News & Notes-12, Western Canada Baseball

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05 June, 2008

Walter McCoy-    Thanks to Dan Doyle of San Diego for keeping me posted on the activities of his friend Walter McCoy (Carman, ManDak League 1952-54).

McCoy (left) is to be honoured today (June 5th) as part of Major League Baseball's Player Draft.  Prior to the start of the draft, each club will "draft" surviving Negro League players, representing players who did not have an opportunity to play in the majors.  McCoy is to be the selection of the San Diego Padres.  The right-hander played in the Negro League with the  Chicago American Giants.  In 1948 he set a Mexican Winter League record by winning 11 straight games

-    The annual get-together of the Edmonton Oldtimers is set for June 20th, two weeks tomorrow.  The EOBA (Edmonton Oldtimers Baseball Association) does a tremendous job in keeping alive the history of baseball in Edmonton and the province.  Its annual gathering is an opportunity for the oldtimers to renew friendships and swap stories (perhaps even adding a little lustre to some of the events of the past). 

This year's event takes place at the Marriott River Cree Resort and Casino on the west side of Edmonton.  Congratulations to all associated with the EOBA for its marvelous work in recognizing the achievements of the past and helping to build for the future with its program to help up and coming athletes.

It was quite flattering to be asked to speak at this year's event.  A few medical issues, however, have put me on the DL for the time being.

Dick JoyceJim Williams-    There have been several hundred changes and additions to the site.  As usual, I've been so busy adding material to the site I haven't taken the time to note all the changes!  However, among the new stuff is the nearly complete Basin League game reports for 1964.  Lots of photos - for example, Dick Joyce ( left) and Jimy Williams (right) added to the Basin League photo galleries.

-      Sports Illustrated has made a major move in placing its back issues online.  I've managed to track down one story I've long hoped to obtain.  It is a 1958 item on the baseball squad at the University of Southern California. 

Mike Castanon
Mike Castanon
Bruce Gardner
Bruce Gardner
Ron Fairly
Ron Fairly
Bill Heath
Bill Heath
John Werhas
John Werhas

-    Happy to help out Linda Ward of California who was searching for information on her grandfather who played in 1912 with the Bassano club of the Western Canada Baseball League. 

Dave Pagan-    Thanks again to Rich Necker!  He's been a whirlwind in putting together the game-by-game reports on the Southern Saskatchewan League and provided info on two more majorleagers from the prairies - Reggie Cleveland and Dave Pagan (left).

He's also provided incredible help in efforts to chase down information on such teams as the Texas Jasper Steers.  There is so little information on the Steers, who toured Western Canada in 1954.  If you have any clippings on the Steers' tour I'd appreciate hearing from you.  Email me !  

Don Stewart-    Among the photos added are the individual 1950 pictures of the Edmonton Dodgers of the Big Four Intercity League.  That's Don Stewart (right) who played shortstop and the outfield for the Dodgers who claimed the league championship.  I am hopeful that some of the members of the Edmonton Oldtimers group will be able to dig out stuff on the Big Four loop.  The league ran from 1947 to 1950 with teams from Edmonton and Calgary.

Dick Wright-      I am so pleased to be in contact with Dick Wright a former star in the Intercounty League in Ontario.  Dick was kind enough to send along information to Intercounty 1961confirm our thoughts about Dan Jackson (that it is the same Daniel Jackson who played in South Dakota, Saskatoon and in the Intercounty League). 

It turns out Dick was quite a player himself, who tied Jackson for the homer crown in 1961.  He had an oh-so-brief stint in pro ball, but came away with a 1.000 career batting average (after getting a hit in his only at bat). 

Ken ArmstrongBob Linck, Tom Mulcahy-      Tom Mulcahy (Lloydminster 1954, Williston 1955) again has provided invaluable information with his latest package from the south. 

Tom, who is back in Montana, has some fascinating letters from Lloydminster Meridian and Williston Oiler officials trying to recruit him and other players for their squads in the mid 1950s. 

One of the letters has helped to put a name to another of the photos.  That's Ken Armstrong (above right) who was on the Lloydminster roster in 1954.  Armstrong, 6'6" was a basketball and baseball star from Sandpoint, Idaho who went on to play at Gonzaga, Mulcahy's alma mater. 

Also in the package was a photo of the 1951-52 New Deal basketball club.  Among the team members were Tom (right) and Bob Linck (left), another former Lloydminster player.

Len Tucker-      Jim Lester (Granum 1956-57, Lethbridge 1959-61) has stumbled upon another artifact of Len Tucker's (Kamsack 1952, Saskatoon 1957, Lethbridge 1961)  pro career in Peoria, Illinois. Jim found a program from the 1954 Chiefs and there in the upper right is Len Tucker's autograph!

Brick Swegle-      Among the photos which turned up in some National Baseball Congress books is that of S.L. Brick Swegle who organized the tours of the California Mohawks baseball barnstorming teams of 1949 and 1950. 

He was the California state commissioner for the NBC. Swegle also brought basketball squads to Western Canada in the early 1950s.  One of them featured future NBA Hall of Famer Bill Russell. I've tracked down a photo of Swegle with Russell and a couple of teammates from their 1952 match at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver.  I am hoping the good folks at UBC can find a high quality copy of the photo.

-    Another of the photo additions to the site is the picture of the 1958 Drain Black Sox, champions of the National Baseball Congress tournament.  The Sox were frequent visitors to Southern Alberta.  And, there's the 1954 Huron Elks of the Basin League.  It's of pretty poor quality and has some mistakes in the identification of players, but at very least it's a place-holder for a good quality version.   Also in place, is a team photo of the 1958 Bow Island Combines .

Bill Oakley     Sterling Slaughter

-    Among the college stars to perform on the prairies were Bill Oakley, Cal, Berkeley, (above left) and Sterling Slaughter, Arizona State, (right).  They were teammates on the Lloydminster Meridians. Oakley, who was first noted for his hitting, was a college star for the California Bears. He had a 1.63 earned run average in 1962 when he was selected as the team's Most Valuable Player.  Over three seasons, Oakley compiled an earned run average of 2.09. He was among a dozen Cal Berkeley diamond stars to play in Western Canada. Slaughter, who was traded to Calgary early in the 1960 season and went on to lead the league in ERA, was an All-American at ASU, the university's first such selection.

Don Lee-    Some of the photos, while not new, have been redone to present them in a larger size.  The Williston player photos on the 1955 ManDak snapshot page are an example.  That's right-handed pitcher Don Lee (left) who followed his father's footsteps to have a mound career in the major leagues.

-    Kudos to Jeanne Narum, Circulation Services & Technology Coordinator, at the Minot Public Library.  Jeanne has been very kind to dig out some newspaper clippings and to send them along. 

Also, thanks to the folks at the Brandon, Manitoba Public Library for their diligent work in finding a clipping of an elusive Manitoba League game from the 50s.

-    On the lookout for a good quality version of this 1951 photo of the Trail Smoke Eaters baseball clubDan Geronazzo, whose dad played on the club, is anxious to have a copy of the team picture.  If you can help out please sent a note.

-    Phil Risinger (Medicine Hat 1957-58) has been such a stalwart in sending along material from Oklahoma, including some video of the state's big celebration and photos of the Bricktown Ballpark at Oklahoma City.  Now in it's eleventh year, with statues of Mickey Mantle, Johnny Bench and Warren Spahn, this is a ball fan's delight.  Fans could get spoiled in such surroundings! 

I've surprised myself by being able to impart some Oklahoma facts to Phil - such as the football pipeline between the Sooners and the Edmonton Eskimos.  For awhile, the Eskimos were Sooners North.

Lincoln Boyd feature

-    There's a bit of a coincidence recently in running across an article (either in the Globe and Mail or the National Post) on the huge retirement complex in Florida called The Villages

As part of the article there was a stunning photo of a convoy of golf carts, which appeared to be the main form of transportation within the gated community. 

The item caught my attention as it had been just a few weeks previous that Gary Corsair, senior writer from the paper serving The Villages, had been in touch to ask for help on an article (left) about Lincoln Boyd, a former Western Canada player, who broke the colour barrier in Leesburg in the Florida State League.  Gary penned a very interesting piece.  Although he too could not find out what happened to the speedy outfielder who had some potent seasons in pro ball before just disappearing.  That's another mystery we'd love to solve.

-    Within the next few weeks I hope to post a major, major update to the Players' List to include players from the Southern League, Basin League and Alberta Leagues. 

It's a huge undertaking and it is difficult to figure out a form in which to present the material, but it will be done nonetheless.


04 May, 2008

-    Wow. Rich Necker has now completed another three seasons of game-by-game reports and rosters for the Southern (Saskatchewan) League.  Check 'em out - 1959, 1960, 1961.

-   There are still a couple of unidentified players from the 1942 Regina Red Sox photos.  The new page consolidates information and re-organizes the photos.

Armando Vasquez-    Armando Vasquez (left), former Brandon Grey of the ManDak (Manitoba-Dakota) League, passed away in March in New York.  He was 86.

Colleague Tom Hawthorn had a nice piece on Vasquez in the Globe and Mail.  The versatile Cuban was a major force for the Greys over parts of five seasons, 1948 to 1952.  Normally, the Brandon first baseman, Vasquez (who played under the name of Bus Quinn in 1948) also was sterling moundsman compiling records of 10-1 and 12-1 in his first two seasons. 

He had come to Canada from the Negro Leagues which had begun to collapse in the late 1940s after Jackie Robinson paved the way for blacks in the major leagues.  Vasquez was saluted by the Manitoba Baseball Hall of Fame in a special ceremony in June, 2006.  He was a major figure in Robert Huculak's documentary on the ManDak League aired by CTV Winnipeg in June of last year.

-    Good to hear from Sean Osborne from Los Angeles. Sean is a friend of former Edmonton Eskimo Ray Barboza (homer king in 1961) .  Here's hoping Ray can dig out some stuff on his season in Edmonton.

-    Gary Corsair of The Villages Daily Sun (Florida) did a nice feature on Lincoln Boyd who played on the prairies in 1949 and 1950 and integrated the Florida State League in 1953.

Jose Roman-    Agustin Roman has been keeping me up to date in his search for information on his father Jose Roman (right).  I'm not certain whether Jose played in Canada, but the detective work is interesting nonetheless. 

Among other things, Agustin has located a photo of his dad from his 1951 season with the Modesto Reds of the California League.  Roman had joined the Reds after a 17-6 season in the Sunset League with Mexicali.

-    Cherine Tyler-Archer has been in touch with some sad news - her dad Walter Tyler passed away in March.  Tyler had a brief, but successful spin in the Western Canada League in 1953-54.  He went on to play in pro ball in Arizona and Mexico compiling batting marks of .405, .344, .392, .379, .310 and .321.


22 April, 2008

-    Thanks to Rich Necker, there's another two years of Southern League game-by-game results and rosters posted! The 1957 and 1958 seasons are now pretty well complete except for a few missing batteries.  Now, I am on the lookout for any player photos.

-    In a brilliant piece on American politics by Allen Abel in Canada's National Post (April 19), a photo of the Indianapolis Clowns was included.  It is believed to be of the 1960, 1961 or 1962 team.


15 April, 2008

-   During a telephone conversation Monday, Jim Lester and I wondered about Roy Taylor, the former COS coach and WCBL manager.  Sad to say, I've been informed that Roy's wife Hattie passed away last month at the age of 90.  Roy and Hattie had been married for almost 64 years.  Roy has been one of the most dedicated supporters of this site, in spite of health problems over the past few years.

-    Rich Necker has now updated the Southern League (rosters and game-by-game reports) for 1956.  And, he's managed to get the names for the photo of the 1955 Regina Junior Cardinals.


9 April, 2008

-    The prolific Rich Necker has been keeping me on the run! He's now updated the Southern League rosters and game-by-game reports through 1955.  This is great work.  He's also prompted me to expand the photo section for the Southern League and the 1954 entry is a part of it.  So far only Moose Jaw players appear on the 1954 page, but I'm sure we will begin to fill in out in short order.  Rich has also provided some stats.  So far, they are posted on the game-by-game pages.

-    There remain a few unidentified players from the Regina photo spread of the 1942 team.  Please check out the Regina Red Sox 1942 page and see if you can ID any of the missing ones.

-    There are lots of little additions to the site, including the barnstorming clowns - Ed Hamman and King Tut - and a note about the curious Calgary Black Sox of 1921.

-    Minor mysteries - trying to find background information on Casey Jones (Edmonton Eskimos 1961) and Hank Bayliss.  Bayliss says he played semi-pro in Canada.  It would been in the mid 1950s.  Anyone familiar with the name?  I believe Jones, an outfielder, played in pro ball in Tucson in 1957.  Bayliss (spelled with one "s" at times) played in the Negro League with Birmingham and Kansas City in the late 1940s and early 1950s.


4 March, 2008

-    Kudos to Rich Necker!  Back in Regina from a break in the Dominican, Rich has been working away on information from Saskatchewan baseball in the early 1950s.  We are happy to present the nearly complete game-by-game reports for the 1951 Western Canada League and the 1951 Southern League

Chico O'Farrill-    A round of applause for Tony Campos of Cuba for his diligence in finding material relevant to our little enterprise. 

In searching for reports when his dad played in Nicaragua, Tony came across information on former Western Canada star Orlando "Chico" O'Farrill.  Seems O'Farrill, who was born in Havana in 1922, has worked as a coach in Nicaragua for 50 years and still lives there.  The shortstop played in Indian Head and North Battleford in Saskatchewan along with stints in his native Cuba, Mexico and Columbia.  There's a lovely feature on O'Farrill available here.

Dan Jackson    -    Dan Jackson?  In stumbling across some photos of a Dan Jackson (right) as playing-manager of the Guelph team of the Intercounty League of Southern Ontario, 1958-1961, I wondered if it was the same Dan Jackson who played with Saskatoon Gems in 1957.   And, could it be the same Daniel "Thumper" Jackson who won the South Dakota State League batting title in 1952 with a .450 average in playing for the Bridgewater Coyotes?  He was reported to be from Kansas City. 

Steve OdneySteve Odney 2000-   Steve Odney (left in 1956, right in 2000 at the reunion of Granum and Lethbridge teams), a fixture on Southern Alberta baseball diamonds from the mid 1940s through the late 1950s, passed away February 15th at Calgary, Alberta.  Stephen Hugh Odney was 80.  The power-hitting outfielder  was selected for the Lethbridge Sports Hall of Fame in 1988. 

After baseball and fastball (Calgary Doodlebugs) Steve worked in the oil and automotive industries for over thirty years, before turning his abilities to commercial real estate in Calgary in the 1980's. 

Work opportunities took the family from Calgary to Edmonton to Moncton, NB, to Vancouver and back to the prairies in 1969.  He took delight in his golf game and put in much time at the Confederation Golf Course. 

He is survived by his wife Shirley, three children, Jody, Blair and Pam, along with six grand children and three great grandchildren. 

Modie Risher-    Some catchup on former Lloydminster Meridian Modie Risher.  Last summer, Risher (right) was inducted into the Charleston Baseball Hall of Fame. 

" ... A standout three-sport athlete at Burke High School, Modie Risher went on to play in a Negro Baseball League for the Jacksonville Eagles, where he faced off against such legends as Satchel Paige, Josh Gibson, and Jackie Robinson. He also played locally for the Charleston Black Socks and the Orangeburg Tigers. Following his playing career, Risher was a highly successful coach at his alma mater, Burke High, where he coached baseball and football for more than 25 years."

In 2006, the Charleston County Council voted, unanimously, to name the Burke High School Gymnasium in honour of Modie, a former three-sport star at Burke and, for decades, the school's football, baseball and basketball coach and athletic director. Mode and his wife DeLaris were at a special ceremony where the announcement was made. The event was held at the start of the Modie Risher Invitational Basketball Tournament. 

Len Tucker-    Happy to report that MinorLeagueBaseball.com has a feature on Len Tucker, the former Saskatoon slugger (who also played in Kamsack, Saskatchewan and Lethbridge, Alberta).  The site had earlier published a feature on Curly Williams (see below). 

Tucker, the first black player to be signed by the St. Louis Cardinals, had several outstanding minor league seasons but never received a shot to make a major league roster.  In one amazing season, with Pampa, Texas of the Southwestern League, Tucker hit .404 with 51 home runs, 40 doubles, 13 triples,181 runs batted in, and 47 steals. 

-    More mysteries!  A pleasure to hear from the daughter-in-law of Sully Glasser, a football and baseball star on the prairies in the 1940s and 1950s.  Robin has found a collection of photos (seemingly taken by Sully as he's not in the pictures) of the Regina Red Sox of the 1940s.  We need some help in identifying the players.  If you can help please drop a line.  

It's believed the photos are from the 1942 club.  Any information -- player's name, year, ball park, whatever -- will be appreciated.

Walter McCoyWalt and grandson-    Thanks again to Dan Doyle of San Diego for keeping us in touch with former Negro League and ManDak star Walter McCoy (left, in his heyday with the Chicago American Giants, right with his grandson in San Diego).

Through Dan, Walter has sent along some clippings and photos.  Included were reports on some games when Pfc. McCoy was the pitching star for the Fort Huachuca club in Arizona. Among other efforts, he had a no-hitter and a one-hitter with 15 strikeouts (in a 7 inning affair). 

-    Jim Lester, the former Granum all-star, has sent along some news from Fresno State, including the disturbing news that the Bulldogs face some financial difficulties.  Seems pledges to the Bulldog Foundation have fallen considerably during the past few years and the university, students and fundraisers have some tough challenges ahead.


07 February, 2008

Curly Williams, Lloydminster, 1956-    Major League Baseball on their MiLB.com site is featuring an article on Curly Williams one of the few remaining stars of the Negro Baseball leagues and a star both on and off the diamond in Lloydminster, Saskatchewan during a decade long career in the prairie community.

Curly, who now resides in Sarasota, Florida, was Mr. Baseball in the Lloydminster area during the mid-50s and early 60s.  He was the club's playing manager during his last three seasons.

"Curly Williams was one of the finest gentlemen that I ever met.  (He) was always helping the kids.  We'd get these young college boys and Curly was in there talking to them, showing them how to do it.  Curly was a Triple-A ball player, and he stayed with us as long as our league lasted."

(Slim Thorpe, in 75 Years of Sport & Culture in Lloydminster)

Our salute to Curly is here.

Billy HarrisGladwyn Scott-    Congratulations to Gladwyn Scott (right) and Billy Harris (left), two of the latest to be inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame! 

Scott has long been a force on the field and as a volunteer for baseball in Manitoba.  He's been instrumental in the establishment of the Manitoba Baseball Hall of Fame at Morden. 

Harris was a junior star in New Brunswick before helping Moncton to the senior provincial title in 1950. 

Signed by the Brooklyn Dodgers, out of high school, Harris had an eye-opening pro debut going 18-9, 2.15 in his first season.  The 5'8", 185 pound right-hander was even better the following season, 1952, winning 25 games, including 12 shutouts, 29 complete games in 32 starts and a 0.83 ERA with Miami of the Florida International League.  He threw a no-hitter in Double-A in 1953 and made his way to the majors for one game in 1957. Harris pitched for parts of nine seasons in Triple-A. 

The pair, along with former Blue Jay shortstop Tony Fernandez will be enshrined on June 28th at a special ceremony in St. Mary's, Ontario.  Peter Widdrington, the Blue Jays' Chairman of the Board during their back-to-back World Series titles in 1992-93 will also be inducted posthumously.

 -    Again, kudos to Rich Necker and Kelly Powell for digging through the microfilm and providing interesting stories on Saskatchewan baseball in the late 40s and early 50s.  In talking to members of some of those teams from the 50s, Rich got confirmation of a story about the end of Cliff Beisel's pitching career.  Rich heard from Cliff's former teammate Vic Wall about the incident and then had Cliff himself confirm the 1950 injury.

" ... Cliff was pitching at Mitchell Field in Swift Current when there was a loud popping noise, audible to both the fans and players alike, as he made his delivery to the plate. As fate would have it, the eerie sound was the result of the fracturing of his pitching arm between the shoulder and elbow. Needless to say, that put an end to his days as a pitcher but didn't finish his playing days as he continued on for a number of seasons thereafter as an outfielder."


17 January, 2008

-    Much thanks going out to Rich Necker and Kelly Powell (son of Walter Powell, one of the 1950 Swift Current Indians) for doggedly tracking down names to go along with two team photos from 1950.  Vic Wall (another one of the 1950 players) and his daughter Debra  were instrumental in assisting in this effort.  Isn't it something - 57 years after the event, we've managed to identify most of the players in the 1950 photos of the Swift Current Indians and the Regina Caps

Still, one player needs to be identified in the Regina photo and just a couple in the Swift Current team photograph.  Please check them out. Maybe you can help !

-    He did cover a lot of ground !  Brack Bailey has added Africa to his travels.  Just before Christmas, the former outfield star of the Dodger system (and the Granum White Sox), returned from a vacation in Africa.  He's probably working out now in preparation for another season on the diamond (see below). 

-    In surfing through the site, Jim Lester got a kick out of the photo of the New Club Cafe in Vulcan, Alberta.  Jim, who accidentally suited up for Vulcan (he was supposed to be playing for Granum) in his first action in Canada, fondly remembers the folks at the New Club.  "They were so nice to me.  Every time we came to play in Vulcan they made me feel like they knew me forever." 

Jim was also reminded of some of the road trips (remember now, these are the days of mainly gravel roads).  The Lethbridge to Saskatoon trip was about 400 miles. In those days, that could be a seven or eight hour trip.

Sons of the San Joaquin-    In answering an email question about Jack and Joe Hannah, I happened across the cover photo of one of their award-winning albums. 

The Sons of the San Joaquin (that's Lon, Jack and Joe Hannah left to right) captured the 2005 Western Heritage Award for Outstanding Traditional Western Album from the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum (Cowboy Hall of Fame) for their album Way Out Yonder. 

-    Always interesting how some contacts are made.  Many months back, as part of a search for another former Western Canada player, Ramona Elliott happened to mention J.B. Carroll another former WCBLer.  A mention of J.B. brought a response from his daughter Amy and subsequently a note from the former Regina, Saskatoon and Lloydminster star.  More to follow.

-    My appeals for help in gathering relics of the Basin League have brought several responses, including a note from Doug Raynie of South Dakota State University.  Doug is beginning work on a book on baseball in South Dakota and it's hoped we can share some information.

-    Thanks again to Phil Risinger who has been amazing in digging up details on Oklahoma players and making some videos of events in the state. 

-    Paul Spyhalski, who is working on a history of a Texas-based Negro team of the 1930s, has been in touch.  The Texas Black Spiders (with Rufus and George Ligon aboard) captured the Iowa State title in 1937 (playing out of Waverly, Iowa).  Paul is attempting to document their 1938 season.  I am trying to track down a report that the Spiders played in Regina in the mid to late 30s.

-    Good to hear from Dan Doyle of San Diego (and to know all is well after the horrible fires in the area last year).  Dan is sending along some material on Walter McCoy (ManDak League 1952-1955).  I spoke with Walter before Christmas and he's in good spirits. 

-    Ah too bad. Don Tauscher, of Winter Park, Florida, has scoured his attic and garage, but still no sign of his scrapbooks from his days pitching in the Basin League.  I supposed it's understandable given it's more than 50 years after the fact !

-    Lorne Plaxin reports he's still on the trail of photos of the 1949 San Francisco Sea Lions, including Sammy Workman, the team's mascot.  With permission of the Oakland Museum I hope soon to have additional photos of Workman posted in the next few weeks.


16 December, 2007

Brack Bailey-    Really good to hear from Brack Bailey, the former Granum and Lethbridge star. (At left, what should have been - Bailey with the Dodgers.) Bailey has recently celebrated his 70th birthday and is still going strong. 

If you dig around on the internet, you'll find he suited up for softball this past summer and his team won the North Carolina championship.  Of course, he made the All-Star team! Bailey was also in the lineup at the National Senior Games (for South Carolina) in Louisville.  He took the opportunity to tour the Louisville Slugger factory and Wall of Fame Museum.  As part of a display, there are the signatures of all the players who signed batting contracts with Hillerich & Bradsby (of course, Brack's signature was there from his time in the Dodger system). 

Did you know that Braxton was twice named as a Player of the Year by Topps - in 1961 in the Alabama-Florida League and 1964 in the Texas League (when "all" he did was hit .321 with 28 doubles, 17 triples and 19 homers and knock in 100 runs).

Bat boy for the Twins-    You never know where these stories will lead. As you know, I'm partial to stories about bat boys.  Dan Doyle of San Diego, who has been so helpful in putting me in touch with Walter McCoy, happened to mention his brother once had a job as a bat boy. 

Well, it turns out it was a tad higher on the scale than the Lloydminster Meridians of the Western Canada League.  Dan's brother Andy Doyle was bat boy for the Minnesota Twins (that's Andy, extreme left, front row). 

" ... He was 13 or so when he was hanging around the ballpark and they asked him if he could help carry some gear and that led to a 4 year job as ball boy/batboy. Unfortunately he kept very little of all the stuff he had that players gave him such as gloves, bats, hats etc. My favorite was the the special glove Phil Roof gave him for catching knuckleball pitchers. He played high school ball and was pretty good but didn't continue on. He did coach a bit and I always thought he'd of been a good manager as he knows so much about the game. He used to say all you had to do was stand next to Twins manager Gene Mauch for one game and you'd learn more than years of playing."   Dan Doyle on brother Andy.

-    There are some further updates to the Lester Haynes page and to the George Wesley tribute along with an interesting aerial photo of Granum, Alberta in 1958.


15 December, 2007

-    Tony Campos sends along some further information on Solly Drake, left,  (see below).  Drake was the star for the Mariano Tigers of Cuba at the 1956-1957 Caribbean Series.  Drake was selected as the Most Valuable Player as he led Cuba to the title.  Drake hit .455 with nine runs scored and four stolen bases. 

During the regular winter season for Mariano he led the league in runs (46) and tied for the lead in steals (11).  Other stars in that team were Jim Bunning and Minnie Miñoso. Also were Orlando Leroux and Julio Becquer, teammates of Tony's dad in Drummondville, Quebec in 1952.

-    Rich Necker has been going great guns in adding to our coverage of the Southern League of Saskatchewan.  Already he's updated our 1948 and 1949 game-by-game summaries and team rosters (and these are very time consuming to accomplish).  In addition he's been a great help in identifying players on that 1950 Regina Caps team.  We're now down to just four players who have not yet been identified. Rich figures Bill Kyle and Ed Heidt are among the last four, perhaps with a coach and batboy as the others.  Rich has also dug out material on the 1953 edition of the Ligon All-Stars who set down in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan for the first part of the summer as a home base. 

-    I 'm also working on trying to identify members of the 1950 Swift Current team.  Kelly Powell, whose dad and uncle, played for Swift Current and Sceptre clubs back in the 40s and 50s has already been in touch and is trying to help out. 


11 December, 2007

David Moriarty-   It's been such a treat to have made contact with former Lloydminster Meridian David Moriarty.

That's the young David, left, during his days in the Army (circa 1962).  He spent nearly six years in military service, Army and Navy, winning commendations for his service, before launching a sales and management career working with some awfully prominent people at the Famous Artists, Writers, and Photographers School in Westport, Connecticut (Norman Rockwell, the artist, Rod Serling of the Twilight Zone, Alfred Eisenstadt, the Dean of Life Magazine photographers, and Bennett Cerf of What's My Line fame and the Random House were the four main principals of the school).

David's dad, George, was a renown former major league player, George Moriartymanager, umpire and scout.  He played in the majors from 1903 to 1916 (at right is his baseball card from the 1911 season with Detroit).

It was quite a local event when George came to visit his son during the 1957 season.  David, playing the outfield for Lloydminster, hit .300 with a .417 on-base percentage, in spite of suffering an injured shoulder in making a spectacular catch in Saskatoon to save a game for the Meridians. 

David has fond memories of my old hometown :

"The Lloydminster fans and ... fans in the rest of the league were awesome in their deportment, civility, and personal demeanor. In earlier years Lloydminster could have hosted King Arthur and the Knights of The Round Table. That last going-away party that many of the town folks threw for us was incredible."

He well remembered my parent's cafe :

"The Elite Café was famous for four accouterments :
1. They cashed the ballplayers paychecks; 
2. They held our tabs until the end of the month [beyond, if necessary, especially
     for the ballplayers that had families];
3. Superb meatloaf lunch;
4. And, above all, their tapioca pudding."

Nimitz funeral

In 1966, during his stint as a Naval Officer (attached to the Navy Judge Advocate General Corps, Treasure Island, San Francisco) Moriarty (at the far left in the photograph) was a key officer at the funeral of legendary Fleet Admiral Chester Nimitz.

Nimitz had led Allied forces to victory in the Pacific in the Second World War, including the decisive Battle of Midway.

Cardinal Francis Spellman, bottom left in the photo, (for a quarter century, one of the most influential religious leaders in the United States and confidant of President Kennedy)  said the funeral mass.  Spellman, prominent in America's involvement in Vietnam, died a year later. The photo is quite a keepsake. 

Moriarty weddingLater the same year - 1966 - David and Cathy would be married in the same church (left).  In just a few days they will be celebrating their 41st anniversary!

David and Cathy are helping to track down other members of those Lloydminster's teams of the 1950s.  Among those on our list are Don Kuodis and Bob Bayless.  David, at the time a student at the University fo Wisconsin, played with Lloydminster in 1957 and 1959 after a season in the Basin League in 1956. 

-   Much thanks to Rich Necker for digging out info on prairie baseball, including material on the Southern Saskatchewan League and some old issues of the Rosetown Eagle. 

It had been hoped to discover the elusive photograph of Rosetown's 1954 entry in the Western Canada League, but no such luck (as yet).  However, Rich did find a page with individual pictures of most members of the team.  Unfortunately, only the microfilm survives and, as you well know, the quality of microfilm photos is usually quite poor.  Nonetheless we've managed to fiddle enough with the photocopies of the microfilm that I hope most of the players seem to be recognizable.  It is however, really unfortunate that the photo of Howard Warfield is the worst of the bunch.  It was Howard's relatives who first prompted me to try and find the photos.

Preston Bessicks
Preston Bessicks
Ben Brown
Ben Brown 
Boyd Brown
Boyd Brown
Buddy Burbage
Buddy Burbage 
Arlington Henderson
Arlington Henderson
Reg Jackson
Reg Jackson
Harold Johnson
Harold Johnson
Lionel King
Lionel King
Felton Morrison
Felton Morrison
Sy Morton
Cy Morton 
Dick Price
Dick Price
Lefty Summers
Lefty Summers
Howard Warfield
Howard Warfield
   

-   Kent Morgan, whose work on Manitoba baseball and softball is well known, was kind enough to send along a report he and colleague Dutch Holland wrote for The Prime Times on Solly Drake, who played for Elmwood in the Manitoba Senior League and the ManDak League in 1949 and 1950.  He made it to the major leagues with the Cubs, Dodgers and Phillies. In September, Drake was honoured in Los Angeles :

" ... After his baseball career ended, Drake earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Philander Smith College and a Masters from Fuller Theological Seminary.  Today the Rev. Dr. Solomon Drake is the pastor of the Greater Ebenezer Missionary Baptist Church in south Los Angeles. The congregation numbers 5,000 and Rev. Drake conducts three services every Sunday.  On Sept. 16 and 23, the church held special Love and Appreciation Services for their pastor and his wife Sister Isabelle Drake.  The couple, described as "our beloved pastor and our beloved first lady" was honoured for 25 years of service.

In 2005 at its annual induction dinner in Morden, the Manitoba Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum unveiled a plaque that recognized the impact the ManDak League had on Manitoba baseball.  Solly Drake and his younger brother Sammy, who played with Carman Cardinals, were two of the players mentioned on the plaque.  They were the first African-American brothers to play in the National League ...  Sammy asked the provincial HOF to present a replica plaque to his brother as a surprise during the anniversary celebrations.  They flew president Jack Callum to Los Angeles for the Sept. 25 service.  Callum told the congregation that Solly made an immediate impact when he joined the Elmwood Giants and a Winnipeg reporter called him "the finest ballplayer these eyes have seen in a long time."

... At the Sept. 18 service, former Dodgers Tommy Davis, Lou Johnson and Maury Wills joined in the celebration.  Solly's Chicago teammate Ernie Banks was unable to attend, but send a message of congratulations.  So did former Dodgers manager Tom Lasorda."

     Honours for Solly Drake     Elmwood Giants uniform

Left - (left to right)  - Solly Drake, Jimmy Haas, Sammy Drake and Jack Callum. Right - Drake presented with an Elmwood uniform.

Solly was presented with a replica of the Elmwood Giants' jersey by Jimmy Haas the team's former batboy.  His father, Curly, was the club's manager.

-   "Go home Yankee!"  Jim Lester says it was a bit of a shock when he heard it from the fans at the Lacombe Tournament.  As he was the only American at the time on the Granum team, it didn't take a rocket scientist to figure out he was the target.  He quickly realized it was all good natured stuff and he adapted so well he kept coming back!

-   Trying to identify the players on the 1950 Swift Current Indians. A long shot to be sure, but if you know of any source to assist, please advise.


20 November, 2007

Beans Risinger-   One more athlete from the Oklahoma Risinger clan - Earlene "Beans" Risinger was quite a pitcher, a righthander, who suited up for seven years, 1948 to 1954, in the All American Girls Professional Baseball League (popularized by the movie, A League Of Their Own).

She spent most of her career with the Grand Rapids Chicks.  Her best season was likely the 1953 campaign when she won 15 games with a 1.75 ERA in 231 innings.  In the league final, she struck out the final batter with the bases loaded to give Grand Rapids the championship.

Beans, who grew up during tough times in the dust bowl era in Oklahoma, settled in Grand Rapids after her baseball career and has just recently returned home.  Thanks to Phil Risinger for Beans' baseball card. 

-   Don Metz has died at age 91 after a brief illness. Metz, from a farming family near Wilcox, Saskatchewan, was a key member of the Toronto Maple Leafs in the 1940s and a familiar face on baseball diamonds on the prairies. 

In 1942, he was on the Leaf club which dropped the first three games of the Stanley Cup final then rebounded to win four straight to capture the championship.  He also helped Toronto win the Stanley Cup in 1945, 1947, 1948 and 1949.  Brother Nick was also a member of those championship teams.  The Metz brothers were strengths of the Wilcox baseball teams of the 40s and 50s.


18 November, 2007

Lester Slim Haynes-   It's been an adventure to track down some of the details on the career of prairie legend Slim Haynes of Stavely teams from 1909 through the early 40s. 

Bill Malchow has been very helpful in providing information on Haynes and sending along photos of the big moundsman.  Bill had the opportunity to know Haynes :

"When I was 13 my Dad hired Slim to run one of his combines and I ran the tractor. It was in the fall and the World series was on.

We never got out in the field in the afternoon until the game was over!"

"Both Slim and his catcher "Hap" Rea were offered tryouts ]by major league teams]. Slim played for fun only and Hap told me that he turned it down because they would not give him a ticket back home if he didn't make the team. At that time he had a job at the coal mine in Lethbridge and played for the Lethbridge Miners. This took place in the 30's when you didn't have extra cash for train fare.

Slim had very good control and Hap had the ability to figure out where the batters' weak spot was ... Slim is in the Alberta Sportsman's Hall of fame in Red Deer."


17 November, 2007

Don TauscherDon Tauscher 1955 -   Lots of Basin League updates, especially the game-by-game reports and batteries for the 1955 season and some stats (1955, 1958, 1960, 1961).  There's still lots of work to do on those pages in checking spellings and adding some first names and positions. 

Among the findings on the internet - Don Tauscher who pitched for Huron Elks in 1955 after a stint in the Southern Minny League the previous summer. 

At the left, that's Don from his glory days - a Hall of Famer -  at Rollins College (Florida), and, right, in 2005 at a reunion at Rollins. 


15 November, 2007

-    A big pat on the back to Rich Necker for digging through the newspaper archives in Moose Jaw and Regina.  Already he's come up with some dandy stuff - some statistics for the 1950 Southern League season and game reports (check out the playoff reports down at the bottom of the page). This is especially helpful as I currently don't have access to microfilm of the old newspapers.  Thank you Rich !

-    There have been significant updates of Basin League material, in particular the 1955 game reports and additions to the photo galleries.  The Basin League photos are not of very good quality but I thought I'd keep them on the pages if only as place holders for better quality versions should that ever occur.  The Basin League game reports have yet to be proofed, so there's likely to be a fair number of typos and inconsistencies in spellings.  Hope to have that checked out in a week or so.

-    Ray Nemec has forwarded information on the passing of Sam Williams a former Negro League pitcher who played a little with the Brandon Greys of the ManDak League in 1952. 

Williams (Samuel C.) died in August at San Jose, California.  In 1953, with Pampa of the West Texas-New Mexico League, Williams appeared in 52 games, with 25 complete games, in winning 25 of 37 decisions.  His best season may have been in 1956 when he went 15-9, 3.10, 19 complete games with San Jose of the California League.  


12 November, 2007

-    Thanks to Phil Risinger, there are many more updates to the 1957 and 1958 Alberta pages, including the photo galleries - samples below :

John Adams
John Adams
Don Kirk
Don Kirk
Jim Lester
Jim Lester
Bill Chacalias
Bill Chacalias
Elroy Schaufele
Elroy Schaufele
Don Swedelsky
Don Schwedelsky
Zeke Ziebert
Zeke Ziebart

09 November, 2007

-    Oh my what a happy day! After nearly 50 years contact with former Lloydminster Meridian David Moriarty.  I've been searching for David for years without success.  It turns out a message I left on a genealogical web site in 2001 (on April Fool's Day no less) caught the recent attention of David's son Sean.  More to come! 

Barry Swanton-    Congrats to colleague Barry Swanton!  That's Barry being presented with the 2007 Griffin Award for his book The ManDak League.  On the left, making the presentation, is Ursula Maxwell-Lewis, director of the Surrey International Writers' Conference.  The photo is from the Cloverdale Reporter (Vancouver area).

-    Lots of updates on various Basin League seasons, including standings, game reports and photo galleries.  Interesting to discover that both Ron Perranoski and Dick Radatz were teammates on the mound staff of Watertown Lake Sox in 1957.  What a combo. 

-    Also, some updates to the Southern (Saskatchewan) League pages courtesy of Rich Necker (you'll likely recall the name from our coverage here).  Rich, the former batboy for the Florida Cubans, has been kind enough to sift through some microfilm from the Regina and Moose Jaw papers.  Even without digging through the old papers, Rich has sent along some additions to the game reports and especially the team rosters. 

-    Our Oklahoma correspondent Phil Risinger has been marvelous in sending along tons of info from his days in Southern Alberta with Medicine Hat. 

Phil had added material from the Basin League and some Oklahoma college material as well. Below left - Eddie Fisher (left), who pitched in the Basin League in 1956 and 1957 with Mitchell Kernels before a major league career, with another former major leaguer and Oklahoma product, Lindy McDaniel.  Below right - Jack Shirley (Mitchell Kernels 1956-1957) is on the left with his former coach, Elwood Riley.  Shirley was the ace moundsman for Riley's Oklahoma champion American Legion team in 1945.

   Fisher & McDaniel     Shirley & Riley

-    Nice to hear from Jack Crouch (Yankton Terrys, Basin League, 1957). Jack, who also played in the Halifax and District League, is going to sort through the attic and garage in an attempt to find some scrapbooks. Thank you Jack!

Roberto Ledo-    From Cuba, Tony Campos (his dad played in Williston in the ManDak League in 1954 after having played in Quebec's Provincial League in 1952) again provides a major assist in trying to track down more details about Roberto Ledo (left), a celebrated coach and manager in Cuba. 

We believe it was the same Roberto Ledo who played in Saskatchewan with the Florida Cubans in 1952 and came to Winnipeg in 1967 to manage the Cuban team at the Pan-American Games.

Ledo had won his place in Cuban baseball history in piloting the Orientales to the championship in 1967 defeating the powerful Industriales. Tony remembers him well :

"He was such a character. I saw him once asking for a time out only to send to the bench a important player because he saw him yawning in a 1-1 tie, extra inning game.

Also I remember that I saw him in the parking of the stadium when his players were entering the bus not orderly but in a mess and he made them leave the bus and get on again tidily and in line. He was very strict with team discipline, in and out of the ball park. And I tell you, the Orientales were tough guys."


02 November, 2007

Bill Fennessey-    We've lost another.  Bill Fennessey, long-time outfield star with Granum and Calgary clubs, passed away in Calgary on October 1st at the age of 75. 

Bill, who grew up on a farm northeast of Calgary, was an outstanding athlete who began to concentrate on baseball in his teenage years and won a contract with the Brooklyn Dodgers.  He played briefly in the Dodgers' system before returning home to marry Joyce and begin a lengthy career with Westinghouse Canada. 

His 1953 season with the Purity 99s provided an early glimpse of his talent as he hit .410 to win the Chinook League batting title.  He would star on the diamonds of southern Alberta for at least a dozen seasons.  He was predeceased by his wife Joyce and son Kevin. He is survived by son Randy and his family. 


22 October, 2007

-     Again, many thanks to Bill Schulz for some great pictures and info on his baseball stint in Canada.  There's a couple of photos of Bill in his time with Regina in 1955, with most of his tour with Kamsack in 1954.  There's a whole page of marvelous stuff.  Some of the photos are similar to ones from Joan Parker/Kazakoff (which have been re-processed and enlarged). Altogether they form an impressive album of a summer in the life of these young men and women more than 50 years ago.  In the photo below, taken at the 1954 Indian Head Tournament, players relax during a game (or more likely, just previous to a game).  Left to right, Bob Holowaty, Jim Allen (bat boy), Ted Ellis, Roy Zivanich, Tom Higa, Tony Levaggi.  Kamsack won the event.

Kamsack tournament

Below, Kirby Wyllie and Ted Ellis as lumberjacks !  After the season, Wyllie, Ellis and Schulz stuck around to work for the power company clearing brush. 

Hacking away !

-     Sneaky.  Seeing double?  Perhaps just foresight - an early example of recyling !

Fred Sheppard ?   Larry Cunningham ?    Sam Wheeler ?   Zell Miles ?

Left pair - the far left photo was identified as Freddie Sheppard, centre fielder of the 1949 New Orleans Creoles. (The Winona Republican-Herald, July 30, 1949). The twin -  In a 1952 newspaper report on the Harlem Globetrotters, the photo was identified as Larry Cunningham, 'Trotters' centre fielder. (The Independent Record, Helena, Montana, June 29, 1952). 

Right pair - In July, 1947, he was Sam Wheeler. (The Ogden (Utah) Standard-Examiner, July 31, 1947).  In August, it was Zell Miles(The Winona Republican-Herald, August 26, 1947).

Zell Miles ?     Lyman Bostock ?     Double Duty ?     Parnell Woods ?

Above left - that's Zell Miles in 1947 according to The News Palladium, Benton Harbor, May 29, 1947.  On the right - Lyman Bostock in 1941. (Chester Times, August 6, 1941).

Right pair - In 1945, the photo is identified as Ted "Double Duty" Radcliffe. (The Ogden Standard-Examiner, August 20, 1945).  In 1950, however, he's Parnell Woods.  (Kokomo (Ind.) Tribune, May 31, 1950)


11 October, 2007

-     A month ago, Bill Schulz hosted a reunion of former Fresno State players, including nearly a dozen who played in Western Canada.  Bill has sent along some marvelous material which I'm beginning to work through.  Thanks to Bill and Jack Altman for getting the "Canadian" guys together for a photo.  Match up the 2007 versions with those from some 50 years previous.

Fresno reunion

Front (left to right) :  Joe Gaitan, Jack Altman, Bill Schulz.  Back (left to right) :  Bob Bennett, Jerry Sedoo, John Walker, Skip Winn, Jack Hannah, Bob Doig, George Read, Roy Zivanich.

Jack Hannah
Jack Hannah
Jack Altman
Jack Altman
Joe Gaitan
Joe Gaitan
Bill Schulz
Bill Schulz
George Read
George Read
Bobby Doig
Bob Doig
Skip Winn
Skip Winn
Bob Bennett
Bob Bennett
Jerry Sedoo
Jerry Seedo
Johnny Walker
Johnny Walker
Roy Zivanich
Roy Zivanich
 

03 October, 2007

-     A hearty round of applause for the folks in Rosetown, Saskatchewan for helping out in the search for artifacts on the 1954 Rosetown Phillies baseball club. 

Sharon at the Archives, David at the Rosetown Eagle, and Ernie at the Legion have been especially helpful.  This was the only season Rosetown was in the league.  A promoter out of Philadelphia put together an "all-colored" team and brought it to the Saskatchewan community for that well-remembered summer.

Somewhere, there is a photo of the team, but so far we've drawn a blank.  If you have any clues to help us out, please drop us a line.   Email me ! 

Bill Schulz-     I'm anxiously awaiting a package from Bill Schulz (right) the former catcher for Gilbert Plains, Kamsack and Regina (1953-55)who organized a reunion of players in Fresno last month.  Quite a few of those who attended played some ball up on the prairies.  Already Bill and the gang have helped out with identifications and rosters.

-     A major thank you to Lorne Plaxin!  His brother was a member of that 1949 Buchanan All-Star team which featured the remnants of the touring San Francisco Sea Lions. 

In June of 1949, the Sea Lions ran into financial troubles and most of the players decided to stick it out in Buchanan, Saskatchewan for the rest of the summer suiting up for the local squad.  Lorne has dug out a better copy of that team photo (and is still trying to improve on that) and has sent along a photo of the Sea Lions' Sammy Workman, the little guy without hands or feet who was a main attraction for the team.  He's also found a photo of an old-time Buchanan team, the 1910 championship club.  It's great stuff

-     Phil Risinger, the former Medicine Hat Superior (1957-58), has been busy down in Oklahoma sending along some packages of really helpful material.  The results are displayed in nooks and crannies throughout the site - pictures of Allen Kiddy and Tony Risinger on a Basin League page,  the long sought team photo of the 1958 Medicine Hat club, Don Schwall and Eddie Fisher photos on 1957 Basin League Photo Gallery, all those individual photos of Medicine Hat players, such as Lynn Duncan, in the 1958 Southern Alberta Photo Gallery, along with material which has been incorporated into the game-by-game reports for both Southern Alberta and the Basin Leagues. Thanks again Phil !

-     We've made a nice start on at least one year of Intercounty game reports.  It's the 1955 season which featured a fair number of players who also graced the rosters of teams in Western Canada -- Butch Lawing, Gentry Jessup, Wilmer Fields, Dan Lewandowski, Sonny Andrews and Chick Longest among them.  Of course, the summary on the 1948 London Majors has been posted for some time along with the team photo of that legendary team. There's also the individual profiles of Gabby Anderson and Jimmy Wilkes.  So, a few steps forward in trying to bring some coverage of the Southern Ontario league during the late 40s and 50s.

-     Also, with prompting from Phil Risinger's material, I've managed to get a pretty good start on Basin League coverage.  The 1957 season is the most complete so far with game-by-game reports, photos and rosters. 

-     Rich Necker of Regina, Saskatchewan, who provided the marvelous material on the Florida Cubans and Indian Head Rockets has helped to sort out the career of Roberto Ledo, one of the 1952 Cubans' stars who went on to a celebrated coaching career in his homeland.  With the assistance of Tony Campos in Cuba, it looks as if the Roberto Ledo who piloted the Cuban team at the Pan-American Games in Winnipeg in 1967 is the same as the 1952 Western Canada player. 

-     I was touched to receive a note from Patricia Walasko.  Her husband, William "Willie" Walasko, passed away early this year.  If you've surfed this site at all, you will be well aware of Bill's considerable accomplishments on the diamonds of southern Alberta, especially his 1956 season.  He was a big help in providing clippings and photos for this site.  He's really missed.


22 September, 2007

-     A nice surprise in the mail from Dr. Andrew Lillie (Roblin, Yorkton, Estevan, Grandview, Moose Jaw, 1951-1954) - the baseball insert from a July issue of the Moose Jaw Times-Herald.  The issue, which contains some write-ups on a few of the players, is particularly helpful as it features lots of pictures (all but Trimont Moose Jaw Mallards). 

Doc Lillie has also taken the time to help me out with details on many of his teammates and is still digging through boxes for a pictures of the Grandview and Estevan teams. Much appreciated. 

Andy Lillie
Andy Lillie
Creon Psome
Creon Psome
Bill Conroy
Bill Conroy
Eddie Girado
Eddie Girado
Collins Jones
Collins Jones
Dick Loe
Dick Loe
Russell Stuart
Russell Stuart
Penn Weldon
Penn Weldon
Bob Holowaty
Bob Holowaty
Percy Trimont
Percy Trimont

Cleveland Grant-     A little catch up.  Cleveland Grant (right) was among the headliners in February, 2006 at the annual “Smokey” Joe Williams Scholarship Gala at Seguin, Texas (near Austin & San Antonio). 

The gala also featured some of  the "Black Aces", pitchers who have won at least 20 games in a single major league season.  Fergie Jenkins, Vida Blue, JR Richard, Al Downing and Jim "Mudcat" Grant represented the group.  (Photo from www.sarahstim.com)

Cleveland GrantGrant (left, in 1948 with the Ligon's All-Stars) played in Regina and Moose Jaw in the Southern League in the 40s and was a member of the barnstorming Ligon's All-Stars.  He also suited up with the Kansas City Monarchs and Satchel Paige All-Stars.

Grant told the gathering that he didn't have an opportunity to go to high school as his hometown - Hondo, Texas - did not have a school for blacks and San Antonio was too far away. After some military service time, he managed to gain entrance to St. Phillip's College as a vocational student and then to more academic pursuits at Tillotson College and St. Mary's University. 

He wrapped up his baseball career in the mid and late 50s playing for semi-pro teams in the San Antonio area. 

His son Darryl Grant had an eleven year NFL career.  The defensive tackle, who played college football for Rice University, played from 1981 to 1990 for the Washington Redskins and one season for Tampa Bay. 


20 September, 2007

-     Thank you Phil Risinger !   Among the items sent along by Phil were some Basin League game reports and a package of information on the 1959-1960 Florida Winter League (for top prospects), the equivalent of today's Arizona Fall League.  Among those in the circuit that winter - left to right below - Lawrence P.D. Gillick (that's Pat, of course), Phil, a young catcher, Joe Torre, and shortstop Dick Howser.

Pat Gillick          Phil Risinger          Joe Torre          Dick Howser   

There's also a one-page program from Phil's stint with Sioux City in the Three-I League.  Among his teammates - Jack Bristol (North Battleford 1956), Ernie (later, Gordon) Nevers (Moose Jaw 1957) and Bruce Haroldson (Lloydminster, Minot, Bismarck 1955-1958).  The clippings from the Basin League are helping to fill in the game-by-game reports and photos from the South Dakota loop.  The 1957 season is the one with the most detail so far.

-     A few mysteries encountered along the way.  Anyone with information on Ed Santa Fe Morris?  The righthander pitched for the Estevan Maple Leafs in 1950-1951.  In March 1951 it was reported he was the first Negro to be given a tryout with the Pittsburgh Pirates.   After that report (in The Sporting News) he seems to have disappeared.  I'm also looking for information on Wilmer Fields (the 1951 to 1958 period), Wayne Pappy Carr and Bernard Willis.


15 September, 2007

Phil Risinger-     A pleasure to hear from Phil Risinger (Medicine Hat 1957-1958) who played in Western Canada along with his brother Don (Medicine Hat 1958) and second cousin Tony(Calgary & Regina 1958). 

Phil has been busy preparing material to ship from his home base in Oklahoma.  The material covers not only the Medicine Hat years, but some time in South Dakota's Basin League and some early pro years.

One of Phil's treasured photos (right) is documentation of his home run in his professional Lynn Duncandebut in 1959 with Olean in the New York - Penn League. 

A sparkling defensive shortstop, Phil hit .303 with the Medicine Hat Superiors in 1958 as they captured the Southern Alberta baseball title.  

Among his 1959 teammates - slugger Lynn Duncan (left).  It'll be a big step forward to include some good quality photos of the Risingers, Ron Mertus, Buzz Bartylla, Ron Hubbard, Eloyd Robinson and others. 

-     Bill Schulz (Gilbert Plains, Kamsack, Regina)  host of a reunion of some Fresno State players (many who suited up in Canada), is getting some material together on the gathering of a week ago.   Bill, with his stints both in the Western Canada League and the Manitoba-Saskatchewan League, may help to fill in a bunch of holes in our coverage. 

SF / Buchanan Sea Lions-     Thanks to Lorne Plaxin we are close to getting a good quality version of that Buchanan baseball team of 1949 (a scan at left with a copy of the real photo in the mail). 

It's the one which comprised members of the barnstorming San Francisco Sea Lions team which came to Buchanan for an exhibition game and found most of its players didn't want to leave. 

Also in the works is a photo of the Sea Lions' mascot, little Sammy Workman.  Born without hands or feet, Workman put on exhibitions of batting and throwing during the Sea Lions' games. 

Mark Kram-     Mark Kram?  Colleague Barry Swanton, in his search of the internet for information on former ManDak League players, came across an article by Mark Kram Jr. on his father, the well-known sports journalist, Mark Kram Sr. 

In the piece, there's a photo (left) of a young Mark Kram (left) who played service ball before playing, it seems, for Dickinson Packers in 1956.  Now, the Packers did have a George Otts Kram (photo right).  The photos are likely not more than a couple of years apart.  Mark Sr. did use the names George and Otts so it all seems to fit.  But - while the photos have many similarities, the guy on the right sure seems a lot older than the player on the left.  I asked Mark Jr. if he's certain they are one and the same and he's convinced both photos are of his dad. 

-     Lots of little additions to our Basin League coverage, especially the years 1956-57-58.  Most of the photos are of pretty sad quality, but I figure even if they act as placeholders for the better quality versions, they're worthwhile.  Among the discoveries - Sherwood Brewer and Wilmer Fields playing in the Basin loop in 1958.


September 10, 2007

Barney Brown, Jimmy Valentine-     Barry Swanton and I are working away on what may well become a book on Western Canada baseball.  Through Barry, we've had access to some photos from Lois Bentley on baseball in Brandon in the 50's.  Thank you Lois (a central figure in Robert Huculak's lovely little television documentary on the ManDak League.  Check out the 1952 ManDak snapshots.  Left - likely the coolest duo in Brandon, Barney Brown and Jimmy Valentine

Barry also sent along a feature story on Allan Schell which appeared in The Surrey/North Delta Leader earlier this year.  In the 1950s Schell played with the Regina Red Sox and Qu'Appelle Cardinals and won a spot on the Coalinga college team in California.  At age 69, he's still playing.  Slow-pitch now, but with the same enthusiasm as a teenager.  We've added a photo of his Qu'Appelle (Saskatchewan) Cardinals to the site.   And, there are some of Barry's ManDak photos included in the 1950 snapshot page, including Lillord Cobb and Jimmy Newberry.

-    It's always so comforting to know there are Joann Smith's and Jean Florhaug's out there.  Kind, helpful, taking the time and effort to dig out information on requests out of left field.  Joann answered a plea asking for details about Monte Bond (Lloydminster 1958-1959), particularly if the Monte Bond who died in an automobile accident in 1973 was the same young man who played ball in Canada.  It was.  Some details still to clarify - did Bond go to the University of Arizona or USC?, neither?.  And, is the Monte Bond who played shortstop for Detroit Stars in 1955 the same as the Lloydminster Bond?  It appears Bond did suit up for the Kansas City Monarchs in 1961.  Jean has been assisting in the search for stories on John Donaldson the famous Negro League pitcher (1912 to about 1934) and has provided some key info on microfilm readers.  Joann and Jean, gems.

-   Anyone in the Saskatoon area who has time to search through Star-Phoenix microfilm?  Brandon? 

-   Thanks again to Nat Bates (Medicine Hat 1951, Indian Head 1952) for checking out some details on former Western Canada players.  Nathaniel Bates is quite a story all on his own.  A baseball and basketball star in high school in the Oakland, California, area (Richmond), he and his neighborhood chums (Pumpsie Green, Willie Reed, and Winters Calvin) played ball at El Cerrito High School and West Contra Costa Junior College before heading north to play with the Medicine Hat Mohawks in 1951.  When the Mohawks folded at the end of that season, the 6-foot right-hander and his pals moved to play for Indian Head the following season. 

“We were treated exceptionally well” said Bates, “people were always respectful. It was a wonderful experience. There were people who had never seen an African-American in person.  So we were pioneers to a larger extent as we went from town to town.”

Military service, beginning in 1953 (Korea) and a young family steered Bates away from a baseball career into something more certain.  After a lengthy career as a probation department counselor and administrator, Bates began a political career which has included two terms as mayor and nearly three decades of service on Richmond City Council.  

-     It was a pleasure to dig out some clippings to help out with the presentation for Gene Graves this fall at his induction into the Hall of Fame at Fresno State University.  Earlier this year, Graves was among those honoured at the 50th anniversary of the 1957 Sequoias championship team.

-     Bill Guenthner is always such a great help.  His site on the Minot Mallards is a treasure chest of baseball information on his hometown.  Lately he's provided some key information on Lefty Bryant.  Check out his "news" section for his report (and display of tribute cards) on this year's  Judy Johnson Tribute to Negro League Ballplayers.

-    Good to hear from Dr. Andrew Lillie (Roblin, Estevan, Grandview, Moose Jaw 1952 to 1954). He's digging through the attic for photos, especially of the 1953 Estevan team. 

-    Happy to help out Justin Hathaway of the Florida Times-Union on a piece on John Kennedy who graduated from the ManDak League to become the first Afro-American to play for the Philadelphia Phillies.  Justin's piece, originally scheduled for this month, has been delayed until next summer. 

-     Our thanks to Daniel Papillon, of the Quebec chapter of the Society of American Baseball Research (SABR), for digging out information on some Western Canada players who also suited up in the Provincial League in Quebec.  Of particular note - Isiah Ike Quarterman of the 1950 Indian Head Rockets and the 1953 and 1954 Quebec Braves.

-     Kudos again to Wayne Stivers for his outstanding work on Negro League ball.  He's helped us again in trying to track down information on some former Western Canada players.  Wayne is a regular at the Negro League Baseball Players Association site answering questions at the message board.  One of the current mysteries is whether the Buddy Burbage who played for Grandview in 1953 and Rosetown in 1954 is the same Buddy Burbage whose career in the Negro League stretched back to 1929. 

-    T. Kent Morgan has been kind enough to send along a copy of his little book on The Pas (Manitoba)  TeePees baseball team in the Polar League.  It covers the years from 1956 to 1964.  Courtesy of Kent, we've posted the 1959 TeePees team photo.

Connie JuelkeVern McKee-    A little more to show for our research into the Basin League of South Dakota/Nebraska - 1955 Photo Gallery, 1956 Game Reports, 1956 Photo Gallery, 1956 Snapshots, 1957 Photo Gallery

Basin League clippings, programs, photos would be appreciated.  That's Huron manger Connie Juelke in 1957 and centrefielder Vern McKee at the right.

-     A few more pictures added to the Photo Gallery of the 1948 Manitoba Senior League.  This is the season future hockey great Terry Sawchuk won the batting title.

-    Bit by bit.  A little information on an old rumour (from 1956) concerning ManDak star Sugar Cain

In late 1956, police in Minot were embarrassed when they tried to saddle Cain with a charge of vagrancy (November 24, 1956).  Appearing in court in November, Cain, 39, the ace pitcher for the Mallards, pleaded innocent.  Two officers who made the arrest entered a report saying that had observed Cain on numerous occasions late at night either standing in the window of a house or outside the premises.  City Prosecutor Paul Campbell said Cain had been "acting as a warner and lookout" in connection with illegal activities. 

Police Magistrate Jonathan C. Eaton Jr. dismissed the charge saying the city had failed to prove its case.  In December, 1956, Cain sued the City of Minot and the local police for false arrest.  We haven't  yet uncovered information as to what happened to the suit. 


September 8, 2007

-     It's been a busy summer and I will try and bring things up to date over the next few weeks.  Today is a special one in Fresno as some former FSU players hold a little reunion with Bill Schulz (former catcher at Gilbert Plains, Kamsack and Regina) as an organizer.  More to follow.  (Already from talk about the event we've made some corrections on the site - Schulz, Gerry Sedoo are the correct spellings). 

-     Jim Lester (Granum/Lethbridge 1956-1961) and John Vaselenak (Granum/Lethbridge 1953-1960) made the trek to Montana to visit Lee Murphy (Regina 1956-57, Saskatoon 1959, Lethbridge 1960).  A lot of smoke in the area from forest fires, but impressive nonetheless.  Murphy's landscaping efforts a sight to behold. 

-     In June, Walter McCoy (Carman, ManDak League, 1952-53-54) was honoured at Petco Park, San Diego, as the Padres saluted a group of former Negro Leagues players, including Monte Irvin, Don Newcombe, Luis Tiant and Armando Vazquez

-    Very pleased to hear from Bob Elliott, sports writer of the Toronto Sun, who sends along some pieces on Jimmy Wilkes (Branford, Intercounty League 1953-1963).   Jimmy, 81 and now beset by Alzheimer's disease, came to Canada after an outstanding Negro League career and a stint in the Brooklyn Dodgers organization.

-    Thanks to Stephen Harding for sending along information on the Intercounty League. Arden Eddie, the longtime player, owner & manager of the Intercounty League London Majors  has been inducted into the London Sports Hall of Fame. Arden kept the franchise alive even with competition from three professional teams at Labatt Park.

Robertson - GetsingerGil Robertson and Russ Getsigner, in the photo (left) were saluted at Labatt Park, London, July 1, 2006. Robertson was a catcher on the 1948 London Majors team which captured the North American semi-pro title.  Getsinger pitched in the PONY League with Olean, New York and the London Pirates, an affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1940. Getsinger also pitched for the Stratford Nationals (Intercounty league) in the 40s' and for the London Majors during the 48 season. Both are active members of the London Old Timers Sports Association. (Photo courtesy Friends of Labatt Park)

-    Former players of the 1968 Fairfax High American Legion team got together earlier in the year and the name of Bruce Gardner came up to fond memories.  Bob Zeichik recalls, "he was such a good guy to all of us and we all appreciated his accomplishments so very much."  

-    With a push from the relatives of Howard Warfield (Rosetown Phillies 1954) we are trying to track down any information, especially photos, of the Rosetown team.  We've managed to fill in some info on Howard's playing career, but material on the 1954 team has proven elusive so far.

-     Happy to have helped out the relatives of Percy Howard (Winnipeg 1950-1951, Ligon's 1953) and Charlie McMillar (Indian Head 1952) with information and photos.