1951 Western Canada & Saskatchewan Snapshots     

Rockets Trophy    

Manager Jim Williams and another member of the Indian Head Rockets (Toribio Leal?) accepting the trophy for winning the Foam Lake Tournament and a berth in the Saskatchewan playoffs. 

Note the "eagle" emblem on the left sleeve. The ball club had been the Jacksonville Eagles before crossing the border and making a few uniform alterations.  And note, "Rocket" and "Rockets" as you see more photos of the uniforms.

The Florida-based team became Indian Head's representative in Saskatchewan baseball. 

Williams trophy SaskatoonJim Williams, the manager of the Indian Head Rockets receiving the trophy for winning the Saskatchewan championship.

The Rockets may have been the best team on the prairies that summer. They walked away with the title in the Western Canada League, at one point winning 22 straight games.

They won three tourneys, shared top prize in another, and, while beaten by Sceptre for the Western Canada title, the Rockets had triumphed in the Saskatchewan final and, in three tournaments, had whipped Sceptre in semi-final games. 

The Rockets didn't sit still for long.  When not in league games or tournaments there was the exhibition circuit.  In June, for example, the Rockets make a clean sweep of four games with clubs in the Northern loop -- Delisle, North Battleford and Saskatoon. 

(Photos courtesy of the Indian Head Museum)

Mohawks Headline

This headline, in the Medicine Hat paper went the full width of the page. It announced the Medicine Hat (California) Mohawks 16-2 win over Moose Jaw clinching third spot in the WCBL standings. 

Foam Lake Tournament


Right - Foam Lake Tournament 1951. 

Members of the Indian Head Rockets relax between games. 

Rockets whipped North Battleford Beavers 10-3 in the final to take top prize money. 

(Photo, Saskatchewan Baseball Hall of Fame)



Shields, Nixon, Swegle

Red Nixon, the hard-luck guy of the weekend in that rain wreaked havoc on his $7,300 baseball tournament on the field and at the gate, managed to muster a big smile last night for Brick Swegle, manager of the California Mohawks, who play out of Medicine Hat. 

Swegle agreed to replay the final game at Renfrew Park starting at 8:00 o'clock tonight, even though his club had held a 6-0 bulge when play was suspended in the fifth inning of the finale last evening. 

The California baseball man decided to stay over to give Nixon a chance of breaking even, although the additional expenses incurred might not make it worthwhile to gamble for a $2,500 first prize instead of the $1,500 that goes to the other finalist.

Left to right, they are Jimmy Shields, third baseman-manager of Eston Ramblers; Red Nixon, promoter of the tournament; and Brick Swegle.  Contributing to the worries of Mr. Swegle is the need for high-tailing out of town immediately after tonight's game for Indian Head where the Mohawks play a Western Canada League doubleheader starting at 2:00 p.m. Thursday.  Two thousand fans were in the stands last night. (Edmonton Journal, August 8, 1951)

Brick Swegle

Brick Swegle, manager of the California Mohawks,  accepts the Coca-Cola Trophy from Gordon Gilbert of the Regina Coca-Cola Bottling Co. for victory at the Indian Head Tournament.  At left is Graham Williams, tournament chairman. Far right is Jimmy Robison, Western Canada Director of the National Baseball Congress.

California Mohawks

The barnstorming California Mohawks (left to right) - Al Endriss, Curt Barclay, Ray White, John Noce, Ray Perasso.   (Photo courtesy of John Noce)

Tire trouble

(Fixing a tire) : Larry Bolger, Brick Swegle, Ray White, Ethel Swegle, the backside of an unidentified one actually working on the problem!, Bill Raeder, John Noce, Curt Barclay(Photo courtesy of John Noce)

Lost on the prairie

Lost on the prairie? Ray White, Bud Watkins (looking for help?) and Curt Barclay  (Photo courtesy of John Noce)

Barclay, Endriss & White

Curt Barclay, Al Endriss and Ray White(Photo courtesy of John Noce)

White walls too!

On the road again. Brick Swegle & John Noce  (Photo courtesy of John Noce)

The ol' milk wagon

Hangin' out at the milk wagon. Ray White, John Noce and Bud Watkins.  (Photo courtesy of John Noce)

Travellin' men

Travelin' men - John Noce, Pay Perasso, Bud Watkins   (Photo courtesy of John Noce)

California Mohawks crowdMohawks warm up

Talk about getting seats close to the action !  (Photos courtesy of John Noce)

John NoceBud Francis


Far left :  Medicine Hat catcher John Noce

Left : Mohawks pitcher Bud Francis 

Below: Fans jammed Cairns Field to watch games in the Optimist Club's $3,500 baseball tournament.

The bit of action features Eston's Chico O'Farrill coming in to third base on a steal. 

Delisle's Jackie Woods is waiting for the throw, which came a fraction too late to catch the Eston flyer.

(Saskatoon Star-Phoenix, July 3, 1951)   


Optomist Tournament

Noce suspended


A telegram from the league to California Mohawks owner S L (Brick) Swegle
announcing the suspension of Mohawks catcher John Noce for one game and
congratulating the Mohawks for their victory at the Indian Head Tournament.



Gus Kyle    Bud Ellington

Left :  Prairie standout Gus Kyle, Regina catcher.  Right :  Mohawks' first baseman Bud Ellington

         Curt Barclay     Al Endriss     John Noce     Ray Perasso     Bud Watkins     Bud Francis
         Curt Barclay       Al Endriss         John Noce       Ray Perasso      Bud Watkins     Bud Francis

Indian Head Pitching

Indian Head's formidable mound staff in 1951 (we believe). Our best guess - L-R - Peanuts Davis, Johnny Coleman, Jim Morrow, Jesse Blackman, Daniel Jenkins and Toribio Leal. 


A surprise find at an Indian Head baseball gathering in 2023 (held just after the Hall of Fame ceremony that summer in Battleford, Saskatchewan).

Allen Braithwaite of Indian Head turned up with a photo from a dresser drawer.

None other than Negro League legend Chet Brewer, a mainstay of the famous Kansas City Monarchs, who came north to pitch for the Rockets of Indian Head in 1951.

Brewer came to Canada that season to suit up with both Sceptre and Indian Head in prairie ball.

The following season,1952, Brewer became the first Black manager in organized baseball heading up the Porterville, California, Comets/Padres in the Southwest International League.

He was back in Canada in 1953 as the playing manager of the Carman Cardinals of the Mandak League.

Many considered Brewer to be the equal of baseball superstar Satchel Paige. Over the years the pair were both teammates and competitors. They faced each other in a 1935 exhibition in Winnipeg that ended in a 0-0 tie. Paige fanned 17 and Brewer 13

Indian Head Rockets

    Indian Head Rockets, 1951.  Back row, third from the left is catcher Louis Green
    Front row, third from left is pitcher Jim Morrow.

Barnhill, Gray

                         Left - Catcher Herbert Barnhill.  Right - pitcher Pancho Gray.

Horace Latham & friend

                                          Left - Horace Latham, Right - Lindsay Carswell

Moose Jaw 1951





Left - 1951 Moose Jaw Canucks - getting ready for a practice.

Back row - Art Worth at the left standing beside first baseman Berlyn Hodges.

Centre fielder Lowell Hodges is seen putting on his spikes, while in the foreground third baseman Gerry Parker is packing up his club bag.


1951 Moose Jaw

Right - four Canucks pore over the latest copy of The Sporting News (the bible of baseball at the time).

Left to right - Alex Palica, shortstop Dwight "Rip" Collins, catcher Jimmy Harford and Johnny Mulholland, pitcher-outfielder.

Palica's brother was Irv Palica who made it to the majors with the Brooklyn Dodgers. Irv was just 17 when he first came up (as an infielder) in 1945. He returned as a pitcher and spent parts of ten years in Major League Baseball with Brooklyn and Baltimore.

Emile Francis



Emile "The Cat" Francis, a hockey Hall of Famer, was a standout on the diamond as a player and manager over a 15-year career mainly with his home town North Battleford Beavers. "The Cat" was a moniker from his days as a hockey goalie - quick as a cat.

A fiery performer, Francis was at the centre of several major brouhahas including one in Edmonton in 1957 which brought out the police to escort him out of the park.

"There are three policemen behind the Edmonton bench and three behind ours.  All of a sudden I see six policemen coming, one is about to grab me and Johnny (Ford) nails him.  They call for the wagon and off we go to jail in there with prostitutes and drunks."

He said getting ejected wasn't so bad in Saskatoon. "Cairns Field was one of the greatest ball parks and right across from Cairns Field, Gordie Howe's dad, that's where he lived in a little house Gordie bought his dad. I got thrown out there several times and had to get right out of the ball park. I'd go over and sit there on the front porch with Gordie Howe's dad, turn the radio on and listen to the game and we'd shoot the breeze."

(Photo courtesy Max Weder)

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