh of relief, we note the latest update of all the roster lists, from 1900 to 1980, especially the earlier years.  In this edition we dealt with about 4,900 players, about half new names, the others additions to existing entries. With a surprising number of first names gathered particularly in Winnipeg baseball (in contrast to the Singbush saga) we have managed to delete several hundred lines by consolidating entries. 


16 September, 2017

Red Star   A search for clarity in the names of some 1910s Winnipeg baseball players has led to a hockey star and coach in the National Hockey League, a Manitoba and Canadian champion curler and an example of racism on the diamonds of Winnipeg.

Clem LoughlinRed Star   It all begins with chunks of information and links from our Rich Necker on baseball on the prairies in 1916.

In punching in a couple of names -- Loughlin or Laughlin (right)-- then Singbush or Singebush or Singenbush (later to find Singerbush and Singerbusch in the street directory) -- I was off on a search to determine the correct spellings.

Loughlin spellingRed Star    The Loughlin search had a surprisingly quick resolution.  A baseball infielder, Loughlin was a standout defenceman in hockey and made it all the way to the National Hockey League, playing with the Detroit Cougars (they became the Red Wings a few years later) and Chicago Black Hawks. He also coached the Black Hawks. While with the Victoria Cougars in 1925 he was on a Stanley Cup winning team.

Loughlin nameFor whatever reason, the Winnipeg Tribune just wouldn't print the correct spelling of his name.

It got so weird that on one occasion (on the announcement in 1916 that he would turn pro in hockey) the paper ran a photo (obviously copied from a composite of a hockey team photograph, on which his name was printed) which clearly showed his name as LOUGHLIN, while the paper's caption underneath spelled it as LAUGHLIN. See the photos left and above.

Loughlin played ball in the Winnipeg Senior League for at least four seasons (1913-1916) then, in the mid and late 1920s, played for Tofield and Viking in Alberta.

Red Star   The Singbush -- Singebush, Singenbush, Singenbusch, Singerbush -- (with further alternative spellings Simghus, Sinigus, Linknish) saga was unexpectedly difficult to comprehend.  Here's a player who suited up from 1913 to 1929, drawing dozens and dozens of newspaper mentions, sometimes in the headlines, and for the first 12 years the papers (Winnipeg Tribune and Winnipeg Free Press) did not mention a first name (while shifting mainly between Singebush and Singenbush as his surname, and once in awhile tossing in a nickname, "Singy"). Even in printing a photo of him (below) it carried the caption "Singy Singbush".

SingbushA helpful clue was printed in a June, 1925 article in the Tribune which reported the catcher had been injured working in the C.P.R. machine shop.  The Henderson Winnipeg directories of that era seemed to narrow my choices to one of four or five men, Ronald a machinist at the CPR, Alex a CPR blacksmith, and Jacob a moulder at the CPR, or perhaps Ralph, not listed as a CPR worker, but about the right age or Frederick, not at the CPR, but a machinist with the Free Press. Alex (age 57 in 1925) and Jacob (61) were ruled out.  Ralph (29), Frederick (26) and Ron (32) seemed to be prospects. That the choice might come down to either Ron or Ralph was reinforced by a few items during the 1920s noting an "R. Singbush" as an umpire at intermediate level games and an "R. Singbush" becoming involved in local curling.

Then on August 20th, 1925, Singbush, playing for the Tammany Tigers cracked a three-run homer in the bottom of the final frame to give the Tigers a 4-3 win over the Arenas. His last name was in the headline, and there in the first line of the story was "Roger Singbush".

The elation was short-lived as I realized I had found no mention at all of a Roger Singbush. He didn't exist, at least according to the Henderson directories of the time. Then after a new years of last name only, the Free Press, on May 10, 1928, made mention of "Ralph Singbush".  This brought not elation but depression as my research had discovered earlier that Ralph had emigrated to the United States in 1926 (his obituary in 1968, made mention of 1916) and he was long gone before the 1928 reference.

Curling champsRon SingbushIt was becoming clear that this "R. Singbush" the curler (Manitoba and Canadian champions in 1928 and 1929), had to be "Ronald" and he had to be the baseball player. Expanding my research to try and include his later career, I found a short obituary notice in 1950 noting his death in December. It made note of his baseball career, saying he had played in the Northern League (Winnipeg had a team in the pro circuit) and had umpired for many years.  That was enough for me to make a conclusion.

Finally Singbush had a first name -- Ronald.

[That's the 1929 Canadian championship rink at the left - Gordon Hudson, skip; Don Rollo, third; Singbush, second; Bill Grant, lead.]

Red Star    While Canada has developed a reputation as a multicultural country showing compassion and acceptance of people of all colours and backgrounds, you wouldn't know it by the early years of baseball in some locales in the West. Black players were not welcome.

In 1910, the Western Canada League barred Dick Brookins from playing and in 1918 the Winnipeg Senior League banned Ransom (believed to be Pte. Arthur Ransom of the 1st Depot Battalion, Manitoba, an immigrant from Atlanta) from participating in the local loop. The decision, apparently based on the ban in organized baseball (of which the Winnipeg league was not affiliated), was even more curious as Ransom was playing ball in the military league with and against some of the same players who performed in the Winnipeg Senior League. To their credit, the military and the papers backed Ransom and criticized the league. Following the cowardice of the league in banning him, there is no further mention of Ransom in baseball in the local papers in the following years. It's believed Ransom, a porter for the CPR, settled down in St. Boniface and retired there.

Red Star    Rich Necker's material has provided a comprehensive look at baseball on the Prairies and West Coast in 1916, starting with a full set of game reports for the Winnipeg Senior Amateur League along with snippets from elsewhere in the province. In the Saskatchewan game reports there is coverage of the Regina league, Black Loam League, Saskatoon, and Soo Line competitions (map included). There is coverage of widespread leagues on the Alberta page, including the Calgary Sportsmen's Patriotic Amateur League. And, we've added to our 1916 material for Vancouver and Victoria.

To complement the game reports, the roster page reflects the new additions, and we have additions to the photo galleries - Manitoba, Saskatchewan,and Alberta  -- and to the Manitoba snapshot page (showing the outstanding coverage of the local papers).

We managed to locate the final statistics for the Winnipeg Senior League to show an outstanding season by Transcona hurler Murray Smith, noted as the top all-around player in the league who nearly won the batting crown as well.

Red Star   While digging around for information on Loughlin and Singbush we managed to find the statistics for three other seasons of the Winnipeg Senior League - 1915, 1917 and 1919 - all now posted.  Those stats and other findings have led to additions to roster pages as well - 1913, 1914, 1915, 1917, 1919, 1924.

Red Star   Of course, the photo galleries sport some additions -- 1914 Manitoba (Alex and Dick Irvin, Lawrie, Loughlin, Samson), 1915 Manitoba (Bingham, Carl, Maxwell), 1917 Sask (Barker), 1918 Manitoba (Fidler, Maxwell, Lawrie), 1919 (Altermatt), 1919 Manitoba (Lloyd, Muckle Warren), 1924 Manitoba (Luff, McVey, Browne), 1925 Manitoba (Singbush), 1929 Manitoba (Singbush), 1957 Manitoba (Mazur), 1960 (Kangas).

Red Star   The 1914 team photo of the Winnipeg Creamery team has new information on the possible ID of one of the players - John Armstrong Howard, the first black Canadian to make our Olympic team.

Red Star   Rich has dug out a photo of a Trail baseball team believed to be from the 1930s. We've enlisted Lou DeRosa to try and help identify the members of the club. Please drop a line if you can help !  Email me !

Red Star   We've added two new "profiles" to our outstanding player section, both major stars from and in Manitoba baseball - Ian "Ace" Lowe and Bill "Snake" Siddle

Red Star   A big round of applause for Bernie Wyatt, on hand at Battleford, Sask. last month to represent the old Broadview Buffaloes at their induction into the Saskatchewan Baseball Hall of Fame. It was Bernie's research and presentation that got them into the Hall. Great work. (Check out Bernie's story on the Buffs through the link provided.) 

Al HerbackJim FinkInducted in the individual category were Al Herback (left), former Regina and Calgary star, Don Anderson of Moose Jaw, Garry Anderson of Medicine Hat, Alta., the late Norman Arngrimson of Mozart, the late Jack Batey of Macklin, Cliff Campbell of Castor, Alta., Robert Faith of Lafleche, Jim Fink (right) of Regina, Jamie Flanagan of Kindersley, Garnet Hansen of Weyburn, Ross Mahoney of Regina and Don Pankewich of Regina. Also inducted in the team group were the Wawota Pats and Hohenlohe (with a turnout of more than 100 people for the tiny community). The Woodard family of Colgate was enshrined into the family category while the village of Mervin was selected into the community category.   


30 August, 2017

Red Star   Talk about post-war inflation.  At Huron, South Dakota, June 10, 1946, in a seven inning baseball game, yes baseball, Huron's Junior Legion nine rang up 59 runs in demolishing Flandreau 59-3. They did it in just 56 official at bats, scoring 16 times in the first inning to put the game out of reach just minutes after it began.

Huron took advantage of 18 walks and 27 Flandreau errors. And, they ran wild on the bags too, with a total of 32 stolen bases.

Red Star    West Coast ball gets more coverage with the addition of the 1956 and 1957 game reports and rosters (1956, 1957) of the Northwest Semi-Pro League (and its predecessor, the Northwestern International League).  The 1956-1957 Vancouver game reports reflect a few additions with material gleaned from the Victoria paper.

Rosters are also posted for 1958 when the league went back to a Victoria only senior circuit.

An unexpected bonanza out of the 1956-1957 league membership was the inclusion of such well known teams out of Washington, the Bellingham Bells, Cheney Studs and Deming Loggers (with the Zender brothers). It spurred us on to locate more photographic evidence of these mid-1950s teams. And, I think we've done OK.

We now have team photos of the 1951 (redone), 19521957 and 1958 Bellingham Bells, one of the most successful semi-pro teams of the era.

There's an added photo on the Deming Loggers' page, one from Sports Illustrated in a 1956 issue showing the nine brothers as the core of the team which finished second at the National Baseball Congress Semi-Pro Tournament.

George KritsonisLuther CarrCheney logoOne of the most enduring amateur/semi-pro teams has been the Cheney Studs (named after the 8-foot long 2x4s produced by Cheney Lumber Company which standardized the size of wall studs in the lumber industry, although the team logo suggests a different origin).

Since the 1990s, the club has been hugely successful in Canada winning the Kamloops Invitational Tournament 11 times, the Kelowna Canada Day Tournament 4 times and the Grand Forks Invitational on three occasions. We go back to 1955 and 1956 for team photos of the early editions of the Studs. Right-handed hurler George Kritsonis (far left) was a mainstay of the team for eight seasons. Outfielder Luther Carr (left) was a star on the first of the Cheney teams in 1954, 1955 and 1956.

Art WorthCharlie BoydRed Star    Those team photos (along with the 1950s editions of the Victoria paper, the Daily Colonist) have been of great assistance in filling out the photo galleries, especially the 1955, 1956 and 1957 BC pages, with images of players such as Bernie Anderson, Charlie Boyd (left), Art Worth (right), Andy Padovan, Luther Carr and all the Zenders (yep, Bernie, Dan, Dick, Jake, Jim, John, Lawrence, Nick and Pete).

Of course, the snapshot pages of 1956 and 1957 have also been enhanced.

Red Star    Surprisingly, one of the photo galleries filling in the fastest is the 1946 BC gallery. It helped to find photos of the 1946 Bellingham squad along with images from the Victoria paper (including a lucky find of a Tommy Musgrave picture).

While not of high enough quality to extract individual pictures, we are happy to have a team photo of the 1946 Victoria Senior League champions, the Victoria Legion (which included Bill Prior, Rookie Wright and Hap Gandy).

Owens raceThe 1946 snapshots now include some newspaper images of Victoria players along with one of Sherwood Brewer of the Seattle Steelheads, one of the teams in the short-lived West Coast Negro League. The Seattle squad and Portland Rosebuds played a few games in Victoria. Olympic hero Jesse Owens was a feature of one of the games. As part of the promotion, Owens would take on a race horse in a 100-yard dash and it was the race, not the game, which got the headlines.

The 1945 snapshot page now includes a picture of Sibby Sisti who joined a Vancouver team after coming up with the US Coast Guard for an exhibition game. His military service had interrupted a major league career which began in 1939 as an 18-year-old. After his three years in the Coast Guard, Sisti played another nine years in the majors.

Red Star    There are a few other photographic bits and pieces, including a recent find of a Thomas Snoddy (Ligon's All-Stars) picture, now posted in a 1949 gallery, and one of Harry Butts, a Negro leaguer who came to play in the ManDak League with Brandon. He's in the 1951 ManDak gallery and snapshot page. And, there's a photo of Don Smith of the Bellingham Bells in the 1960 BC gallery.

Red Star     For the early years, we've added the 1912 Vancouver Beavers of the Class B, Northwestern League. As a bonus, this one provided a better quality individual photo of Lefty Gervais.

Also on-line is the 1916 team photo of the champions of the Calgary SPA League (Sportsmen’s Patriotic Amateur League), the Calgary Hustlers. There's a minor mystery here as the team clearly features three of the famous Lewis baseball brothers. Frank Lewis and Earl Lewis are surely two of them. The other is listed as C. Lewis. That could be Clifford "Stiffy" Lewis, although he would have been just 15 years old.  And, we know that Lincoln "Dodger" Lewis did play for the club as well.  That might get sorted out as we dig into more 1916 material sent along by Rich Necker.

Red Star     I think it's a tad better, another version of the photo of the 1951 Trail Smoke Eaters, the British Columbia Champions. And one more new addition, the 1959 Yarrow Ocean Sprays of the Fraser Valley League, with names too !    


28 August, 2017

Red Star     July 2, 1935 Victoria's Daily Colonist provided an example of the old newspaper term, "burying the lede".

It wasn't until halfway down the story about a double-header between Vancouver's Home Gas and Victoria that the paper noted that the starter in the second game for Vancouver was a woman !  Dot Richardson, given a rousing welcome by the fans at Royal Athletic Park in Victoria, had a good first inning allowing just a walk but two triples, three walks and a couple of errors in the second frame sent her to the showers after just an inning and a third. She was charged with six runs but avoided the loss when Home Gas rallied to win.

Floyd IsekiteRed Star   Less than two weeks later, in the Vancouver Senior League, Floyd "Lefty" Isekite (left) of the Vancouver Athletics had a muted celebration of a no-hitter.

It was was no hits, but TWO runs as the Bellingham Boosters turned three errors in the seventh inning into runs and managed to sneak away with a 2-0 victory. Isekite walked three and fanned nine.

Red Star   Our newly posted coverage of Victoria ball in 1935 (including rosters) complements the material on the Vancouver Senior League and the Terminal League so expertly prepared by our Rich Necker. These pieces, along with the amazing trilogy by Redeye Ropertz on the major league and Dai Nippon tours, of 1934-1935, greatly enhances our coverage of mid 1930s baseball. 

Red Star     Cricket was king in Victoria, BC in 1913 but baseball did get a little play on Vancouver Island and we make note of it and even have a few rosters.

Red Star    We stumbled upon a couple of pictures of early 1900s players in the Crow's Nest League. Hank Levasseur is on the 1923 page and Tony Vejprava is in the 1924 gallery.

Jimmy Holness, a Victoria star, is shown on the 1918 BC page.  The 1913 photo of Ed Steele on the snapshot page isn't of the greatest quality, to say the least, but, if nothing else, it serves as a placeholder for the real deal.

The 1925 BC Snapshot page has additions of Hap Gandy and Fred "Spike" McGinnis.

In 1935, we've added pictures of Steve Dunc and Kim Campbell to the BC photos and there's a new photo of the Victoria Old Timers from games in 1935. Famous all-around athlete Doug Peden has been added to the 1944 BC Photo Gallery. Of more recent vintage,  there's catcher Dave Pook of St. Thomas Elgins on the 1961 Ontario photo page.

Red Star     Another small step forward with Ontario coverage -- rosters for the 1934 Intercounty League, to go along with the final standings and a few stats.

Red Star     Solved !  One Giacomuzzi puzzle resolved. The identification of a "J. Giacomuzzi" was in error, the initial belonging to another player. However, maybe there's another brother to chase down.  A report on Amelio's (aka Moose) wedding, notes a brother Guido as the best man. Could Pedro and Guido be the same guy?  Or is there a third brother?


25 August, 2017

Red Star     Major leaguers needing part-time jobs? 

Yes, there was a time, before the sport went money-mad and players became multi-millionaires, when post-season tours provided major league players with a little extra cash to supplement their less than stellar salaries. The average pay in the mid 1930s was around $5,000.  In 1934 Babe Ruth made all of $34,000, cut to $8,000 in 1935.

These were the worst of times for many with the stock market crash of October, 1929, marking the start of the Great Depression. This would be the Dirty Thirties, drought, the Dust Bowl, relief camps for unemployed workers (in Saskatchewan two-thirds of the rural population relied on government relief), protests and riots, the Regina Riot being the most violent.

With this as the backdrop, a group of major leaguers, with Babe Ruth as the centrepiece, headed out after the 1934 season to bring big league ball to diamonds in Canada (with a few games in the United States along the way) as a warm-up for a tour to Japan. 

A few months later, in the Spring of 1935, a group of Japanese high school and university players set out on a tour of the United States and Canada and within a year had become part of the first professional league in Japan.

Our Redeye Ropertz loved this story and spent many months researching details of all three events -- the 1934 tour of Western Canada, the 1934 tour of Japan and the 1935 Dai Nippon tour of North America.

Enjoy. The Ropertz trilogy.

BASEBALL ON TOUR ... WESTERN CANADA HOSTS MAJOR LEAGUERS
AND SAWAMURA ... THE BABE A CELEBRITY IN JAPAN    

By Redeye Ropertz               

USA vs Japan

As an incidental outgrowth of an attempt by American missionaries to bring Christianity to the Far East, baseball was introduced in Japan in the 1860s.

Jim ThorpeA 1908 tour by a team, mainly of Pacific Coast League players and organized by the A. J. Reach Company, is believed to be the first by an American squad.

In 1913, as part of a world tour, the Chicago White Sox and the New York Giants set foot in the Land of the Rising Sun and delighted their first ever all-Nipponese audience with their level of skill during a single exhibition encounter (see photo above). Yes, that's John McGraw, second row up, sixth from the left. Among the Giants, a famous American athlete, Jim Thorpe (left).

Foxx, Ruth, GehrigIt was not until eleven years later, however, that touring American major leaguers returned. This time the lineup included well-known impact players such as Casey Stengel, Luke Sewell and Bob Meusel.

Biz MackeyIn 1927, the Philadelphia Royal Giants, a squad of Negro players, including star catcher Biz Mackey (right), took the hop to Japan and won 23 of 24 games. In the process they cranked out a barrage of long distance home runs, some clearing the fences. The nickname "Giants" became synonymous with "respect" and "superiority".

1931 program"The Georgia Peach", Ty Cobb, was part of an American All-Star trek in 1928 while Lou Gehrig and Robert Moses "Lefty' Grove (right, on the cover of a game program) led a 1931 tour of Japan as the barnstorming junkets continued to increase in popularity. The 1934 series featured the incomparable George Herman "Babe' Ruth (seen above with fellow All-Stars, Jimmie Foxx (left) and Lou Gehrig). Even with declining skills, the Babe remained baseball's most entertaining and sought-after star.

Interestingly, the purpose of these trips was not cultural but economic. Ball players were poorly paid and required off season exhibition games to supplement their income.

Prior to sailing to Japan in 1934, the 36 American League All-Stars split into two camps. One squad, led by the 1933 home run champion Jimmie Foxx, toured Western Canada playing in cities such as Winnipeg, Saskatoon, Regina, Edmonton, Calgary and Vancouver. They played 12 games on Canadian soil winning 10 of 11 decisions, with one tie. The contingent led by Babe Ruth took the Soo Line Railway out of Chicago and travelled through Minnesota, North Dakota and Western Canada. Ruth was treated as a celebrity wherever the train stopped, be it Fargo, North Dakota or Estevan, Saskatchewan. His charisma was unmatched by any other athlete of his time. 

Babe & family

The 1934 tour was organized by former New York Giant batting champion, Francis "Lefty" O'Doul and Sotaro Suzuki, a Japanese baseball writer, in partnership with the Canadian Pacific Railway (C.P.R.). On a journey from Tokyo to New York, Suzuki landed in Vancouver and embarked upon a train ride to Montreal. He was so impressed with the majestic and pristine scenery, which included Lake Louise, that he concluded this had to be a major part of the reason why Americans and Canadians seemed so composed and serene while Japanese appeared to be more high-strung. How this theory impacted Japanese baseball is uncertain. 

OrganizersThe arrangement with the Canadian railway meant the American League All-Stars would travel on C.P.R. trains, sleep in its majestic hotels and cross the Pacific Ocean aboard its massive 26,000 tonne flagship "The Empress of Japan".

Suzuki is 2nd from the left, O'Doul on the right, with Connie Mack (left) and probably umpire John Quinn as the team set sail for Japan.

Connie Mack and his son Earle had assembled a cast of American League All-Stars featuring not only Babe Ruth but five more future Hall of Famers, including Jimmie Foxx, Charlie Gehringer and Lou Gehrig. It was the appearance of the 39-year-old Ruth which made this tour the most successful, not only in gate receipts, but also in Babe flowerscelebration and genuine friendliness. Everywhere the Babe went he drew massive crowds. Despite heated tensions between the United States and Japan, the Babe was treated as a celebrity.

Following the 19-game warm-up tour in 15 cities in Canada and the United States, the All American squad played 23 games in four countries on their Asian tour and won all of them, many by lop-sided scores. There was such a demand for tickets that organizers incredulously charged prices double and even triple the average cost of a baseball ticket at Fenway Park or Yankee Stadium. All games were virtually sold out and attendance at some matches approached 100,000. No stadium in either the American or National League could accommodate such crowds. Total attendance for the entire trip exceeded 500,000. 

There was no professional baseball in Japan and finding suitable opposition to face such accomplished stars as Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig was a major problem. The better players in Japan played at the University level and would lose their amateur status if they played against professionals. For years, Japanese universities had been sending players to North America to gain experience, playing against semi-pro and amateur teams. In 1911, Waseda University traveled all the way to Vancouver and beat the 1910 Vancouver Senior A League champions by the score of 4 - 0. The challenge for media moguls, such as Sotaro, who were hoping the series would boost newspaper sales, was to convince the better university players to participate in this "historic" tour. A number of the more accomplished students did play and many of them stayed with the team the following year. Although not the first professional team in Japan, the newly formed Dai Nippon Tokyo Yakyu Club (Greater Tokyo Baseball Team) would lay the foundation for professional baseball in the country. It is not surprising that they would adopt the nickname "Giants".  Lefty O'Doul, long time friend and passionate supporter of baseball in Japan, played for the New York Giants.

Babe Ruth played in every game, hitting 13 home runs, scoring 27, driving in 33 more, while batting .408 -- a triple crown achievement. The 1934 tour turned out to be more than just a series of friendly exhibitions. It was an event that changed lives, was a diplomatic coup, and significantly influenced Japanese baseball. It was also Babe Ruth's farewell tour and he went out with a bang! In effect, Babe Ruth almost single-handedly globalized the game of baseball when baseball was still just a game.

By the end of the 1934 tour the Major Leagues had compiled an overall record of 87 - 1! The only loss coming in 1922 when Keio University Alumni defeated the American visitors 9 - 3.

Eiji SawamuraVictor StarffinIn 1935, the Tokio Giants undertook an extensive four month barnstorming tour of both the United States and Canada. In all, they played 109 games, winning 74.

Baseball fans from Winnipeg to Vancouver would soon marvel at the talent of some of these young phenoms such as Eiji Sawamura (left, who appeared in nearly half of the games and finished with a 24-9 record) and Russian born Victor Starffin (right). Nine members of the team would ultimately make the Japanese Baseball Hall of Fame.

The years 1934 and 1935 were exciting, historic and memorable times to be a baseball fan in Western Canada. Not only did fans have the opportunity to watch some of the best ball players in history, they were witness to the emergence of Japanese professional baseball.

AMERICAN LEAGUE ALL-STARS TOUR OF WESTERN CANADA

AMERICAN LEAGUE ALL-STARS TOUR OF JAPAN

TOYKO GIANTS BARNSTORMING TOUR OF WESTERN CANADA


06 August, 2017

Red Star     The Giacomuzzi brothers, Amelio, known as Moose, and brother Pedro were among the combatants who popularized baseball in the Crow's Nest area in the 1930s, 30s and 50s. At least we thought there were just the pair of Giacomuzzis.  However, in the 1938 game reports, just updated as a result of research by our Rich Necker, there's note of a J. Giacomuzzi. One more mystery to solve. 

GiacomuzziWe've tried to track down photos of the brothers, without much luck. The best we could find was a picture in the Lethbridge Herald in 1944 when the pair joined the Navy (just a guess, but Moose is at the right). .

With Rich's work, there are now game reports, sketchy as they may be at times, for nearly all the games of the 1938 season.  The loop had entries from both Alberta and BC -- Blairmore (the Canucks and the Cardinals), Natal, Hillcrest, Elk Valley and Lundbreck.    


05 August, 2017

Red Star    A consequence of coverage of the recent London Reunion has been renewed interest in the history of amateur and semi-pro ball in Southern Ontario.  We've been a beneficiary with the addition of all the recent postings, mainly on the London teams of the Intercounty League.  And, we've been reminded of an area of history not given much attention of the years -- the success of black baseball in the province, at the team and individual level.

Boomer HardingEarl ChaseIn 1934, the Chatham Colored All-Stars pulled a major surprise in winning a provincial championship.  Two members of that team -- Wilfred "Boomer" Harding (left) and Earl "Flat" Chase (right) -- have subsequently gained some well-deserved recognition. (In 2002, the Toronto Blue Jays wore replicas of the Chatham uniforms to salute the All-Stars).

Red Star   Paul Allen, who grew up on the diamonds of Chatham and then played in the Intercounty League with London Majors, had that in common with Chase, just two decades later. Paul is well aware of Chase's contributions :

By all accounts Earl "Flat" Chase was the most versatile of players who could pitch, catch, and play all infield positions with equal adroitness. His name also became legend around the province as a long home-run hitter and he came to hold records for the longest balls hit in Sarnia, Strathroy, Welland, Milton and Chatham.

In 1934, he led the City League in hitting with a .525 average and that same year in the finals against Penetang, out pitched Phil Marchildon, who later starred with the Philadelphia Athletics in the American League.

In a 1985 interview, the late Kingsley Terrell of Chatham, a star athlete in his own right, talked about his friend and team mate. “He got the name Flat because he walked as though he had flat feet, but boy could he run,” said Terrell. “There was not a better second baseman around, he was a good pitcher and God knows there was nobody around the country that could hit a ball any better or farther than he could . . . he could have been in the major leagues but he was the wrong colour at the wrong time.”

Dresden resident Bruce Carter also recalled Flat Chase and noted that he often watched him play in Dresden. He was a major league quality player,” said Carter, who recalled seeing Chase hit a ball at the west side of Jackson Park in Dresden that cleared the roof of the town’s library, a significant distance to the east. “He hit balls they still haven’t found.”

“If you were in Welland today and told anybody you were from Chatham, the first thing they’d tell you would be about the home run Flat hit there one day. It was one of the greatest moments because I was on first base when he hit it. The ball not only cleared the right field fence, it cleared a building way behind the fence. People in Welland later said the ball ended up downtown. Flat was the most gifted hitters I’ve ever seen. There’s no question in anybody’s mind who ever say him that he would have been a major leaguer had it not been for the colour barrier” -- Boomer Harding (Miller, "Boomer Harding--One Great Guy," London Free Press, September 7, 1978).

Earl "Flat" Chase was born in 1910 in Buxton, Ontario but moved to Windsor when quite young. He lived across the street from a ball park and all his spare hours were spent there, participating and learning the skills of the game at which he became very proficient. From the 1920's to the 1950's, inspired by Babe Ruth, baseball was king in North America as every city and town had a men's baseball league and every city and town played other communities. Chatham was no exception. "Flat" was a very versatile player as he could catch, pitch, and play all infield positions. Although he led many leagues in batting in his career, he became renowned as a long home run hitter as he held records for the longest balls hit in Sarnia, Strathroy, Aylmer, Welland, Milton, and Chatham” (Chatham Sports Hall of Fame).

“The Stars this year are favored by a strong four-man pitching staff. Flat Chase, smoke-ball king of the City League, has been the mainstay of the pitching staff most of the season and has come to be recognized as one of the hardest hitters in amateur ball” ("Stars Begin O.B.A.A. Playdowns Thursday," Chatham Daily News, September 5,1934).

“’Flat’ Chase, hard-hitting shortstop for the Stars, supplied the biggest thrill of the afternoon when he drove a mammoth drive far over the right field fence in the sixth for a home run. It was the longest drive in the history of the local park” ("Stars Even Round with Clever Win," Chatham Daily News, September 24, 1934).

“Flat Chase, who was the first to face Shupe, nailed the Welland moundsman’s first delivery on the button and the crowd sat fascinated as the sphere threatened to vanish into the heavens. When last seen, the ball was disappearing over the large sheet metal shed outside the right field fence. Chase was given a standing ovation by fans for his performance. It was easily the longest hit ever made in the park” ("Bits About the Stars," Chatham Daily News, September 25, 1934).

More on Earl "Flat" Chase

Red Star   Wilfred Harding was an all-around athlete, who seemed bound for stardom in baseball or hockey. He had one major roadblock, especially in the time period of the 1930s and 1940s. Read Mary Caton's piece in the Windsor Star from 2016.

Red Star    The Harding and Chase photos are the first to grace our new 1934 Ontario Photo Gallery.  And, we've added the team photo of the Chatham Colored All-Stars.  Also from 1934, we've added the standings for the Intercounty League.  A side note - the London team, known as London Winery in 1934, became London Silverwoods (Dairy) in 1937. From booze to milk !

Red Star    There's also a 1943 Ontario Photo Gallery with pics extracted from the London team photo. Thanks to Barry Wells and Barry Boughner for digging out the names for the 1943 London squad.

Red Star   A re-check of material from our Henry Ropertz found rosters for 1934 for the Vancouver Commercial League missed earlier, now posted.  


03 August, 2017

Red Star    If you've previously scanned our 1951 home page, you know that was quite the baseball season on the prairies. We've now made a substantial addition to the 1951 pages, filling in some blanks in Alberta coverage with game reports for six provincial leagues - Chinook, Big Six (with five teams), Foothills, Sunshine, Boundary and Crow's Nest Pass (which, of course, also had BC teams).

Along the way, the news pages had results for elsewhere so there are also other game report updates, regarding the Edmonton Oilers, Manitoba-Saskatchewan ball , the ManDak League, the BC Interior, and Vancouver Island.

Reg ClarksonThere's details on a dozen tournaments, rosters and stats.  Two big success stories in the Chinook League were veteran Reg Clarkson the power-hitting second baseman of the Calgary Buffaoes, who put up such strong Bentley MacEwennumbers that while he left the team in July to go to football camp, he still had enough of a margin to win the batting title.

Young lefty Bentley MacEwen, just 18, was unbeatable, finishing with a 10-0 record, a league-leading 136 strikeouts and an ERA of 1.35.

Former Negro Leaguer, Hubert Glenn suited up for Claresholm, Alberta and obviously was a bit too talented for the opposition as he rapped the ball at a .535 clip with 30 of his 53 hits going for extra bases. But, it was his pitching which got the most attention. 17 wins, 4 losses, 207 strikeouts in 166 innings.

Red Star    There are new faces in the 1951 photo galleries with Bert Olmstead and Roy Schappert in the Saskatchewan file, and Ralph Vold, Joe Connors, Frank Deak, Bob Fink, Walt Pashuk, Bill Thederahn in the Alberta gallery. We're happy to add a picture of Charlie White to the 1951 ManDak gallery and Leon Day to the 1950 ManDak pictures.  There's also a 1951 Alberta snapshot page now showing Doad Tufteland and Dick Noon

In searching for a better photo of Walt Pashuk, we ended up re-doing the Magrath individual photos in the 1956 Alberta gallery.

Red Star    There is no evidence this actually happened, but it appeared some of the touring black players began to really like small town Alberta.  August 3, 1950, THE HANNA (Alberta) HERALD and EAST CENTRAL ALBERTA NEWS, carried the following item.

Colored Ballplayers Want Jobs in Hanna

Three members of the Muskogee Cardinals baseball club which played here Tuesday evening are very much interested in securing jobs in Hanna, and of course plying the baseball talents as well. It would be quite an acquisition to the Hanna Club's roster with two first class pitchers and a catcher. The boys being "jacks of all trades" in the baseball game can play any position.

Leroy Haskins, who played first base in the game here is a left-hander and in addition to duties on the mound can perform very capably in the field. Leroy hails from 2405 - West 10th St., Texarkana, Texas, but gives his forwarding address as C/O Bishop College Trade School.

Ernest Locke of 709 Flood Street, Wichita Falls, Texas, in his role as short stop in Tuesday's game took the eye of most of the baseball critics, with his uncanny ability to cover second base and his own position. Ernie also states that he can play any position and there are few in these parts who will doubt his word. He can be contacted at the above address until this spring.

Tall, Ulysee Patrick, catcher, would be a most welcome player on any man's ball club, and when not on the receiving end can take a turn on the mound, likes the outfield and in general states he is an "all around man." Ulysee had few chances to show his throwing ability to second bases, but on the throws he did make was in a class by himself. He can be found at 3943 N. 33 St., Kansas City, Kansas.

What a ball club the Hanna Cubs could have with the three above gentlemen in the lineup. A battery, a spare pitcher, first baseman, outfielder. Guess just about a whole ball team !

Red Star    Wow. You don't find many of these. Home movies of local baseball in the 50s.  Barry Wells, whose been terrific in helping to add to our Intercounty file, especially material from London (see the London Reunion page), points out a little gem (just 1:37) now on YouTube. It shows a couple of teenagers (maybe 16-17 at the time) playing catch. They would go on to be legends in London ball - Roy McKay and Bob Deakin. Victor Aziz Sr., the photographer for most of the London team photos we've posted, filmed the pair and the convertible, and the dog, in 1950.

Gord BradshawRed Star    Catching up on past heroes - check out the line on George Bradshaw, catcher in the Intercounty League in the 1930s with the Galt Terriers. 

A batting average of ... .698 !  He's in the Cambridge, Ontario, Sports Hall of Fame.

Red Star    One more Ontario team photo - the 1944 Toronto District Champions, Mahers.  The London Majors went on to win the Canadian title, and in the process place six players on the first team All-Stars of the Canadian playoffs (Dunc Galbraith C, Tommy White P, Hank Biasatti 1B, Russ Evon SS, Clare Van Horne LF and Wally Dippel CF).

Red Star    A treat for ol' friend Jack Altman, likely still flingin' a few this summer, we've posted a photo of the 1961 Humboldt, California, Crabs, one of the consistently good semi-pro teams in the west which, over the years, featured many players who had experience in Western Canada. On this edition, Jack, Bert Dollar and Bobby Doig had roots in Canada.


02 August, 2017

Red Star    I was certain the 1956 Granum photos had been posted years and years ago. Maybe they're already hidden on some other page, but they've been re-done nonetheless. Good quality photos of most of the members of the powerful 1956 club, including such stalwarts as Jim Lester, Bentley MacEwen, Joe Weremy, and Earl Ingarfield.

In re-checking my re-checking of the spelling of MacEwen (so often spelled McEwen or MacEwan or McEwan) I was helped by extended family of the famous Delisle Bentleys. Bentley MacEwen's story appears to have been a sad one in later years.  I know I had great difficulty in trying to track him down.

Wonder if anyone has information of what became of Bentley after baseball.  It's believed he died young, just 48. He is so prominent in 1951 in Calgary ball as I try and wrap up coverage of that season.

Red Star     Rich Necker has some bits and pieces from 1938 BC & Alberta ball (which has helped to finally figure out that "Tosin" Krall and John Krall were the same guy, with all the other Kralls performing in Crow's Nest baseball (Wally and Tommy Krall might be the most recognizable).  The main new coverage occurs in the Crow's Nest Pass circuit.  There's also new information on the BC Interior page and the 1938 tournament  and roster pages.

Red Star    From the London Major reunion, Barry Wells keeps the hits coming !  One is a link to a marvelous little film from about 1950 showing a pair of future London legends.  And, he's sent along a photo of the 1966 London Pontiacs to go along with our recent collection of team pics.  Lots of familiar names (at least to Southern Ontario fans of a certain age) - Stan Anderson, John Ambrose, Roy McKay, Dave Lapthorne, Barry Boughner, Russ Evon, Paul Allen.  


01 August, 2017

Red Star    You know the routine.  It's the day of the game and you have work blocking your day of enjoyment at the ballpark. Well, there's always that sick day.  "Sorry boss, not feeling well, must be the 'flu." And, yet, there you are in the TV shot of the outfield, reaching to nab a home run ball, beer in one hand, old glove on the other. 

Walter FrinkWell, Walter Frink of the Calgary Bronchos, the leading hurler in the professional Western Canada League, took a sick day and turned up in the lineup of Langdon in the Gleichen Tournament.  He tossed two complete game victories in two days to lead his new mates to top money.  It was all part of the shifting allegiances in baseball in the 'teens in Alberta and elsewhere.

Rich Necker has dug up more on early ball on the prairies with 1913 Alberta game reports, Saskatchewan game notes, tournament summaries and, of course, rosters (a very impressive list for that early in our baseball history).  He's even found some stats for one of the Manitoba clubs in the Mountain League and a photo of the Edmonton City Dairy team from their 1913 season. And, we've discovered a photo of the 1913 Moose Jaw champions, Allan-Cummings.

And, skipping ahead a year, Rich has a few notes on the Vancouver City championship of 1914.

Red Star    A couple of individual photos added, 1922, Ira Colwell of the Calgary Bronchos of the old Western Canada circuit and, 1933, "Shorts" Henderson, a mainstay of the Revelstoke club of the BC Interior.

Doug GostlingRed Star    And, on the 1950 home page we've made note of Doug "Goose" Gostlin, a top hurler in Toronto in 1949, who made it out to Saskatchewan to star for the famous Delisle Gems of the Bentley brothers the following season.

The Globe and Mail newspaper out of Toronto stated Gostlin, then just 20, had compiled a pitching record of 20-4, outstanding for the short season on the prairies. He turned pro the following season, going 17-9 and 18-11 in the first two of his six seasons in the Brooklyn and Phillies organizations.

Red Star    The London Reunion page has a couple of new additions and we've added a team photo of the 1958 London Majors.. Thank you Barry Wells !


31 July, 2017

Red Star    In adding more information and photos to the London Reunion page (thanks to Paul Allen and Barry Wells) one thing led to another to another ... and we now have a few more pictures of the London championship teams beginning with the 1925 club, in their first season in the Intercounty League of Southern Ontario. (The league itself was born in 1919).  No names yet, but we are hopeful !

Then, seeing a photo of the 1943 London Army team, it reminded me Stanley JonesStan Jonesof an old photo sent to us many moons back but filed away for future use. Yep, it's another picture of the 1943 team, but WITH names. (Turns out though that they may have had them backwards.) The July 22nd reunion in London featured, among others, Stanley "Tubby" Jones, (above, left and right) now in his mid 90s, who was the catcher on that 1943 squad.

The 1944 London Majors photos have been posted for years, but we've now added some names for the bottom picture (and, our ace correspondent Rich Necker will likely be able to fill in some more).

The 1945 and 1948 team pages are unchanged, but we've now added three new ones -- the championship teams of 1956, 1969 (in colour too !) and 1975 (also in colour).

One of the big highlights of the London club over all these years, was the 1948 season when the Majors won not just the Intercounty championship, the Ontario AND Canadian titles, but, in a tough, seven-game series, captured the North American sandlot championship downing a talented Fort Wayne, Indiana team, loaded with ex-pros, including former major league hurler Bill Brandt and major leaguer to be, Chuck Harmon.  In the seventh and deciding game, London legend Tommy White fired a five-hit shutout as the Majors won 5-0. It was his third win of the series and his 15th consecutive mound triumph. 

There's not much talk about another aspect of that 1948 title - the manager, Clare Van Horne. It was a sordid tale of spurned romance and murder.


30 July, 2017

Labatt ParkRed Star    Quite a weekend in London, Ontario, a week ago, as the city's London Majors of the Intercounty League held their inaugural Alumni Reunion.

Paul Allen, who suited up with the Majors from the early 1960s to the early 1970s, was among the attendees at the gathering and sends along a report of the event - London Reunion.

Jack Fairs & Paul AllenThat's Paul, at the right, with legendary college coach and teacher, Jack Fairs, the last surviving member of London's 1948 team which won the Intercounty League title, the provincial and Canadian championships and to top it all, the North American National Baseball Congress title defeating a tough team from Fort Wayne, Indiana.

Jack FairsFairs, now in his 90s, taught and coached at the University of Western Ontario for more than fifty years.  Right - that's Fairs in 1942 as a member of the football team at Western.

Red Star    Good to hear from ol' friend Bill Guenthner, whose dedication and talent has helped to preserve the history of the Minot Mallards of North Dakota.  His wonderful web site now has a home here.  Bill sends word of a special report in the Minot Daily News on the Mallards and Bill's efforts to keep the memories alive. Congrats Bill !!


10 July, 2017

San Diego ChickenRed Star    Chances are you are familiar with the character at the left.  Yep, the famous San Diego Chicken, the long time mascot of the major league Padres. And, a featured guest at the London Majors (Ontario Intercounty League) reunion at London the weekend of July 22-23.  Ted Giannoulas, the man in the outfit, was born and raised in London and used to change the old manual scoreboard at Labatt Park in the mid 1960s. 

Former London second sacker Paul Allen, who will be at the reunion, has kindly offered to bring back some news and photos of the event. You might recall that Paul has provided our site with some very interesting material on the Intercounty League and his time as a teammate of Fergie Jenkins in Chatham.  We look forward to Paul's report.

Red Star    Thanks to our old friend Jack Altman for sending along the newsletter of the Pacific Coast League Historical Society. A very newsy, eye-catching publication (with Bill Swank and Dave Eskenazi among the advisory committee). Lots of familiar names in the articles.

Red Star    A nice surprise to hear from Steve Brossard, grandson of Revere Augustus "Babe" Brossard, a star of Saskatchewan ball in the 1920s and 1930s. Babe had a home in Vancouver and also had a large cattle ranch in the Ashcroft area that Steve and his siblings (a brother, two sisters) would visit in the summer. And it seems the family had the baseball gene. Steve and older brother Brian both took the game to heart. That's Babe and "grandma" arriving home from a trip to Hawaii.  And, on the right, the big guy is Brian (who went to the Pony League World Series with his Victoria team) and Steve who continued to play baseball and fastball until he "got too broken to play".

Babe & wifeBrian & Steve Brossard

Red Star    Happy to help out Ken McWilliams of Regina with a historical project on the Royal Canadian Legion. They're working on a video and one of our photos caught their attention.  It's one of a set of pictures of the 1948 wedding of Saskatoon Legion catcher Bobby Sasseville and his lovely bride Doreen Duffus.  The photos came to us nearly ten years ago thanks to Jules Swick, a baseball and fastball star in Saskatoon in the 1940s and 1950s. We've taken this opportunity to enlarge and improve the quality of the photos. We have recently been informed that they are photos by noted prairie photographer Leonard Hillyard and available through the Saskatoon Public Library, Local History department.

Red Star    In our search for a good photo of Irvin Castille (Brandon Greys, 1952) we managed to hook up again with Bill Plott, who is wrapping up a book on the Birmingham Black Barons of Negro League baseball. You might already be familiar with Bill from his publications for SABR and book on the Negro Southern League. Looking forward to the latest publication! 

Red Star     We overlooked this one earlier, but it's now added to the 1906 roster page, the names of the players on the club from Anacortes, Washington which toured in Alberta that summer. Important not just for the games but for William F. "Deacon" White who was the playing manager of the American team and was so enamoured by Edmonton that he decided to remain and quickly established himself as the area’s first promoter of big-league sport by helping to build baseball, football and hockey organizations in the thriving Capital city.

Red Star    From our effort to dig up some news of baseball in Ontario we now have the 1949 rosters to go along with the game reports posted earlier. Included are the Intercounty League, West Toronto League, Viaduct League, plus the Japanese teams in Hamilton and Montreal.

Red Star    While he awaits knee surgery, our Rich Necker keeps pumping out the material, this time concentrating on the 1913 season on the prairies.  Among other things, he's come up with game reports for Alberta (note all the suspensions and weird injuries), BC Interior (including the Okanagan, Arrow Lakes & East Kootenays), Vancouver, and Vancouver Island, and even a bit from Saskatchewan.  A 1913 Tournament page has also been established. His sleuthing through the early newspapers has resulted in a huge expansion of the 1913 roster page with names of players for teams from Estevan to Yorkton to Calgary, Bow Island, Lloydminster, Vancouver, Nelson, Cranbrook and dozens of places in between.


30 June, 2017

Red Star    Hobbled, on the DL, but still punching out the reports - our Rich Necker adds to our understanding of early baseball on the prairies and the West Coast.

In this edition, Rich has game reports and rosters for the 1913 Winnipeg Senior Amateur League and another, called simply the Semi-Pro League in Manitoba. 

One 1913 game report popped up for Saskatchewan ball (noting the fighting, but not much else) so we add a new page anticipating we'll add more over time.

On the 1914 Vancouver page, we add a report on a touring Japanese university team, no-hit, but managed a tie.

Red Star    Rich has more for our photo display as well.  First there's the 1912 Kelly-Douglas Nabobs the champs of the Vancouver Wholesale Baseball League.

Hap SollowayAnd there's the 1914 National Biscuit Company squad, including Harley "Hap" Solloway (left) (one of three Solloways on the team) the Commercial League and Vancouver City champions. From the photo we were able to update the team roster.

Red Star    On the 1955 Ontario Photo Gallery there are a few addition pics, including Bill Andrescik, John Krycia and Sam Lima of the West Toronto Senior League. 

Red Star    As we begin to dig into some clippings from the 1951 summer in Alberta, we've undated some rosters (Lethbridge Miners and Cubs) and stories for the Tournament page.  There are a few additions to the game reports.


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