Update : 30 July, 2013
Re-done to present a clearer, larger photo is the 1959 photo of the Saskatoon trio -- Ron Boone, Eloyd Robinson (left) and Danny Adams. The individual photos have also been re-done and are posted in the photo gallery.
After posting the photo of the 1959 Saskatoon Gems of the Saskatoon and District League we've been prompted to work on the game reports and statistics of the circuit. Perhaps later in the summer we'll have an opporunity to chase down that information. I believe the league lasted just two seasons, 1959 and 1960 before the formation of the Northern Saskatchewan loop.
29 July, 2013
It's always a treat to dig up a good team photo from which we can extract individual pictures for our photo galleries. We have just that this week as Leo Wurtz (left) was kind enough to go searching through the attic for the picture of the 1959 Saskatoon Gems, which featured such players as Wurtz and long-time prairie standout, pitcher Ross Stone (right). The individual photos are now posted as well on our 1959 Saskatchewan Photo Gallery (which includes the pics of many of the famous Struebys of Marysburg).
Thanks to all the detective work by Rich Necker in locating clippings on Okanagan baseball in the 1950s, we've put together a profile page on Ted Bowsfield the Penticton product who was such a local star beginning at age 15 in senior ball and worked his way up to the major leagues with Boston, Cleveland, Los Angeles and Kansas City. There's still a bit of work to do in tracking down his statistics for the years in Penticton, but what's posted is pretty close. From one of the photos we've extracted individual pictures of Bowsfield and Les Edwards for the 1954 photo gallery. The page features Bowsfield baseball cards and a link to a wonderful story on Bowsfield on Kevin Glew's Cooperstowners in Canada site.
With thanks to Tazena Kennedy, we've updated more Man-Dak League game reports from 1950 and 1951 and added photos of Lyman Bostock and Ron Teasley (left) to the 1950 Photo Gallery. Tazena is the daughter of former Winnipeg Buffalo star John Kennedy who parlayed his Man-Dak and Negro League experience to win a spot with the Philadelphia Phillies.
And, we've managed to add on the latest rosters to the list of players who performed with British Columbia teams in the 1940s and 1950s. There are now more than 2,700 players listed on our BC roster sheet, and that's mainly from the late 1940s to the mid 1950s.
. Always a pleasure to hear from two of the oldest friends of Western Canada Baseball, Jim Lester and Jack Altman, stars of the long-ago Vulcan Elks and Granum White Sox. Jack is making the trek to Vulcan next month to join the celebration of the community's 100th year. A special salute to Vulcan baseball is on the menu.
You have to read ''The Amphibians of Ketchikan'', a story about an unusual baseball diamond up in Alaska. As you might surmise from the title, the playing field was often under water. It's another of the fascinating stories at Diamonds in the Dusk, Brian Morrison's marvelous little site.
Of course, Brian keeps surprising us with photos for our site. Lately he's found top quality photos of Larry Laughlin (above far left, Calgary 1963), Frank Reberger (above left, Saskatoon 1964) and Joe Lutz (right, Williston 1954, Minot 1956) , all hard to find items on the former Western Canada League players who had at least a cup o' coffee in the majors.
From Ontario's Intercounty League, we've uploaded a team photo of the 1959 Hamilton Beavers a team which included hockey star Murray Oliver, Larry Cunningham who first came to Canada with the Harlem Globetrotters barnstorming team, Dan Lewandowski who had a cup of coffee with the St.Louis Cardinals, and Intercounty veteran left-hander Eric Lomax. We'll need some help identifying the players in the photo.
21 July, 2013
Nelson "Chicken" Hawkes (left) and "Stubby" Mack were just two of the 1920 Calgary Bronchos to advance to the major leagues. We're so pleased to have stumbled upon quality photos of the 1920 Bronchos from an image at the Glenbow Museum and Archives in Calgary and another from an unknown source. Both photos, the team picture and a composite are now posted along with individual versions on the 1920 home page and the photo gallery.
There's another team photo posted as well, the 1911 Saskatoon Hoo Hoo nine, the Saskatoon City League champions. I'm assuming the team name comes from the fraternal and service organization the International Concatenated Order of Hoo-Hoo which dates back to 1892. Members of the group are involved in the forest products industry.
Brian Morrison, Diamonds in the Dusk, is such a good friend of Western Canada Baseball sending along yet another "find", this time a good quality photo of Joe Mack (left) who came to play in the ManDak (Manitoba-Dakota) League in the early 1950s at the end of the lengthy career which included a stop in the majors with Boston.
Help! Mike Sherman at the Granum Museum (which includes a marvelous display of the old Granum baseball team) is trying to track down information on a few of the old Granum players. We've managed to provide background information on most of the former players, but four -- Al Malarchuk, Bob Laurie, John Pederson, and Ron Jacques. Jacques suited up in 1953, the others in 1955. If you can help please drop a line.
Love the coincidences. A few weeks back the Toronto Star asked for some help in tracking down photos of Harry Fisher who graduated to the major leagues from his baseball beginnings in Ontario and the Intercounty League. I managed to located a couple of pictures for the piece, a special publication in the Star's "Dispatches" section. The dispatch was published last Friday, a fascinating story, well told by author Lesley Krueger. Turns out Lesley is a writer-in-residence at the Canadian Film Centre in Toronto. The CEO there is Slawko Klymkiw my former executive producer at CBC, Toronto,
There's a major addition to the 1954 coverage of the Okanagan Mainline Baseball League in British Columbia. Rich Necker has sent along dozens of clippings to flesh out the game reports, provide both batting and pitching statistics and a few photos for the snapshot page.
Big thanks to Saskatchewan Hall of Famer Len Breckner for passing along the word of our quest for a good photo of Johnny Folk one of the great hurlers of the 1930s, 40s and 50s on the prairies. Johnny's son Lloyd has been in touch and we hope soon to post a quality image of Johnny.
I happened upon a photo of Larry Cunningham (right) who came to Canada with the barnstorming Harlem Globetrotters baseball team in the early 1950s, won a pro contract playing in Hamilton, Ontario and stuck around the Southern Ontario city to play for Hamilton in the Intercounty League. We're now trying to track down the former centre field star and if you know what's happened to Larry, please let us know.
Leo Wurtz, who played in the 1950s and 1960s is proving to be of valuable assistance in a number of areas, besides filling in the details of his own career and digging out some team photos (such as the Saskatoon Gems of 1959). Leo played with the Marysburg team, famous for it's connection with the Strueby family, Saskatoon and also had a connection to our BC coverage having played in Revelstoke in 1962.
14 July, 2013
Stage one of our immense undertaking -- updating the roster sheets (1907 to 1979) -- is at the half-way mark. We've now added to a master player list all players from whatever rosters we managed to dig up. That will result soon in updating the decade-by-decade files here and push us onto stage two, double-checking the master roster list back with each yearly roster page to ensure they match. I suspect the whole process will take until the fall.
Finally, we've posted the additional game reports and rosters for BC baseball, including the 1949 Okanagan Valley International League, the 1954 BC Interior League and 1946 baseball in the Arrow Lakes area.
Among the Saskatchewan photos added are those of Bentley MacEwen (left), Rod Campbell and Irl Flanagan, a trio of outstanding players of the 1950s and 1960s. MacEwen was a member of the famous Bentley family of Delisle.
A bunch of new team photos are now posted, including the 1951 Nakusp, BC nine, Wilcox, Saskatchewan, team 1920-1930, the famous Gunther Family team of 1937, the 1930 Lanigan Pirates. and the 1931 Waterloo, Ontario squad of the Intercounty League. On the 1928 home page, there's an image of four members of the renown Sceptre squad of 1928.
Individual photos added include Andy Zwack and Stan Kowalski a pair of Prince Albert stars, Ivan Prediger, Jean Ashley, (with Denny Evenson & Doug Dodd on the same page), Len VanDeHay and Larry Cunningham. There are some photos of players from they 1954 Okanagan Mainline League, and the 1953 Mainline loop.
Again, much thanks to Brian Morrison of Diamonds in the Dusk for keeping us in mind during his own research. He's come up with a good quality photo of Tom Burgess, in his St. Louis Cardinal uniform.
Burgess went from London, Ontario, in the Intercounty League in Southern Ontario in 1945 to a lengthy pro career with included stops in the major leagues with St. Louis and the Angels and featured eight years of solid play in Triple-A.
In 1953, with Rochester of the International League, he hit .346 with 22 home runs and 93 runs batted in. In 1959, then 31, the outfielder hit .293 with 28 home runs and 96 RBI. Burgess continued in baseball managing in the St.Louis, Atlanta, Texas and Detroit farm systems from 1969 through to 1987.
8 July, 2013
He's prolific! I'm just getting around to alerting all to a lovely story on the Broadview, Saskatchewan, Buffaloes of the 1930s when author Daniel Wyatt charges ahead with three further posts, including one on 42, the movie on Jackie Robinson, before I've gotten around to letting you know about Broadview! Daniel has kicked off his new blog, High on History, in grand style. There's also a fascinating piece on Regina's early role as an automobile manufacturing centre. A great addition to the online community!
I was in for a major surprise in checking out the Dominion Day parade here in downtown Nakusp (pop. 1,500). Gary McKechney, former star pitcher and first baseman for Estevan in the 1940s-50s and 60s happened to be in Nakusp visiting family and sauntered over to introduce himself. We had an all-too-short time to chat, but marvelous nonetheless.
Big thanks to Bud Guenther of the famous Gunther/Guenther family of Lanigan, Saskatchewan (at one point in the 1930s they had their own family team with seven of the boys and three girls) for sending along material on the family (as I was trying to figure out the different between A. Gunther, A. Gunther or A. Gunther as they were so often identified- oh yes, that's Art, Albert and August. Of course, hardly anyone knew him as August, just Lefty.). One day soon we hope to be able to sort out the Gunthers and the Struebys!
One more mystery resolved. In the 1950s and 60s, stories about baseball in Asquith noted the feats of Jack and Jock Cleghorn. I couldn't figure out if there were two Cleghorns or if the papers simply continued to make typos. Turns out it's Jack with a nickname Jock. Same player. The search provided a good opportunity to chat with Jack/Jock about the good days of baseball on the prairies.
I've managed to clear phase one of the backlog of material sent along by the indefatigable Rich Necker of Regina. We had decided to try and have reports on every year of the Saskatoon Exhibition Tournament, 1922 to 1969. Well, it's finally in the books. The 1950s and 1960s have been completed to join the earlier reports on each game along with team rosters on the roster pages. (Best to go to the Site Map for links to all those individual pages.) In the process, we discovered that Saskatoon actually held its first tournament in 1909, but it didn't become the annual event until the 1920s. Check out the 1909 reports, if only to sample the writing style of the day. A big round of applause for Mr. Necker for his usual outstanding work !
If you want to take a look at the whole history of the Saskatoon Exhibition Tournament it's there on one page, year by year.
The tourney featured some outstanding pitching. There were three no-hitters, Howard Webb for Neilburg in 1928, Anton for Lucky Lake in 1931 and Vince Rucobo (left) for Unity in 1968. Rucobo also tied the strikeout mark of 20 first accomplished by Rusty Devine for the Unity Cardinals in 1962. A year later Dave Pagan twirling for Eston whiffed 22, but in a 14-inning contest. Al Flohr (right), pitching mainly for Neilburg, set quite a long-term tournament mark in the 1930s winning 18 against just one loss during a seven year stretch.
Of course, the name synonymous with the tournament is Pete Prediger who suited up, for the most part with his hometown Neilburg squad, for 33 straight summers. He missed the final exhibition tournament in 1969 when his gear didn't arrive in time and Neilburg was eliminated in the first round.
Neilburg's Pete Prediger (left) sat this one out. It was to have been his 34th consecutive year playing in the tournament, but his gear didn't arrive in time for the game and the Monarchs were eliminated in the first round.
The 1959 coverage has been expanded to include reports on the Saskatchewan Amateur playoffs. A few will remember that Jackie McLeod pitched his Swift Current Indians to the provincial title.
Along the way we've added a few photos too. There's the team photos of the 1919 Sceptre team and the 1909 Bruno nine (I'm not yet certain what they were champions of). On the 1920 snapshot page we've posted a photo of star catcher Pat McNeally, then with Sceptre. With more and more information coming in on new leagues and unaffiliated teams we've found it necessary to add a new category - Saskatchewan general photos - where we'll post photos of players not in specific leagues already categorized on the site. Thus, this 1959 page features players (including a bunch of the Strueby family) who were on teams outside of the Western Canada, Southern or Northern Saskatchewan leagues and the 1920 page has an individual picture of Pat McNeally. The new 1960 and 1961 pages also begin with just a single entry.
14 June, 2013
Talk about a baseball family dynasty - 2013 marks the 95th consecutive year that tiny Marysburg, Saskatchewan has hosted a team and it's believed the team has featured at least one member of the Strueby family in each of those seasons.
From 1918 when Fred Strueby took the mound for Dead Moose Lake (the former name of the community of an estimated 25 permanent residents, north of Humboldt) to 2013 when six of the grandsons of the late Isidore Strueby (left) -- Curtis, Geoff, Luke, Mathew, Paul and Shaun -- carry on the family tradition. Wayne Strueby (father of Curtis, Paul & Luke & son of Isidore) is the current coach of the team.
Isidore and Sylvester, two of the six sons of Frank Strueby (whose father Francis Xavier Strueby came from Wisconsin to settle the area in the early 1900s) have been inducted into the Saskatchewan Baseball Hall of Fame. The family itself was honoured with induction in 2000.
Two early products of contact with the Strueby family are a team photo of the 1959 Marysburg Royals, and individual pictures in the 1959 Saskatchewan Photo Gallery courtesy of Larry Strueby, a third generation Marysburg Strueby, and Curtis Strueby, a fourth generation Royals' player.
Left - a trophy from the early years. Sylvester Strueby (left) and Joe Grace (who might have been a cousin to the Struebys).
Marysburg, which basically consists of a beautiful church and a ball diamond, has been a powerhouse in local baseball for decades. From 1984 to 2003, Marysburg captured the North Central League title 17 of 20 years. They joined the Saskatoon Senior League in 2004 and won the pennant in 2009 and 2012.
Big thanks again to Brian Morrison for tracking down good quality photos of Wilfred "Lefty" Lefebvre (right) and Joe Erautt for our major leaguers section. Brian's Diamonds in the Dusk is a delight. Check it out. Today lead story is on a Texas lad who, despite a rumour of shooting a man in a gun fight and being charged with robbery gets a chance to pitch in the major leagues. It's all about being in the right place at the right time.
Rich Necker has been busy as a bee compiling material on, among other things, the Saskatoon Exhibition Tournament and teams and rosters from the 1920s through the 1960s. We've now put together the Exhibition Tournament rosters for each year of the tourney, 1922 to 1969 (with the exception of 1924 when no event was held).
There's still work to do in providing game reports on the Exhibition Tournament for some years of the 1920s, 1950s and 1960s. As we worked through the Exhibition coverage we added a few photos from the event. There's Len Pyne scoring in the 1954 event, the Jimmy Shields steal of home in 1951, and the Bentleys receiving the hardware in the 1958 tourney.
New additions include better quality versions of a couple of teams photos, the 1957 Saskatoon Optimist Juniors, and the 1967 Prairie senior champion Govan Angels now presented in colour ! We've added a couple of individual photos from 1922, not of the greatest quality but at least something from the era, and there's some pitching stats from the Regina Northside League of 1921.
In an attempt to get a correct spelling of the name of an old-time player, we learned Harold "Greasy" Horeak lived to 103 ! Horeak passed away in April, 2012 at his home in Edmonton. Beside his skill on the diamond, "Greasy" was an outstanding curler who won the Saskatchewan championship in 1949 and represented the province at the Brier championships. .
28 May, 2013
Much thanks to Larry Tollefson (to be inducted into the Saskatchewan Baseball Hall of Fame this summer) for the great action photo from his playing days. It's from a game in 1970 when Larry smacked a three-run homer for the Moose Jaw Regals in a 5-3 win over Melville.
And, in the "small world" department, Larry was a former teammate of my next door neighbour here in the wilds of British Columbia.
We continue to pull material from the clippings sent by Tazena Kennedy of the Man-Dak league of 1950-51 when her dad was a star with the Winnipeg Buffaloes. We added a few photos to the 1951 snapshot page.
Whew. The Player Lists, from the 1907 beginning of the Western Canada Baseball League to the end of 1979 prairie ball, have been updated the reflect all the additions and changes over the last year.
Thanks to Barry Forster for passing along a link to a great photo of the 1936 Kansas City Monarchs who barnstormed in Western Canada and included Willard Brown, Bullet Joe Rogan and Newt Allen. Barry's dad played against the Monarchs during their stopover in Regina and drew accolades from the visitors for his brilliant work at second base for the Regina Nationals.
Not sure how he does it, but Brian Morrison (he of Diamonds in the Dusk, a site of marvelous little stories from the world of baseball) manages to send along these pristine digital versions of The Sporting News. It such a great research tool for us!
And, good news from the Saskatchewan Baseball Hall of Fame, our submission of the outstanding Regina Nationals teams of the 1930s has been successful and the team will be inducted into the HOF at the annual ceremony at Battleford in 2014.
The 1972 Manitoba Senior League rosters have been added to the appropriate roster page. The names have been on the stats page all along, we just overlooked transferring the names to the roster section.
23 May, 2013
With much thanks to Tazena Kennedy we've added a page of snapshots to the 1950 ManDak League section.
Tazena is the daughter of former Winnipeg Buffalo John Kennedy (right) who advanced to the majors as the first black player to integrate the Philadelphia Phillies, ten years after Jackie Robinson had suited up for the Brooklyn Dodgers.
Tazena's material also included a photo of former Negro League player Charlie Pride (left) who played a bit in the minor leagues before hurting his arm and going on to major success in the in the music world.
There's also a newspaper photo of her dad (right) when he played with the famous Kansas City Monarchs in 1956.
Tazena also sent along several dozens scans of newspaper stories of ManDak games of 1950 which we are still happily working through.
The player list for British Columbia ball has been updated once again to reflect hundreds of new additions, especially those on teams in the BC interior.
Added to the 1919 roster page are rosters for various teams in Saskatoon, Regina, Prince Albert, Swift Current, Moose Jaw and several smaller centres.
And, we've added another team photo from the early 1900s, the 1909 Wilcox baseball team.
18 May, 2013
For the latest batch of additions we've gone back to the 1930s to provide game reports and rosters for Saskatchewan teams, for the most part, of that era. Among the major accomplishments is a record of all games of the famous Saskatoon Exhibition Tournament through the 30s (with mention of such illustrious athletes as the Bentleys of Delisle, the Gunthers of Lanigan and hired gun hurler Al Flohr, who ran up a 19-2 record in the Exhibition Tournament during the 30s).
Through the process we've added a few photos of those standouts from more than 70 years ago. Left to right - Walter Gunther of the Gunther family team and Lanigan, Cooney Wood star Saskatoon hurler, Prince Albert catcher Andy Zwack, Broderick catcher Telmar Derdall, and August (Lefty) Gunther pitcher and outfielder for Lanigan. The Gunther (sometimes spelled Guenther) brothers added confusion to the research as boxscores often were not too clear in identifying the specific Gunther. It turns out there was Albert, August and Art among the brothers, so trying to figure out which player was A. Gunther remains a problem. However, Jane Shury of the Saskatchewan Baseball Hall of Fame has some information on the family which should help to make clear who's who!
By going through the material from the 1930s we've made some additions and corrections to the Northeastern Saskatchewan Baseball League, noting additional league championships for Canora and Hyas, and a few details of the title games in the 30s. And, the pitcher we had listed as Skyworth looks to be Skywork.
I'm still on cloud nine after hearing from Tazena Kennedy, daughter of John Kennedy, the former Man-Dak League star who, in 1957, became the first black player to suit up with the Philadelphia Phillies.
Tazena has sent along newspaper clippings and some photos of the 1950 and 1951 seasons in which Kennedy starred with the Winnipeg Buffaloes. The smooth infielder was one of the top hitters in 1951 when he hit .324 playing with future Hall of Famers Willie Wells and Leon Day.
Kennedy was signed by the Phillies in 1957 after putting up some big numbers with the Kansas City Monarchs in Negro League ball. He got into just five games in the majors as the Phillies likely discovered Kennedy was not the 23-year-old phenom from the Negro Leagues but a 30-year-old veteran (the Phils probably didn't realize Kennedy had been in the New York Giants' farm system a few years earlier). He finished the season in the Phillies minor league system hitting .270 with 19 homers and 81 runs batted in.
The 5'10", 175 pound shortstop played a few more seasons in the minor leagues before calling it quits in the early 1960s. He was one of three players from Western Canadian teams to be the first to integrate major league squads. Tom Alston, who played with the Indian Head Rockets, was the first African-American player on the St. Louis Cardinals, and Elijah "Pumpsie" Green of Indian Head and Medicine Hat became the first black player on the Boston Red Sox, the last of the major league teams to integrate.
Among the photos Tazena has sent along is a good copy of the team photo of the 1950 Winnipeg Buffaloes, something we've sought for a long time. Much more to come from the Kennedy material as I work through it. Thank you Tazena!
The 1935 Tournament Page now has details of the Canadian exhibition games featuring the Dai-Nippon Tokyo Giants who toured the US and Canada. It was team of high school and university players and featured two sensational teenage hurlers -- 19-year-old Victor Starffin (left) and 18-year-old Eiji Sawamura (right),, would go on to Hall of Fame careers in Japan.
In the fall of 1934, Sawamura faced a team of touring major league all-stars in Japan and in a relief role, he fanned nine including consecutive strikeouts of Charlie Gehringer, Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig and Jimmie Foxx. Starffin finished his career with 303 wins. Both died young. Starffin was killed in an traffic accident in 1957 at age 40. Sawamura, who enlisted in the Japanese Imperial Army, was killed in battle in 1944. He was just 27.
The 1935 home page has a snippet on the former major leaguer Ike Davis who came north to be playing manager in Wetaskiwin, Ponoka and Medicine Hat in the mid 1930s.
03 May, 2013
The British Columbia coverage has been expanded again with new material from the late 1940s and early 1950s. Thanks to Rich Necker who's been keeping us marching along with material from BC baseball we are happy to post game reports from the Okanagan-Valley International League of 1949, along with that summer's game reports from the BC Interior League, the Crow's Nest Pass League, West Kootenay League and baseball in the Slocan Valley.
You might notice as well that we've divided the British Columbia game reports with stuff from Vancouver and area leagues on a separate page from the game reports from the rest of BC (Mainline League, BC Interior League, West Kootenay, Crow's Nest Pass etc.).
Other major additions include game reports from the 1953 West Kootenay area and Crow's Nest Pass League and the 1953 and 1954 Okanagan Mainline Leagues. With these additions and some other updates, the roster pages for 1949, 1952-53-54 also reflect many new entries.
Although photos are proving to be incredibly difficult to find, we've located a couple from the 1949 season. That's pitcher Wally Lesmeister (left) and Dick Murray, playing-manager, of the Kelowna Elks Red Sox (that's the Elks club of Kelowna sponsoring a team they called the Red Sox). And on the 1954 BC page we have a photo of Johnny Brkich of Kamloops.
One of the results of these latest updates is a more complete record of phenom Ted Bowsfield, the Penticton lefty who used the Okanagan experience as a springboard to a major league career. Bowsfield had a record of 10-2 in 1951, 12-5 in 1952, then 5-1 in his injury-shortened 1953 summer and 5-1, 1.83 in 1954 when he left Penticton to begin his pro career.
Along with the above, one other update to note - the 1930 Tournament page and roster page. We now have the game reports from the 1930 Saskatoon Exhibition Tournament and rosters for the teams in the Saskatoon City League and for various other teams on the prairies (including Sceptre, Medicine Hat and Swift Current).
02 May, 2013
A big night coming up at Battleford, Saskatchewan, Saturday, August 17th as the new crop of Hall of Famers is inducted into the Saskatchewan Baseball Hall of Fame.
Among the individuals to be honoured this summer are (from left to right) Larry Tollefson, long time catching star for Moose Jaw in the 1960s, Ira McKnight who came from the Negro Leagues and the famous Kansas City Monarchs to play in Saskatoon, Melville and North Battleford in the 1960s, Wayne Pusch lefty hurler for Swift Current in the 1970s, and Ron McKechney a pitcher/infielder with Estevan and Swift Current in the 1950s and 1960s. Also on the 2013 list are Brian Lampitt, North Battleford star of the 1960s and 1970s, Garnet Hannon, a stalwart with Kindersley Klippers from the late 1950s to the early 1970s, Neil Hogg, Swift Current in the 1970s, Larry English, Hazlet, Saskatchewan, Elwood Ferguson, Lloydminster, Jim Flynn, Carlyle, Rodney Rhinehart, Maidstone, Bill Sittler, Wilkie, and Rupert Talbot, Canwood. In the team category, the Moose Jaw Regals and Jansen Red Sox will be saluted along with the Kohlman family of Macklin and the community of Hazlet.
The town of Vulcan, Alberta has plans for a huge celebration the weekend of August 2-3-4 to mark the community's 100th birthday. Among other things, the community is searching for former players of the Vulcan Elks of the mid 1950s. Already they've contacted Jack Altman (left) to join the activities. Altman went 12-6, 1.27 for the Elks in 1954 and 15-3 when he pitched for Vulcan and Granum in 1955. Here are the Vulcan rosters I have for the glory years of Vulcan ball in the 1950s. If you know the whereabouts of any of these guys please pass along the news (and yes, in 1956 that is Pat Gillick the former GM of the Blue Jays).
1953 : Clarkson Clayton OF, Dann Ben, Howlett, Jankola Joe P, McAtee Ian P, McPherson Ron, Pruden Jim, Winn Skip C
1954 : Altman Jack LHP, Banks Warren, Clarkson Clayton OF, Cleaver Ken, Dann Ben, Franks Wally, Gatenby Ken, Jantzie Don 1B, Jantzie Mike 2B, Kliewer, Lattimore Roy SS, Mitchell Dave, Pasolli Sev (also Champion), Pruden Jim, Scott Pete, Stephensen Bob, Weaver, Winn Skip C, Ybanez Joe P
1955 : Altman Jack LHP (also Granum), Bugg Dick C, Burcher Jerry RHP, Burley Fred, Dann Ben, Franks Wally, Gatenby Ken, Gordichuk Orie, Jantzie Don 1B, Jantzie Mike 2B, Jesse Ken, Loucks Brian, Loucks Ken MGR, Mitchell Dave, Norman Marty SS, Pruden Jim, Scott Pete, Seastrom Greg OF
1956 : Birkle Don, Burcher Jerry RHP, Burley Fred, Dann Ben, Davidson Bill, Gillick Patrick LHP, Jantzie Don 1B, Norman Marty SS, Scornaienchi Augie C, Seastrom Greg OF
1957 : Alvarez Art, Burley Fred, Dailey Chuck, Dann Ben, Gowler, Horton Itch, Houck Jim LHP, Jantzie Don 1B, Laughlin Ron OF, Marquardt Doug, Norman Marty SS, Pruden Jim, Scornaienchi Augie C, Sorenson Dale, Vickers Doug
The Vulcan organizing committee might also consider Jim Lester who was a star third sacker for the Granum White Sox beginning with the 1956 season. However, in his first taste of prairie ball came with Vulcan.
Sunday, June 3rd, 1956. Jim Lester, Greg Seastrom, Augie Scornaienchi and Billy Joe Davidson are still on the road in Billy Joe's two-door sedan. It's the opening day of the Foothills-Wheatbelt season.
Vulcan (where Seastrom, Scornaienchi and Davidson are to play) and Granum (Lester's club) both are at home for opening day double-headers. In an effort to go non-stop from Visalia, California to Southern Alberta, the players rotate driving with the previous driver stretched out in the back with the other three in the front. They're already behind schedule when two breakdowns in Montana and a dispute at the border about the import of Louisville Sluggers ensures they won't see the first pitch of the season.
Tired, hungry and a bit disoriented, the four finally arrive in Vulcan. Obviously, the game is underway. Dozens of cars circled the field.
"When they saw us there was hooting and hollering and honking and cheering. We thought we must be pretty important. It was like we were the President or something", said Lester.
What they didn't know immediately was that Vulcan had already dropped the first game of the twin-bill 19-2 and was getting battered in the second contest and the fans wanted some new players, any players.
Lester recalled, "Greg, Augie and Billy Joe went to suit up and when I was asked to play I told them I had signed to play with Granum and I didn't want to get into trouble. But, the man said he was the league commissioner and if he said it was okay, it was okay. So I ended up playing my first game in the league with Vulcan." The new blood helped to make the score in the second game more respectable, but Vulcan still lost, 14-7.
19 April, 2013
Rich Necker has been keeping me hopping with more and more clippings from baseball action in BC in the late 1940s and early 1950s. In the process of compiling game reports for 1952 I noted the ever growing length of the page and decided to split the BC game reports into two separate pages - one for the Vancouver area leagues and the other for the rest of BC.
Interestingly, it fits with the current perception of the government of the province. Here we refer to the provincial government as GOVV - Government of Vancouver and Victoria as there is precious little evidence the government has any idea what's out there except for the the two major cities.
Thus, for 1952 there are now BC game reports for the Vancouver and area leagues and another page for leagues such as the BC Interior League, Okanagan Mainline League, West Kootenays and the Crow's Nest Pass League (even though three of the teams were from Alberta).
In the process of thinking about how to divvy up the BC stuff I was forced to try and come up with a better scheme to present exhibition games, especially those with league members in the various loops. In particular, I was working on the 1949 Western Manitoba teams (Dauphin, Neepawa, Grandview, Gilbert Plains) which did not compete in a league that season but played exhibition and tournament games, mainly against each other. Rather than placing all their game reports on the Exhibition/Tournament page, I've decided that, in this case, all the exhibition games that just involved those four teams will just stay on the regular page with exhibition games involving outside teams (Ligon's All-Stars, Brandon, Muskokee, etc.) will go to the exhibition page. All tournaments will continue to go to the Exhibition/Tournament page. I'll see how this works with other sections as I go along.
In updating the 1949 tournament page there are a couple of specific notes of interest. We did receive material from the Lloydminster Regional Archives on the big (advertised as the richest tournament in Canada, with a $2,000 top prize) Lloydminster Tournament but it has failed to solve the mystery of Pete Prediger.
The veteran Neilburg catcher turned up playing for Kamloops. In fact, he even played in a game against his beloved Neilburg nine. Why he forsook (is that a real word?) his home club remains a question mark.
Anyway, the reports in the Lloydminster paper were very difficult to read (the microfilm seemed to be out of focus) but we've made out best stab at sorting out the information.
Among the additions on the 1949 Tournament section is a report and a couple of photos (on the Foam Lake tournaments. Their first tourney (in July) was so successful that decided to throw another. The news reports say the final of the first tourney drew an estimated 8,000 people (which would have been about 8 times the population of the community).
We've added a few more of those little maps to show the locations of teams in the various leagues. Hope they're helpful.
It's been a long, long process, but the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame & Musuem finally has its Sports History section on-line, including my Baseball/Softball section. There's still a little work to do on links and such, but it's a major step forward. Let me know what I've missed ! (Remember this is specific to Alberta.)
16 April, 2013
While they didn't have a league, those teams in western Manitoba had a full slate of exhibition and tournament games in the summer of 1949. Dauphin, Neepawa and Gilbert Plains seemed to be the main centres often tangling with their big city cousins (Brandon for example, of the Manioba Senior League). Those game reports and rosters now posted.
We've discovered one more major leaguer who suited up on the prairies. Ike Davis, the playing manager of Wetaskiwin of the Northern Alberta League in 1935 and Medicine Hat of the Southern Alberta League in 1936, had spent time in the majors with the Washington Senators and Chicago White Sox.
The little shortstop had a pretty good year in 1925 when he hit .240 with 31 doubles and 9 triples and knocked in 61 runs.
12 April, 2013
Before embarking on the next chapter of progress, I've updated the Player Lists to include the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s material we've added recently. While all the names will continue to appear on the yearly roster pages, not all will appear on the lists until will can dig up more information such as first names and/or position(s) played.
Going through the recent clippings we've managed to sort out more names, for example Don Lawson & Don Lawston. Lawson was an infielder/pitcher for Grandview in the Northern League in 1950 while Lawston was an infielder/pitcher for Neepawa. Lawson had playerd earlier in Winnipeg for the Reos, Lawston was an import lefty hurler from Grand Forks, ND.
With the clippings from the 1940s in Saskatchewan, especially the stories and boxscores from the Saskatoon Exhibition Tournaments of the 1940s we've managed to consolidate dozens and dozens of entries on the Player Lists.
We've began to add little maps (showing the location of teams for specific leagues) to make it easier to picture the areas in which the leagues operated.
This, for example, is the West Kootenay baseball area where one league operated with Nakusp, New Denver, Silverton, Slocan City and Winlaw and another with Trail, Rossland and Fruitvale. Kalso and Riondel were there for exhibition games.
Travel distance from Nakusp to Trail is about 170 kilometres (106 miles).
Ah such a shame we don't have photo quality for this, but, as we say, at very least this is a place holder for when we track down a good copy of the team phhto. It's the 1953 Okanagan champion Penticton Athletics (yep, Ted Bowsfield, Les Edwards and crew). Wonder if the bat boys might be still around?
Rich Necker has been a busy bee sending in clippings from the Okanagan and West Kootenay leagues of the early 1950s which I will tackle soon. Will have to make a trip down the valley to see if any of the local historical societies might have some photos of their old teams.
11 April, 2013
Today's update is the 1950 Northern League in Western Manitoba (Dauphin, Neepawa, Gilbert Plains, Grandview, Robin) with a fair number of exhibition games involving Kamsack, Saskatchewan. There's league game reports and the exhibition & tournament reports. We've a few little problems to iron out (a few of the dates are obviously wrong) but it's a big step forward to have progressed this far.
Among the starry imports this season was North Carolinian Fate Simms (right) who first came to Canada in 1949 with the St. Louis Black Cardinals barnstorming team. Simms played all over the field for the Dauphin Red Birds, including pitching, and led the team in hitting for the season. I'm now tackling the 1949 season for these Northern League teams. Below is a map showing the communities of the league. Today it takes about two and a half hours to drive from Neepawa to Roblin. It's about 15 minutes from Gilbert Plains to Grandview.
Thanks to the eye-eagle of Rich Necker, we have a few additional photos. Rich noticed a few when charging through microfilm of various papers to secure new material for us. That's Pete Therrien (left) from the early 1930s in Saskatchewan, one of the province's great all-around athletes.
(June 18, 1931) Pete Therrien fired his third consecutive shutout, covering 27 innings, in leading St. Joe's to a 10-0 win over the Quakers in Saskatoon City League action. In his 31 innings this season, Therrien has allowed just two runs. He walked just one and had nine strikeouts. (The streak went to 36 innings before Therrien gave up a run.)
A prominent sports star in high school in Regina, Therrien was an outstanding college athlete at the University of Saskatchewan and University of Manitoba.. After gaining his Bachelor of Science degree at the U of S in Saskatoon, he went on to gain a medical degree at Manitoba. In the fall of 1932, Therrien was the star at a University of Manitoba field day capturing six firsts and two thirds in individual events and was a member of the winning relay team in a program of thirteen events. He won the 100, 220 and 440 races, the shot put, discus and broad jump. During the Second World War, he served as a surgeon in England, France and Belgium. Back in North America in 1946, Dr. Emil "Pete" Therrien furthered his studies in obstetrics and gynaecology in Montreal and Chicago. He moved to British Columbia to open a practice in 1947 and was Chief of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at both North Vancouver General and Lions Gate Hospitals from 1947 to 1963.
A few other photos have popped up and been added to the site. That's Joe Wiley (left) one of the many players from the Negro Leagues who came north in the late 1940s and early 1950s to suit up for teams in Canada as the Negro loops began to fall apart after Jackie Robinson integrated professional baseball and opened up new opportunities for black players. Wiley came to the new Man-Dak (Manitoba-Dakota) League which featured one entry, the league champion Winnipeg Buffaloes, who had an all-black lineup.
Right is catcher Larry Sillers from Saskatoon's Northern Distributors' club of the early 1930s when the baseball clubs of the west were for the most part lily white (with Calgary's Russ Gideon a prominent exception). The papers of the day published so few local baseball photos it's such a treat when we come across some which are reasonably presentable. Most of the papers turfed most their archival photos when they began to microfilm their old papers (thinking the quality would be preserved forever in the new medium). What they didn't check, obviously, was how photos would turn out -- mainly awful -- in the microfilm versions.
Of course it would happen this way. When searching for information on tournament ball in 1949 and 1950, the one major tournament for which there was limited and conflicting information was ... the Lloydminster Tournament, from my hometown! Anyway, material on the way from the very cooperative Lloydminster Regional Archives which we hope will clear up some of the confusion (among other things, we can't figure out why Pete Prediger the Neilburg catcher was named as belting a game-winning double for Kamloops in the event).
08 April, 2013
Just months ago our coverage of baseball on the "left coast" was pretty minimal compared with our regular prairie coverage. Hey, but look at us now! We've charged ahead over these last few months and can now display information on semi-pro and amateur ball in the Vancouver area, Okanagan, Interior, Northern Interior, and both the West and East Kootenay regions, especially the Trail area. Thank goodness Rich Necker spent some time in Trail earlier in his career and has been able to piece together the story of the Smoke Eaters in the late 1940s and early 1950s. Among other things, the data on the Okanagan loops provides some detail on the beginning of Ted Bowsfield's splendid career which took him from the mounds of the BC Interior to the major leagues.
Here are the leagues and the years covered thus far, along with the teams in those leagues (and yes, the Okanagan Mainline loop once had three "Elks" teams in the same season).
Okanagan Mainline League : 1951 - 1952 - 1953
(Kamloops Elks/Okonots, Kelowna Elks Red Sox/Orioles, Oliver Elks, Penticton Athletics, Summerland Macs, Vernon Canadians)
Okanagan Valley-International League : 1949 - 1950 - 1951
(Brewster WA, Bridgeport WA, Coulee Dam WA, Kamloops Legion, Kelowna Red Sox, Mansfield WA, Oliver, Omak WA, Oroville WA, Penticton, Princeton, Summerland, Tonasket WA)
BC Interior League : 1949 - 1950 - 1951 - 1952 - 1953
(Kamloops Elks/CYO/Okonots, Kelowna, North Kamloops, Peachland, Princeton, Revelstoke, Rutland, Salmon Arm, Vernon, Winfield)
Northern/Central Interior League : 1949 - 1950
(Giscome Dodgers, Prince George Pollards, Prince George Timbars, Quesnel Lumbermen, Vanderhoof Cubs, West Lake Loggers, Willow River Red Sox)
West/East Kootenay Baseball : 1950 - 1951 - 1952 - 1953
(Creston, Fruitvale, Kaslo, Nakusp, Nelson, New Denver, Riondel, Rossland, Silverton, Slocan City, Trail, Winlaw)
Crow's Nest Pass League : 1949 - 1950
(Blairmore Columbus Club, Coleman Cubs, Fernie, Hillcrest Miners, Kimberley Elks, Natal-Michel Red Sox, Pincher Creek Dominoes)
Vancouver Industrial League : 1950 - 1951 - 1952 - 1953 - 1954 - 1955 - 1956 - 1957 - 1958 - 1959
(Boilermakers, Clifford's Grill, CYO, Firefighters, Longshoremen, Lynn Athletic, Nisei, North Van Cubs, Machinists, Pacific Tribune Clippers, West Van, Western Bridge)
Vancouver Kingsway League : 1950 - 1951 - 1952
(BCER, Collingwood, Langley, Grandview Chiefs, Langley Prairie, Leckies, Lucky Royals, New Westminster, North Stars, South Burnaby, Steveston Hotel, Westerns)
Vancouver Lower Mainland League : 1952 - 1953
(Hammond, Haney, Langley, South Burnaby, Vancouver Merchants, Whalley)
Vancouver & District Senior League : 1953 - 1954 - 1955
(Collingwood, Marpole, New Westminster, North Vancouver, West Vancouver, Whalley, White Spots)
Vancouver North Shore League : 1951
(CYO, Lynn Athletics, North Vancouver Cubs, Vancouver Leckies, West Vancouver)
Northwest Semi-Pro League : 1952 - 1953 - 1954 - 1955 - 1956 - 1957
(Bellingham Bells, Blaine Boosters, Blaine Ramblers, Cheney, Deming, Everett, Harwoods, Oak Harbor, Seattle, Sedro Wooley, South Burnaby, Tacoma, Victoria, Westminster, Whalley, White Spots, Vancouver Young Liberals)
Dewdney League : 1953 - 1954 - 1958 - 1959
(Coquitlam, Dufferins, Langley, Maillardville, Maple Ridge, Mission, Port Moody, South Burnaby)
And, if you hadn't checked it out before, there's a BC photo gallery of 1931 featuring several of the Vancouver Asahis.
Included in those Tournament/Exhibition pages of the 1940s cited yesterday are those barnstorming teams which became such a big part of summers on the prairies. Among the teams which toured the prairies during the latter part of the 1940s were Ligon's Colored All-Stars (Sterling Fuller and Marvin Ligon of the All-Stars at right), Muskokee Cardinals, California Mohawks, San Francisco Sea Lions, Brooklyn Cuban Giants, and St. Louis Black Cardinals.
With Jackie Robinson integrating pro ball in 1946 the Negro Leagues began to crumble and positions for black players become even more scarce, thus the greatly increased number of black players on the prairies, both on those travelling squads and as members of the local teams. The California Mohawks, a team of college players, was one of few non-black clubs to barnstorm the area during this era. Ironically, the one tournament for which there is not much detail is the one from my hometown! Lloydminster's big tourney of 1949 was won by Delisle. If you've wondered about the comparative lack of home runs during this era, check out the photo of the grounds for the Lloydminster tournament. You'd have had to be Mickey Mantle to pop one out of there!
Other recent additions include game reports and rosters on the 1949 Saskatoon and District City League which included the Delisle Commodores, Colonsay Monarchs, North Battleford Beavers, Saskatoon Legion, Prince Albert Veterans and Saskatoon Cubs. It was a golden age of baseball on the prairies and this league alone featured such outstanding talent as the Bentleys of Delisle (Max, Doug and Reg for the most part), Johnny Folk (right), Johnny Maroniuk, Slim Burke, Bennie Griggs, Pete Prediger, Emile Francis (far left), Les (near left) and Roy Dean, Len Breckner, Lefty Logue and Lefty Arnold. Reminds me to chase a good photo of Johnny Folk. Also on the page are brief snippets about the Garry League, Border League and baseball in Swift Current.
Some other nice little bits and pieces are also on the site. Rich has dug out the rosters for the 1918 Saskatoon City League and the Regina Northside loop. Earlier, we posted a photo of the 1917 Northsiders.
I've just become aware of another wonderful historical site, Jonathan Koch's Forgotten Alberta. Jonathan is working on a story about the 1912 Bassano Boosters of the Western Canada League and already has posted the first part of the story on boomtown (before the bust) Bassano. Lots of fascinating stories about Alberta history.
I'm now beginning to process material on the 1950 Manitoba Northern League (Dauphin, Gilbert Plains, Grandview, Neepawa, Roblin). Thanks to Rich's outstanding work we will be able to post dozens of addition game reports plus standings, maybe even some stats. Originally we had this loop pegged as the Manitoba-Saskatchewan League (with Kamsack and Yorkton in the lineup) but that didn't occur until the following season.
07 April, 2013
One of the big events of a prairie summer was the Saskatoon Exhibition Tournament, a week-long event featuring the best of the non-professional teams in the province. With good work as usual by Rich Necker in digging up clippings from the 1940s, we now have posted the game-by-game results of the tournaments from 1940 to 1949.
In addition, we've added information during this era on the leagues in the Prince Albert area and the Garry and Border leagues in addition to the Saskatoon City League. There are also lots of entries on exhibition games, especially by the Prince Albert Bohemians and tournaments in Swift Current, Yorkton, Prince George and Penticton.
Along with the game reports, we've attempted to put together the rosters for all the teams in the Saskatoon Exhibition Tournament (check the roster pages for each season). Of course, with the newspaper style of the day not to publish first names, as a rule, we are left with many, many entries of last name only. If you can help further ID any of the players, please let us know. It's been a ton of work but I hope, worthwhile.
With all the new player additions, most with just one season of play, and all the missing first names we've decided not to include all the names in our player lists. When we get a first name or some evidence that the player suited up for more than one season, we'll then add him to the list. Of course, all the names will continue to appear on the roster pages.
We try and keep an eye out for college affiliations as so many American collegiate stars came to the Great White North to play summer ball. All these connections are shown in a college section
Two more team photos have been added, well uncovered (they've been hiding among all the others but without proper links) -- the 1968 Eston Ramblers, with Merle Brynes, Bob Burchfield, Murray Steeves and the gang which captured the title in the Mid-West League champions and the 1967 Govan Angels, who become Western Canada champions in 1967.
06 April, 2013
Whew. From zero to 2,173 in a flash ! That's the BC Players List - from no names just a couple of months ago up to 2,173 now covering the latter part of the 1940s through the 1950s. Of course the usual problem is the number of missing first names as the papers of the era found it unnecessary, for the most part, to print first names (even at times when there were two guys with the same last name on the same team). So, if you can help further ID any of these players it would be a giant step forward. Check out the Players page.
While we've managed over the last few months to make considerable progress in adding material on baseball in British Columbia, we're still woefully short in the photo department. But, we keep looking! We've dug out a few for the 1953 BC Photo Gallery including veteran performer Les Edwards (right) and a few of his Penticton teammates. There's also a couple of photos on the 1951 page.
Additions also include material from the Prince Albert area of Saskatchewan. There's to be a lot of game reports from the leagues and exhibition matches coming up and a few photos now posted in the 1950 gallery. And, I am not sure I have brought your attention to the individual photos from 1940, including one of long-time Prince Albert star Dave "Lefty" Logue. Please check the attic ! If you have some photos please get in touch.
Oh those Bentley boys of Delisle, Saskatchewan. What a family of sports stars, better known of course for their artistry on the ice but for folks on the prairies the Bentleys also won acclaim for their passion on the baseball diamonds. They were a fixture on the tournament trail, especially the famous Saskatoon Exhibition Tournament. We have a photo of the Delisle team from the 1942 event.
In punching in some of the latest stuff I came across the story from 1969 when Pete Prediger missed his first Saskatoon Exhibition Tournament since he debuted there in the mid-1930s. He had plans to play but his gear failed to show up on time and his team, Neilburg, was eliminated in the first round.
Prediger was a wonder, almost always at .300+ hitter and a remarkably steady catcher. When he was 53, Prediger hit just .314 ! We're still looking for much more information on Prediger for his profile page. Contributions welcome !
Oh my how could I have overlooked a note about Kevin Glew's site Cooperstowners in Canada ? There's a treasure trove of stories and photos about yes, Canadian Hall of Famers, but much much more on the Canadian experience in baseball. Check it out, you'll be dropping in regularly. Lovely to see the new photos of Jackie Robinson in Montreal Royals' gear. Congrats to Kevin! It's such a great addition to the Canadian baseball history portfolio.
05 April, 2013
I've been so busy adding new material that I've overlooked letting you know what's new and improved! There's still much data (mainly on BC and Manitoba baseball) to be processed so there will be more and more updates in the days and weeks ahead.
Of note today is a new page with material on BC baseball in 1949. It covers two leagues, an Interior League featuring teams from Kamloops, Revelstoke, Vernon, Winfield, Rutland and Salmon Arm and a more northerly circuit with teams from Prince George and area. Included are the statistics from the Prince George area circuit which was known both as the Northern Interior League and the Central Interior League.
The statistics pages, all of them from 1907 to 1979, have been re-done to standardize the font and deal with some formatting problems. Hope they now look OK.
Much thanks to colleague Rich Necker who has spent countless hours digging out clippings and even some photos from newspaper microfilm. He's even found some team pictures, both from BC teams, two of which we've now posted - the 1953 Trail Smoke Eaters and the 1953 Nelson nine. They're not of the greatest quality, but still marvelous to have here.
We are sorry to hear of the passing for former WCBL pitcher Roberto Bouza, who died in mid-December in a Miami hospital.
Bouza was among a group of Cuban stars, including future major leaguer Jose Tartabull and top Dodger shortstop prospect Jose Bobby Cesar, who suited up in 1957 in Saskatchewan with the Regina Braves and the Davidson Cardinals. His son Javier sent along the sad news :
First I wanted to thank you for recognizing my father on this website. It is truly great. I visit it daily just to see his picture and the information you wrote about him. My father passed away with me, Javier Bouza, his youngest son at his side on December 12th 2012. He battled for several months a brain tumor called gliocarcinoma that is very rare and has no cure. He always kept his integrity and love for his family even through this very difficult time. What Herbert said, one of his best friends, was true. My father fought communism and the Castro regime for many years. He was known for stealing tons of food from local stores controlled by the government and giving it out to the neediest and poorest neighborhoods. While in prison, he went on hunger strikes protesting the regime and was forced IV fluids to keep him alive. He also helped his friends in prison who were also political prisoners get food and clean water. He brought his family to this great country, supported us and remained always a strong and great man. Right before his terminal diagnoses, he met his daughter my grand daughter, Isabella Bouza, he always asked me for a grand daughter. She now lives through him. My dad has plenty of these stories. He was a great man and my best friend. Thank you for the taking the time and remembering my dad on your site. He more than deserves it. Javier Bouza
Thanks to Jane Shury, President & CEO of the Saskatchewan Baseball Hall of Fame for clearing up our Maronuik / Maroniuk mystery. Johnny M., a left-hander, was one of the province's premier hurlers from the mid 1930s to the early 1950s. Well the spellings of his name were often as difficult to follow as the pitches he threw. As the years went on the newspapers settled on two basic variations, one with the "uik" ending and the other the "iuk" ending. The Sask HOF, which has an award in his name, once published a press release with both spellings. Well, it turns out, Johnny himself used Maronuik, but his family later provided evidence that the "uik" version was the incorrect spelling and insisted upon Maroniuk. So, we've made the appropriate changes and are sticking with Maroniuk.
Once you read a few responses like the one below you know why this history project is such a pleasurable thing to do.
My name is Nichelle Scott . . . I want to personally thank you for introducing me to my grandfather today. My grandfather was Leopoldo Reyes. Unfortunately, I never got the privilege of meeting my grandfather due to his deportation back to Cuba. Before today my family only had 1 picture of my grandfather. That picture was taken when Leopoldo Reyes married my grandmother . . . Over the past couple of years my family has searched for information on Leopoldo Reyes but we were unsuccessful. Today my cousin . . . decided to google the name Leopoldo Reyes and your great website www.attheplate.com came up. It was truly mind blowing to see so many pictures of him and to be able to read the game reports from his games. We knew he played baseball but your website enlightened us on his talent for the game. Thank you again from the bottom of my heart.
Now, would you believe that Rich Necker (yep, the same one which keeps feeding us with all the marvelous baseball information) was the bat boy on the Florida Cubans team of 1952, the first club Leopoldo Reyes played for when he came to Canada ! To be sure, Rich has provided Nichelle with much, much more than she ever knew about her grandfather.
And, so pleased to hear from Tazena Kennedy, the daughter of former major leaguer and Man-Dak star John Kennedy. John, was one of three Western Canada alumni who went on to become the first black players for teams in the majors, Kennedy with the Philadelphia Phillies, Pumpsie Green with Boston and Tom Alston for the St. Louis Cardinals. Tazena is looking through old scrapbooks to scan some material for our site.
A note from Jack Altman is always a treat. Jack, as you may know, was one of the first former Western Canada players to really dig in and get me going on this project. I drove him nuts in the beginning asking for more and more details on his seasons in Canada, including game by game results and number of walks and strikeouts and innings he had pitched. I thought it such a fun project to put together a Portrait of a Young Arm, 1954 (I think Jack was 19 at the time) to provide the blow by blow account of Altman's amazing season. He appeared in a total of 59 games, including 37 starts (of which he completed 34) throwing a total of 365 1/3 innings with 431 strikeouts. His ERA was an incredible 1.60 !
Jack is still at it, although the fastball is more like an Eephus pitch now. Fresno State took away his main assignment by cancelling the old timers' game a few years back, but he continues to work out. He sends news of buddy Greg Seaman's 50th anniversary last summer (in 109 degree weather) and their attendance this year at the Fresno State opener against their Alumni.
16 March, 2013
Just to let you know we're not loafing! We've just about completed the updates to the 1950 BC Interior League, corrections and updates to the 1950 Tournament page and the 1951 Okanagan-International Baseball League. In the next day or so we'll begin to work on the 1951 Okanagan Mainline League. Along with the game reports, we've been trying to keep track of rosters and hope to have an update on the BC rosters in the next few weeks.
The additions to the 1950 Tournament page include a whole section on the Saskatoon Exhibition Tournament of that summer and one specific game I've been chasing for years. There had been references to a one-hitter, with lots of strikeouts, pitched by Bob Herron (who later became one of the most feared sluggers in the Western Canada League) but I had never found confirmation. And, now there it is, Herron's one-hitter with 14 strikeouts.
Among other bits and pieces added is a BC photo gallery page for 1950. There are also some photos added to the Saskatchewan photo gallery for that season. And, there's the start of a 1940 photo gallery (featuring Max Bentley).
11 March, 2013
Good luck if you are thinking of switching over to Windows 8 !
I'm now having fun with the new operating system, but it's been quite a learning curve (even more so when the new computer doesn't work as advertised). But, all now seems to be humming along. Windows 8 probably works much better on a tablet than a desktop computer. Many users, me included, reported random freezes and hangs. After many hours of testing, I discovered it was my anti-virus program causing most of the trouble. Since switching to another internet security program all's been well.
Time to get back to work here.
Rich Necker has been busy again digging out material from BC and Manitoba baseball in the 1950s. It's fabulous stuff which I am now beginning to process. First up are game reports from the Okanagan International Baseball League of 1950 (an eight-team circuit with three teams from the south Okanagan: Penticton, Summerland and Oliver, plus five entries from Washington state: Brewster, Coulee Dam, Mansfield, Omak and Tonasket.) The 1950 Tournament section also has updates with reports from the Oliver and Kelowna tournaments.
Thanks to Globe and Mail correspondent Tom Hawthorn for keeping us in mind. Tom sent along info on the passing of former Brooks, Alberta, baseball star Cliff White.
White passed away last month at his home in Abbotsford, BC. He was 83. In his early 20s he was an ace hurler for the Brooks Buffaloes of southern Alberta one of the province's top intermediate clubs of the era. (Brooks Buffaloes 1952) He went on to a successful career in the Alberta Electrical Protection Branch. He is survived by his son David, daughter-in-law Deborah, grandchildren Meighan & Ryan.
We're back looking for more information on the 1954 Rosetown Phillies. A good copy of the team photo remains on our priority list. The photo was printed in the Saskatoon Star Phoenix, but we've been unable to locate the negative or any copies of the original photo. It was brought to mind again last week when we heard from the daughter of Ben Brown, who, in 1954, was a 23-year-old shortstop on the Rosetown team. If you have a copy of that photo tucked away in the attic or a scrapbook we've love to hear from you. That Rosetown team, assembled out of the Philadelphia area, lasted just one season.
Another illusive photo is the 1909 team picture of the Moose Jaw Robin Hoods of the Western Canada Baseball League, then a pro circuit. We've a poor, poor quality copy from microfilm of the photo which appeared in the Moose Jaw paper of the day. Interestingly we've had requests for the photo from two offspring of members of that team. The Moose Jaw Public Library has been of major assistance. As luck would have it, when the library went to re-copy from the paper, the page which should have had the photo showed only a hole where the photo used to be!
We've made contact with the National Baseball Congress in Wichita, Kansas, hoping they'll have some original photos which were printed in their annual guides back in the 1950s and 1960s. The NBC is the governing body of semi-pro ball in the United States and holds an annual tournament. Satchel Paige was the MVP of the original tournament in 1935.
12 February, 2013
Former Saskatoon Commodore (1959) Joe Fischer passed away February 2nd at the age of 73. Fischer was among the dozens of Fresno State products who came north for summer ball in Canada.
Fischer, who grew up in Visalia, California, loved baseball. He was a member of a Visalia Little League team which went to the World Series, an All-Star squad which made the Babe Ruth World Series, and the Fresno State team which went to the College World Series.
11 February, 2013
Whew. It's taken a bit of extra time but I'm so pleased to present even more information on BC baseball in the 1950s. Researcher extraordinaire Rich Necker has dug up details, including game reports, rosters, stats, and a few photos on Okanagan and West Kootenay ball. Among the additions : 1950 West Kootenay game reports, 1952 Okanagan League game reports, 1953 Kamloops Tournament, 1953 Okanagan game reports, 1953 Okanagan stats, and the 1954 Kamloops Tournament. And, there's a bit from Saskatchewan too such as details on the 1946 Saskatoon Exhibition Tournament.
Our earlier research into BC ball, particularly the various leagues in the Vancouver area, brought to our attention the outstanding career of Larry Walker. That's Larry Walker Sr. (left) quite the lefty pitcher and hitter for lower mainland teams in the 1950s and 1960s. His son Larry Jr. turned out to be one of the most outstanding major league hitters of his generation.
Rich's great work also brings us material for the home pages and roster pages of 1916, 1917, 1918 and 1942. The latter page features a story on how those Chicago Cubs' uniforms got to the Notre Dame Hounds of Father Athol Murray in Wilcox Saskatchewan. The article was written by famous Canadian sports writer Scott Young, father of famous rocker Neil Young.
The 1917 section now includes stats and a team photo (albeit pretty poor quality) of the 1917 Regina Northside All-Stars. Among those on the 1917 rosters, Rich discovered Jake Thielman (above right ) a former major leaguer who is now included in the major league section as well.
The Okanagan reports are a reminder of the outstanding pitching, as a teenager, by Ted Bowsfield (left) of Penticton, BC.
In 1952, for example, the 17-year-old southpaw finished with 14 wins and six losses, a 1.70 ERA, while fanning 290 batters in 174 2/3s innings. The Vernon, BC native allowed, on average, under four hits per game with 15 strikeouts per nine innings. He went on to suit up in the major leagues for seven seasons.
We've also added in several dozen photos from Saskatchewan ball from the 1960s. Included is one of the few showing Saskatoon owner/manager Spero Leakos (left) in a baseball uniform. There's also a late 1960s picture of long-time Saskatchewan star Len Breckner (right).
The 1953 Saskatchewan photo gallery also has updates, including the hard-to-find Jim Williams, Johnny Williams and Sylvester Snead. There remain several unidentified photos, especially a dozen from the Northern Saskatchewan League of 1962. Check the bottom of the page and if you can help please get in touch!
A big thanks to Brian Morrison (whose Diamonds in the Dusk site is a delight) who manages to uncover some of the most difficult to find photos. We did have the one at left of Bob Steele, a Canadian left-hander (Moose Jaw, 1913), who advanced to the majors, but it was of pretty poor quality. Brian found a much better one and it's now posted. Same for Steele's 1913 teammate Russell Northrup.
Thanks too to Jim Lester, such a good friend of Western Canada Baseball, for checking out a story on former WCBL hurler Don Poindexter (right) who came from around Jim's Peoria, Illinois area. I accidentally came across information on Poindexter from the early 1960s, including his stint at an Illinois university and play in the dying days of the Negro Leagues.
Wondering if he was still around I tried to track down his location and found a Don Poindexter of around the same age in a locale close to Peoria. Jim, thought he had passed away long ago and contacted some folks in the area who knew Don and, alas, they confirmed Don had died decades back.
The college section has many additions as we uncovered more and more college affiliations (especially a group of the 1977 Barrhead club from Lewis & Clark).
28 January, 2013
We've made updates to a number of Saskatchewan photo pages including - 1960, 1961, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1966, and 1967. There's still a few photos which we yet have to identify, the majority of them from the Saskatoon Commodores. Most of them are on this 1962 page. If you can help put names to any of the TBA pictures it would be much appreciated.
We've added more to our Manitoba coverage as well with the league rosters for 1974 and addition photos to the 1968, 1970, 1971, 1978 and 1979 photo galleries. Also, David Rottman, former Manitoba star, noticed the the 1977 Team Manitoba photo had been slugged as the 1974 club. That's now been changed.
Rich Necker has done a lot of digging to put together the teams and rosters for Saskatoon, Regina and Moose Jaw for the 1912 and 1915 seasons. His research also found the Moose Baxter story. Baxter, a former player with Edmonton in the Western Canada League was jailed and later deported from Canada. Details on the 1912 home page.
Also thanks to Rich, we have some additions to our coverage of baseball in British Columbia in 1953. Look for the changes to the BC Interior League on the 1953 Game Reports page.
Always interesting to figure out how the American players found their way up to Canada to play on the prairies.
California kid Dave Rottman (right) suited up with the Dauphin Redbirds of the Manitoba Senior League in 1970. He had come out of Yuba Junior College in northern California (about 240 miles northeast of San Francisco). Turns out his coach at Yuba was Gary Engelken who had played with the Calgary Buffaloes of the Western Canada League in 1960.
Yuba had outstanding seasons in 1969-1970 winning league titles and finishing in the top ten of more than 100 junior colleges in California. Rottman is still in the record books at Yuba - most wins in a season, 14; wins in a career, 22; career strikeouts, 269; single game strikeouts, 20. Rottman, who played in Canada through the 1980 season, now operates a rare book store in California.
Nice to hear from Beth Cook niece of former Alberta pitcher Elmer "Lefty" Thomas. Thomas played for various Alberta clubs, including the Edmonton Arrows, Cubs and Eskimos in the 1940s. Now trying to obtain some scans of a few team photos from the '40s.
17 January, 2013
Ah, the 70s, a terrible time to be a barber!
That's Ross Lynd at the left and Brian Purcha (right) of the McAuley Blazers of the Manitoba Senior League two of the pictures added to the 1976 Manitoba Photo Gallery.
Thanks to Rich Necker's digging, we've made substantial additions to the Alberta Major Baseball League game reports for 1977 and 1978 along with updates to the tournament pages for both years. The adds reflect the acquisition of material from Barrhead the league's powerhouse in the late 1970s. The pages include some individual and action photos.
Left - Scott Hergott of San Diego State University, one of the many Americans to suit up on the prairies.
And, not to forget the early years, we've added rosters for the Regina City League of 1912!
The latest material brought to our attention some brother and father-son baseball combos. Gary and Greg Zunino came up from California to play in Alberta and Saskatchewan in 1977-1978. Greg's son Mike was a first round pick in last June's MLB draft going third over-all to Seattle. And, Mike Teahen, catcher for Barrhead in the late 1970s, is the father of former major leaguer Mark Teahen who played with the Jays in 2011. Both the Teahens played for Team Canada in international competitions.
One more majorleaguer discovered - Bob Meacham, shortstop for the 1978 Barrhead Blue Jays advanced to the major leagues with the Yankees and spent parts of six years with New York.
After his summer in Alberta, Meacham turned down an opportunity to joint the White Sox organization (he was drafted in the 14th round of the 1978 MLB draft). Instead, he chose to attend San Diego State University where he was selected to the third team All-American squad as a freshmen and was named the team's MVP. He was a second team All American in 1981 and was selected by the St. Louis Cardinals in the first round of the 1981 draft (8th over-all). He was traded to the Yankees in 1982.
14 January, 2013
Whew, a close one. Setting up a new computer (with the very new Windows 8), I accidentally erased all my email files and a few other crucial pieces. Thank goodness I had backups. All's well and with a bit of a learning curve still ahead, we're ready to go!
We have more updates to the Manitoba section with the addition of statistics, both hitting and pitching, for the 1972 and 1975 seasons and a lot of new pictures in the Manitoba photo galleries from 1973 to 1977. Some of the photos are of lesser quality but, at the very least, they are placeholders for better versions we hope will come our way!
At the right is Brandon's Bob Thompson, pitching leader and Most Valuable Player in 1972.
For British Columbia, we've now added to the yearly home pages the BC leagues in operation (at least the ones we could find) from 1918 to 1975. Mainly we are concentrating on the Vancouver City leagues, the Dewdney League, Industrial League, Lower Mainland leagues, Northwest leagues the Okanagan Mainline League and the BC Interior leagues. And, of course, we remain on the lookout for material on the leagues in Victoria and area.
Also, we've added the rosters for the 1944 Vancouver Senior League and some photos from the 1944 season. That's veteran Casey Jones of the Norvans at the left.
24 December, 2012
Good wishes to all for the holidays! May Christmas find you with family and friends.
Thanks to all for the wonderful contributions during the past year. Let's hope 2013 is as productive as 2012.
We've now worked through data provided by Len Corben on Vancouver and North Shore baseball in the 1930s. Stats are now posted for 1932 and 1934 and rosters for Vancouver and area teams have been updated for the years 1930, 1932, 1934, 1935 and 1938. Yearly home pages also have been revised to show the additional leagues in operation for those particular seasons.
And we've made the last of the additions and changes to the 1979 Saskatchewan Major Baseball League photo gallery and snapshot page all from the fantastic work by Rich Necker. With all the additions to the stat sheets we've also updated the stats on the majorleaguers pages.
The Vancouver data provided a reminder of a plan to research Asahi baseball in the Slocan Valley internment camps during the Second World War. Making the best of a horrible situation, the Japanese formed baseball teams in their camps and competed against one another during the war years. If you are not familiar with the Asahi phenomenon check out this Asahi site.
22 December, 2012
The 1979 season of the Saskatchewan Major Baseball League is now pretty well in the books with the game reports and snapshots now posted to go along with the photo gallery and rosters. This completes the first five years of the SMBL and extends our over-all coverage from 1907 to the end of the 1979 season. A big round of applause for Rich Necker for digging through the files and compiling the data!
56 years later the former teammates have a chat.
In 1956 in Alberta, Joe Weremy (left) and Jim Lester (right) were teammates on the Granum White Sox -- Lester, the smooth-fielding third baseman, Weremy the little lefty hurler.
Jim, in Peoria, Illinois, happened to see the reference below to Joe in Quesnel, BC, and decided to give him a call to catch up on more than 50 years since they last met. A nice visit for both of the former Western Canada stars.
The go-to guy for information, especially photos of baseball, in the Pacific Northwest is Seattle's David Eskenazi. He has an amazing collection of baseball photos, documents and artifacts, some of which are used in displays at Safeco Field.
David has been of major assistance to Western Canada Baseball in digging out pictures and info on various players and, in particular, in helping to identify various photos. I've just become aware that he now has a weekly historical feature at Northwest Press. It's called the Wayback Machine (with noted Seattle reporter and columnist Steve Rudman). Even if Seattle isn't your home turf, you'll enjoy the Wayback Machine. Ah, if only every centre had such a feature! Great stuff.
Went looking for "A", also found "B", "C", "D" and "E". Just one of the fascinating aspects about research - you go looking for one thing and find several others along the way.
The original quest was to find a photo of Greg Zunino (far left) of the 1978 Eston Ramblers. The search engines pointed to stories on a site by author Steve Travers (B) (near left) who, it turns out, was Greg's high school teammate. Steve, you might recall, provided us with information awhile back about his tenure playing baseball in Kamloops in the 1980s. And, Greg's coach on that high school team (selected as the best in the USA in 1977) was Al Endriss (C) (above right) who is probably familiar to you from our stories on the Medicine Hat Mohawks of 1951. Endriss also played football in Canada with the Calgary Stampeders. The search also noted that Greg's brother Gary Zunino (D) played on that Marin County high school squad. Gary also played up here in 1979, in the Alberta Major Baseball League. And the trail leads to one of this year's top major league draft picks (third over-all) catcher Mike Zunino (E) selected by the Seattle Mariners. Yep, Mike is Greg's son. An interesting internet romp !
One more major leaguer added to the list of Western Canada players who went on to MLB. Greg Bargar pitched for the Saskatoon Patrick Liners in 1979, going 6-1 before signing with the Montreal Expos. He appeared in 33 games over three seasons in the majors with the Expos and St. Louis Cardinals.
19 December, 2012
For 1979, there are additions, including reports on the Canadian Senior Baseball Championship, to the tournament page.
Stumbled upon some on-line resources from Quesnel, BC and in flipping through editions of the local paper I was pleasantly surprised to find items on Joe Weremy who was a standout in both baseball and hockey in the 1950s and 1960s in Alberta and northern BC.
We first picked up the Weremy trail in 1953 when the little left-hander pitched for the Beverly Drakes (an Edmonton area team). Into the late 1970s, Weremy is winning batting titles and MVP awards in Quesnel (up near Prince George, about 400 km/244 miles north of Kamloops).
There's been a total re-formulation of the Player Lists, from 1907 right through to the end of the 1970s. There are now separate files for BC baseball.
17 December, 2012
Rich Necker flooded us with so much marvelous material it's taken us awhile to process all of it ! Now posted are the game reports from the 1978 Saskatchewan Major Baseball League season (won by the Eston Ramblers). Check the 1978 home page for links to the game reports and previously posted photos and snapshots.
Rich also took some time to add material for the 1907 and 1908 seasons to provide more information on amateur leagues in existence at the time. And, there's the beginning of game reports for the 1953 seasons of the Okanagan Mainline League and BC Interior League. This was the last season of local ball for Penticton sensation Ted Bowsfield.
Photos added here and there, including one of a young & clean shaven Randy Sawa the left-hander of the Regina Red Sox. This photo was from his 1967 season.
2013 is to be celebrated as the centennial of the community of Red Deer, Alberta. One of the displays is to be on 100 years of sports in the city. Do you have any photos of sporting activities in Red Deer? Let me know and I'll pass them along.
15 December, 2012
We've moved on to the 1978 summer of the Saskatchewan Major Baseball League and Rich Necker has dug up player photos, snapshots, stats, tournament reports and rosters with game reports still to come.
Photos include snapshots such as Bill Bell (left) of Regina Red Sox receiving congratulations from teammates as he finished his home run trot. There's more than a dozen action shots.
Check the 1978 home page for links.
We also added some game reports on the Okanagan Mainline League and the BC Interior League of 1951. The star of the Okanagan loop was a sixteen-year-old left-hander. Ted Bowsfield went on to a major league career.
The recent photo of the Eston Ramblers of 1975, the Saskatchewan Major League champions, prompted a search to try and determine if the catcher was Bobby Reeve or Bobby Reeves and whether he was among the players from Azusa Pacific college in California.
The on-line search led us to Pastor Bob Reeve of Brea, California, a community southeast of Los Angeles. Bob and his wife Sherry are the pastors of The Cause Community Church.
Yep, it's the same Bob Reeve who was kind enough to make the confirmation of the connection with Eston baseball and provide the names of Robert Murphy, John Littlefield, and Ted Brennecke as other players from Azusa Pacific who played for the Eston Ramblers.
So happy to make contact with Barrie Day and Larry Tollefson of Moose Jaw baseball of the 1960s and 1970s. (We had Barrie listed as Barry for the most part, so we've made all those changes too!). The Moose Jaw Regals of that era are to be inducted into the Saskatchewan Baseball Hall of Fame next summer. Larry has been able to confirm some IDs in the team photo of the 1969 Moose Jaw Regals. There are still conflicting views on whether the last unidentified player is Reyn Davis or perhaps Scott Preston.
The College section has also seen a little update with additions made to the various colleges, including Azusa. Our list goes from Acadia University to Yale.
12 December, 2012
A big thank you to Neil McMillan (left), a stalwart with Saskatoon, Regina and Eston in the 1970s, for sending along a team photo of Eston's 1975 championship squad. The Ramblers captured the title in the inaugural season of the new circuit.
From it we've been able to extract pretty good individual pictures of all the players (see the 1975 Saskatchewan photo gallery). As luck would have it Neil's photo was one of those which didn't turn out as well as some of the others. Nonetheless, we are very pleased to have this set of colour pictures which includes such local stars as Merle Brynes (far right), long-time Ramblers player and manager, and future major league pitcher and still MLB pitching coach Gorman Heimueller, (near right) It sure would be be nice to track down more Kindersley, Unity, Eston, Saskatoon, Moose Jaw team pix.
As a result of Rich Necker's talent, digging and hard work we've added more years of the Saskatchewan Major Baseball League. We're now up to 1977 with game-by-game reports and some photos, both individual and action shots.
Rich has also begun checking out baseball in the BC Interior in the 1950s and we hope to have some of that posted within the next few days. It's a real step forward to be able to provide material on the old Okanagan Mainline League. We've also added bits and pieces to our Vancouver coverage of the 1950s and are thankful to Len Corben (author of the marvelous little book on pitcher Ernie Kershaw) for sending along some clippings and stats from the early years of the amateur and semi-pro leagues.
Thanks to former Manitoba star Dave Rottman, more bits and pieces have been added to the Manitoba coverage of the 1970s.
A nice surprise to hear from Barrie Day (Moose Jaw Steelers and Regals, 1960s)! Here's hoping he can help provide IDs for some of the Moose Jaw team photos.
And, a few photos added to the 1920s photo gallery to note a few of the local, amateur stars.
07 December, 2012
The stories on the 1978 Canadian Senior Baseball Championship played in Southern Saskatchewan feature what may well be the best-ever performance by an individual player in a short series.
Randy Gregg had a week for the scrapbook.
The 22-year-old medical student crushed a two-run homer on day one as Alberta demolished Quebec 10-3. He did double-duty on day three as he smacked a pair of tape-measure home runs in a 15-8 win over British Columbia and, In the second game of the day, Gregg took over mound duties and fired a three-hitter with ten strikeouts in a seven inning win over Prince Edward Island. He was just beginning.
On Alberta's fourth day of competition, the red head crushed three circuit blows and added a single and two walks in a semi-final victory over Ontario. In the tournament final, a 9-2 win over the host Regina-Moose Jaw Combines, Gregg smacked two more out of the park, both three-run shots, and was selected as the Most Valuable Player of the Canadian Senior Championship.
His professional career had yet to begin. That would be on ice. As he returned to his medical studies at the University of Alberta (he had begun undergraduate studies at age 16), the heady centre fielder/pitcher took up his position on defence for the U of A hockey club. In his final season with the team he was named the country's top university player. He played with Team Canada at the Olympics before turning pro with the Edmonton Oilers. In his ten-year career in the National Hockey League, Gregg was on five Stanley Cup winning teams. Upon his retirement from hockey, Gregg finished his medical training and hung up his shingle as an M.D. Dr. Gregg is still involved in sports medicine in Edmonton.
The stats for the 1976 and 1977 Saskatchewan Major Baseball League have been posted. Over the last few weeks we've posted stats for the 1950 Kingsway League of BC, the 1954 Vancouver and District League, 1959 Vancouver Industrial League, 1973 and 1977 Manitoba Senior League, and 1975 Saskatchewan Major Baseball League.
02 December, 2012
Wade Wanner of Regina Red Sox (above left) and Rod Gehring of Unity Cardinals (above right) were among the top hurlers of the 1976 season.
The SMBL photo galleries of 1975, 1976 and 1977 have also been posted or enhanced. Several of these are obviously lacking in quality and we are on the lookout for good quality photos. If you can help, please write !
28 November, 2012
Happy to come across another 1950s photo of sports writer and columnist Dick Beddoes. Ah, this one with the hat. Beddoes, who said he was from Sheep Tracks, Alberta, was one of the most colourful, stylistic, interesting and talented writers of the day. I first met Dick back in the late 1960s or early 1970s during his tenure with the Globe and Mail, first in sports and later as a political columnist.
They don't make 'em like this anymore. What a pleasure it was to be in Toronto during the days of Beddoes at the Globe and Milt Dunnell at the Star.
Good friend Mary-Lou Iuliani of Calgary sends along a nice feature article from the Calgary Herald on former Calgary Jimmies slugger John Self.
He was known as "Boom-Boom" Self back in the 60s and 70s when he provided the punch for Winnipeg in the pro ranks and then the Calgary entry in the old Alberta Major Baseball League.
He had come to Calgary with a well stamped passport having played with the legendary Kansas City Monarchs, had a stint in pro-ball in the St. Louis farm system (including a summer in Winnipeg), played in Quebec's Provincial League, in Japan, Italy (where he put baseball on the agenda & he's still fondly remembered) and the Netherlands before settling down in Calgary.
At age 76, he's become quite an entertainer. He's always been around music (Self says Gladys Knight is a cousin) and, in retirement, he's begun performing at seniors' residences around the city. The story in the Herald was about his competing in a national talent competition for seniors. He made the finals, held recently at Niagara Falls, Ontario.
After reading THE PITCHING PROFESSOR : The Life and Times of Ernie Kershaw by Ernie Kershaw and Len Corben I went looking for Kershaw's stint in the Alberta Big Four League in 1947 and began adding more of the game reports in the process. Although the Edmonton papers are not available for that summer and much of the Calgary Herald is missing, we've managed to get in a few weeks of coverage and will begin looking for more.
And, as returned from making a pot of tea, I noticed a bunch of emails from the tireless Rich Necker ! Already he's begun tackling the 1976 season of the Saskatchewan Major Baseball League. More to come !!
27 November, 2012
Thank you Rich ! Mr. Necker has dug out details on the Trail Smoke Eaters of the early 1950s. We've now posted the game reports for 1951 and 1952 (which includes information on sports casting legend Eric Bishop). Trail was one of the important locales for baseball in the BC interior.
In locating a photo of one of the Trail players, we were reminded of one of the greatest pitching efforts in Western Canada.
In 1952, Joey Jankola (right) then pitching for the Calgary Mercurys of the Chinook League fired a no-hitter and struck out 24 !
We've also expanded our reports on baseball in the Vancouver area, especially in 1951, 1952 and 1959. For the most part we've now posted whatever information we could find on the ten year period from 1950 to 1959.
In the process we became re-educated about Ted Bowsfield (left) a Penticton native, who excelled at a very early age. He had at least two no-hitters as a teenager pitching in the Okanagan Mainline League. He spent seven seasons in the major leagues.
As a result of our research we now have a list of some 1,100 names of players of the 1950-1959 period. Many are missing first names (the papers of the day often made reference to last names only) and there appears to be a fair amount of duplication, but it will take some time to sort it out. I hope to post that preliminary list in the next few days.
Contact with Dave Rottman (left) the Manitoba Senior League veteran of the 1970s, has prompted us to fill in more of the blanks in Manitoba coverage.
We've added a few team photos - 1968 St. Lazare Athletics, 1970 Souris Cardinals, 1973 Riverside Canucks, 1973 Team Manitoba, 1977 Team Manitoba, 1976 McAuley Blazers. Individual photos have been added to the 1959, 1971, 1973, 1975, 1976, 1977, 1978 and 1979 photo galleries (that's pitching ace Grant Everard (right).
And, would any instalment be complete without a mystery?
That's Dan Kaupla (right). In 1975 he fashioned a 9-1 won/lost record as a rookie in the Manitoba Senior League. A year later he was even better, 12-0, and was named the league's Most Valuable Player. Then, nothing. He disappeared from baseball.
Intrigued, I discovered he had played a little pro ball before coming to Manitoba. The right-hander had been drafted out of Fullerton Junior College in California by the Detroit Tigers in the 5th round of the 1972 draft. He pro career was over after just two seasons, 1972 and 1973. I figured that after such outstanding seasons in Manitoba he might be back in pro ball. But, I've found no baseball trail after 1976. Hard to believe he'd just quit after an MVP, 12-0 season. Another winter project !
20 November, 2012
This has been a very busy period and we are so pleased with the results. A major stab has been made at baseball coverage in British Columbia and the indefatigable Rich Necker has put together the inaugural season (1975) of the Saskatchewan Major Baseball League. It's comprehensive and highly entertaining. The 1975 coverage includes game reports, photos, snapshots and some stats too.
There are some gaps in the BC material due to a lack of source material but, at very least, a framework has been established for coverage of the many leagues both in the Lower Mainland and the Interior. So far, we've managed to get game reports and a few photos on the Vancouver Industrial League, Kingsway League, Vancouver & District League, Dewdney League, Northwest Semi-Pro League, Lower Mainland League and Okanagan Mainline League. At present the material runs from 1950 to 1959.
What few photos we have are posted here :
The statistics are normally awfully hard to track down and Vancouver is no exception. We have partial stats for just a couple of years :
In the process, we've renewed a link with former Lloydminster Meridian Barry Arnett (left) who happened to be quite the star in Vancouver and area baseball in the 1950s and 1960s. He's checking the attic and storage areas for clippings and photos.
And, in a wonderful coincidence, Mr. Necker called Trail, BC, his home for a time and through his knowledge and contacts there we've begun to put together some bits and pieces of Interior baseball, The tournament reports of 1951 and 1952 and the roster pages of those seasons reflect that beginning.
So far I kept separate the players' list for BC. Until I can fill in a lot more names and get first names of many of those on the list we"ll maintain a separate section for the BC players. At the following links are the players identified in the 1950 to 1959 period. A to L, M to Z
In searching through the Vancouver Sun of the 1950s I was pleased to come across columns by sportswriter Dick Beddoes (right). Many years later, Dick would be a colleague and friend as a political columnist for the Globe and Mail in Toronto. Dick has been added to our Writers & Broadcasters Page. It was a bit of a shock to see the photo on his Vancouver column as in our time together in Toronto I rarely saw him without his trademark fedora. I think he wore the hat on his television show as well !
Much thanks to Don MacDonald, Daryl Penn, Jerry Flanagan and Barry Arnett for helping to identify player photos from the 1960s. It means we've reduced the number of unidentified players in the following photos to a handful.. The photos giving us the most trouble are those of the Saskatoon teams, especially the 1962 Commodores. If you can help out, please let us know. And, if you note any incorrect IDs on the following also be sure to drop a line.
Once identified, the photos are scheduled to be placed in the Photo Galleries for the appropriate years. The Saskatoon Ambassador photos, ID'ed by Daryl Penn, and the North Battleford and Kindersley photos, ID'ed by Don MacDonald and Jerry Flanagan are among those now posted in the 1962 section.
Ah, the connections. Turns out Don MacDonald and my brother were curling competitors back in the day!
Hugh skipped the team representing Lloydminster zone in the 1956 Schoolboys' northern Playdowns in Saskatoon. I skipped the North Battleford team, and we played against each other. It was a rather historic event, as they decided during the event that the sliding rule should be changed immediately. They brought in a former Canadian Champion, Stan Austman, to demonstrate the need for change. With all competitors gathered for the demonstration, Stan slid the length of the ice, stopping with the rock on the button at the other end. The "hog line rule" was enforced from that point on. Still on the curling topic, in the June 30, 2009 update you mention ball players who also made a name curling. The late Ron Mills who is in the 1962 Klippers photos was a well known Saskatchewan curler, a 1980 Brier and World Champion playing third for Rick Folk. Also Ed Lukowich played for North Battleford and Saskatoon NSBL teams in the late 60's, early 70's. Ed was a Canadian Schoolboys' champ, two time Brier champ and won the Worlds in 1986.
I don't know how he does it, but Brian Morrison manages to dig up a lot of hard-to-find photos. Among the latest gems, he's found good pictures of former Western Canada players Bobby Prescott, Bob Whitcher, Charley Peete (right), Lou Tost, and Butch Rounsaville who went on to get a little time in major league baseball. These photos, and a few others I've updated ( Mickey Rocco, Harry Taylor, Pete Taylor,, Fred Vaughn) are now posted in our major leaguers section. Brian provides some fascinating reading over at his site Diamonds in the Dusk.
There's one more entry in our major leaguers section too. Through out BC research we discovered Jack Spring of Spokane played a bit in Canada before embarking on a lengthy pro career which included stops with a half dozen major league clubs.
Among the discoveries to come from the research into the Northwest Semi-Pro League was the Deming, Washington, team which played in the Northwest Semi-Pro loop with Vancouver. Deming featured the amazing Zenders. Nine, brothers played on the same team, NINE of them. I managed to dig up a couple of photos. The team finished second in the National Baseball Congress Tournament of 1956. I'd guess Barry Arnett played against some of these guys.
A number of the stats pages have been re-done to iron out some difficulties in the format. It seems they didn't always appear properly on the page in one browser or another. They now seem to be OK from this end.
So pleased to hear from Dave Rottman, a California kid (left), who came to play in Manitoba in the 1970s. He's sent along some clippings from the early 1970s and the complete statistics from the 1973 season. Here's hoping he might be able to locate some photographs from those days on the prairie. He's in the midst of writing a book The Existential Ballplayer, on his baseball and life experiences. He has some stories of his days in Canada and I hope to post some soon. As a result of Dave's connection we've now posted the start of a photo gallery for the 1973 Manitoba season, and a compilation of all the Manitoba Senior League records to 1973.
The BC research also helped solve a mystery. Karen Ball-Pyatt has been trying to track down the whereabouts of her dad, Gary Ball, in 1957 and 1958, the period between his stint with Lloydminster Meridians in 1956 and with Saskatoon in 1959. I came across a pitcher Ball in the BC leagues those years and asked Karen if he could have been in Vancouver. Well, It turns out I had the information all the time. Karen went back to a clipping I had provided years ago, and it noted his play in the Vancouver area those years.
Just finished a little gem of a book by Ernie Kershaw and Len Corben. THE PITCHING PROFESSOR : The Life and Times of Ernie Kershaw ostensibly is about Ernie's baseball career in the 1930s and 1940s and it surely is that but it's much more. I was so impressed with Ernie's keen observations of his various adventures and his ability to put in context the many events of his lifetime. It was such a interesting history lesson too. I know Barry Arnett is enjoying the book as much as I did. Ernie was 102 when he passed away in February.
03 November, 2012
We've long hoped to incorporate much more information about baseball in British Columbia but the lack of on-line resources has been a major impediment. Recently, however, we've discovered a few bits and pieces on-line and have been able to make some small steps forward.
So, I picked out 1955, a year Vancouver did not have a professional team, and began to pore through copies of the Vancouver Sun. Thank goodness they gave pretty good coverage to three, main leagues - the City Senior League, the Industrial League and the Northwest Semi-Pro League (along with a couple of notes about the Okanagan Mainline League and an Interior League). And so we've now added game reports, some photos and rosters for the summer of 1955. Unfortunately, there's no sign of any on-line newspapers for Victoria which had a thriving baseball community.
With the resumption of professional ball in 1956, I'm not sure how much coverage the amateur and semi-pro teams received, but will go hunting over the winter to continue to add to the BC portfolio.
There are some connections with prairie ball. Gary Pennington (left), for example, was a high school player in Vancouver in 1955 who later turned up playing in the Western Canada League. Art Bull was another.
And, there were a couple of Vaselenaks -- Frank and Leo -- playing in the Vancouver City League. Related to the Granum and Lethbridge star John Vaselenak ?
We're also very pleased to add material from the 1955 season of the Greater Winnipeg Senior Baseball League. Coverage in the Winnipeg Free Press was spotty, but we have most of the game reports and photos, mainly of the champion St. Boniface Native Sons. Rosters included as well.
A few more pieces added to the 1946 Alberta game reports.
It was a wonderful surprise to hear from Dave Rottman a star of Manitoba baseball in the 1970s. I've long searched for details on Manitoba teams of that era without much success and Dave played in the province from 1970 to 1978 so I am hoping he'll be quite the asset.
I've re-done the 1970s Player List again adding about 80 more players and reformatting the section to remove some duplication of information. The college section also has had a fair number of updates as we discover more and more college affiliations for players. And, we've began laying out the framework for extending our coverage to 1979. The yearly home pages have been added, 1975 to 1979, pretty well just skeletons for now, but we're set to fill 'em in ! Here's the revised 1975 page, as an example.
Colleague Rich Necker is preparing for a busy winter. He's decided to tackle the inaugural season of the Saskatchewan Major Baseball League. After the Northern SK and Southern SK loops faded away remnants of the two leagues began to form into a new, more powerful circuit which began play in 1975. That's the target of Rich's latest effort. It will be a significant addition to our coverage. Already we've added one player to our major leaguers pages from the 1975 season. John Littlefield, who pitched for Eston that year went on to suit up with St. Louis and San Diego in the early 1980s.
Just received Len Corben's book in the mail. THE PITCHING PROFESSOR is about Ernie Kershaw, who passed way early this year at age 102. At the time he was one of professional baseball's oldest living former players. Kershaw was a major force in West Coast baseball, especially during the 1930s and 1940s. He even turned up with the Calgary Purity 99s in the late 1940s. So far, I've just had a chance to glance through the book and it's loaded with photos and memories of the times. It looks fascinating. Congrats Len!
Dan Yaw of Lakeland, Florida sent along a link to an item he was selling on eBay - a photo of a Green Bay, Wisconsin team, including Dick Brookins a former Western Canadian player who was banned from the Canadian league in 1910 because of the colour of his skin. (Right - That's believed to be Brookins in the middle.) Brookins, thought to have been of African-American background, had professed to be of Aboriginal lineage. Dan's item had linked to Rick's profile on Brookins.
And, I've finally got around to dividing up the news page as it was getting a bit longish. Thus, there now is a News-16 page which covers the period from September, 2011 to August, 2012.
26 October, 2012
Done. More updates to the Player Lists, including a separate 1970s section. This puts us on the path to extend our coverage to at least the end of the 1970s. So what began more than a decade ago as coverage of my old hometown team, the Lloydminster Meridians, in their 1954 to 1961 run in the Western Canada League has expanded bit by bit until coverage now runs from the early 1900s to the end of the 70s. Thanks to all who've helped along the way!
25 October, 2012
Whew. The lists of players have been updated. 409 new names added, 4 duplicates removed. Most of the new entries are from the 1940s and 1950s. Player Lists Still trying to figure out how to deal with players from after 1974 (as we had set 1974 as the end date of our coverage). These are mainly players from the Alberta Major League of 1975 to 1978. The easiest way might be to just add a 1970s section. Coming soon!
15 October, 2012
A chance meeting on the Nakusp waterfront walk with two couples from Southern Alberta encouraged me to research baseball leagues around the Lethbridge area in the mid and late 1940s.
The fathers of two of the visitors had played on area teams during that era. And, as a product of that search, we now have some basic information on 1946 baseball in Alberta. We now have some game reports, especially on the Foothills League, and complete stats from that Southern Alberta circuit.
And, in chasing barnstorming teams who whirled across the prairies, I've added a couple of bits on the Texas Colored Giants of 1929, the Detroit Colored Giants of 1936, the Twin Cities Colored Giants of 1946 and Earl Mack's major league stars of 1946.
We`ve added the team photo of the 1951 Fresno State Bulldogs. Nine or ten of the FSU players spent some time on the diamonds of Western Canada.
Daryl Penn (left) and Don MacDonald (right), among the players who suited up for my hometown team of Lloydminster, are among those trying to track down the names of players in some team photos recently posted. If you spot any familiar faces, please let me know.
There are four photos from 1962 - Kindersley Klippers, Saskatoon Commodores, Saskatoon Ambassadors and North Battleford Beavers. Then there's what I believe is the 1966 Saskatoon Commodores, and the 1969 Moose Jaw Regals. Thanks to Roy Rowley who remembered most of the guys in the Regals' photo.
Word from Miami that former Regina and Davidson, Saskatchewan, pitcher Roberto Bouza is in poor condition in hospital in Florida.
Best pal Herbert Sosa says Roberto, one of the dozens of Cubans who came to Canada for baseball in the 1950s, has had heart surgery and, if that wasn`t enough, doctors have also diagnosed a brain tumour. Roberto apparently resumed his ball career in Cuba after his summer in Canada, and later worked for the CIA in Cuba against the Castro regime. He was jailed for his activities and spent ten years behind bars. Eventually he made it to the USA. He has two sons and a daughter in Miami. Herbert met Bouza at a park in Miami to "play dominoes and share laughs". Roberto is in Homestead Hospital. One of Bouza's teammates on the 1957 Regina and Davidson teams was future major leaguer Jose Tartabull.
A SABR (Society for American Baseball Research) colleague, Alain Usereau, is trying to track down one-time Montreal Expo minor leaguer, Mel Kennedy. Kennedy also played in the Intercounty League in Ontario in the 1960s and 1970s. If you can help, please drop a line.
We're also on the lookout for any information on James (Jim) J. Muldoon who played for the Waterloo Tigers and Kitchener Panthers of the Intercounty League in the 1940s and 1950s.
Always great to hear from Jack Altman, who was instrumental in helping me delve into coverage of Southern Alberta ball of the 1950s and 1960s. Jack still works out and while the fast one might be a tad slower now, he's really enjoying the continuation of his life-long fascination with baseball. Jack's note brings news of the Seastrom's 50th wedding anniversary at Visalia, California. Greg and Jack have been pals since they were kids.
Lots of folks trying to track down relatives who may have played ball in Western Canada. Vickie Skala of Minnesota is searching for information on her grandfather, John (Jack) Avery Howard. Jack, as he was known, was from Iowa and appears to have gone to Canada to play baseball and hockey. He was a railway worker in Edmonton and enlisted in the Canadian Army in 1916. It`s believed his playing career included the years 1913 to 1916. He`s not in our database of the Western Canada League of the day, but may have played for one of the numerous independent teams.
We're awaiting more information from Linda Van Zeyl of Los Angeles on her grandfather who played ball with Moose Jaw in the early years of the last century. We are searching for more information on Thomas Daniel Hickler. Linda is sending along a photo which might help to narrow down the date and team.
Beryl Henry is looking for more information on Walter Haubrich of the Kindersley Klippers of the 1960s. Beryl thinks her dad and Walter might be related.
Keith Antolik of Illinois is chasing any baseball cards from the late 1950s or early 1960s of Joe Fischer, the Fresno State alumnus, who played for the Saskatoon Commodores. Cards were still pretty rare in those days for anyone not in the majors and I don't believe Joe ever took a shot at pro ball. However, some times local or regional business might sponsor cards of their area teams.
16 September, 2012
There are four photos from 1962 - Kindersley Klippers, Saskatoon Commodores, Saskatoon Ambassadors and North Battleford Beavers. Then there's what I believe is the 1966 Saskatoon Commodores, and the 1969 Moose Jaw Regals. Your assistance much appreciated!
In most of the photos I've posted a list of the players who I think played on that year's team. Thanks for the help.