1957 Western Canada Snapshots     

Scouts     Scouting ball in Canada

The league drew the attention of the major league scouts.  Left - Herman Franks of the New York Giants meets with Edmonton general manager John Ducey and field boss Wayne Tucker(Edmonton Journal, August 27, 1957) The trio at the right -- Phil Gailivan of Baltimore Orioles, Chuck Koney of Boston Red Sox and Frank Fahey of Milwaukee Braves -- took in a series in Saskatoon. (Saskatoon Star Phoenix, August 14, 1957)

Louis Green


North Battleford catcher Louis Green says goodbye to the players and fans following his release by the Beavers in mid-July. 

Green, who had joined the club in 1951,  was with his seventh season with the team.  He was one of North Battleford's most popular players.  He moved on to play a few games with Lloydminster before rejoining the Beavers for the last part of the season in his farewell season.  

Don Grant (right), the chairman of the board of directors, was part of the ceremony. Green was one of many who first came to the prairies with the Indian Head Rockets.


Riot headline

Johnny Ford & police

Emile Francis & police

Wild night, riot at Renfrew. Emile Francis (above tosses the bats, Johnny Ford gets a police escort. Andy O'Brien, writing for a national audience, called the Beavers "The West's Wildest and Wooliest". 

"The last time I had seen Emile "The Cat" Francis he was stopping great masses of rubber in the nets of the New York Rangers. That was in 1952 and he had a reputation as the scrappiest 145-pound package of goalkeeper who had ever played in the National Hockey League. 

But now, seated in my room at the Macdonald Hotel in Edmonton, "The Cat" seemed to have acquired new poise--even dignity. Which mien, I dared to suggest, could be prompted by his position as manager of the North Battleford Beavers, yet conflicted somewhat with the Beavers' reputation as the wildest and woolliest aggregation in all the riot-ridden records of the turbulent Western Canada Baseball League. "Those days are in the past," said Francis, rather testily. "The roughneck era in the W.C.B.L. has given way to fast, clean baseball strictly supervised by better umpires." 

That night, the night of last June 12 to be exact, I attended one of these "new look" games at Renfrew Park. Beavers were playing the home Edmonton Eskimos, baseball edition. I'm glad I got there early because Emile was given the heave by one of the "better" umpires in the third inning. Emile had then chucked an armful of bats in the ump's direction and wrestled with two cops summoned to the field. Johnny Ford, Beaver right fielder, had rushed to his pilot's aid and belted a cop to the ground. An Edmonton police sergeant entered the dugout and suggested an apology. The Beavers said going back to North Battleford after apologizing to a cop or an ump was unthinkable. Besides, at that time Beavers were trailing 7-0. 

The paddy wagon was already on its way to collect two box-seat patrons who had started a private war. But when the cops arrived the guys were pals again so the sarge formed a spearhead of six cops who marched on the Beaver dugout and we watched Ford go by en route to the jailhouse, where he was formally charged with "assault and obstructing." 

Gerst beanedIn the eighth inning the Esk third sacker, Bob Gerst, was beaned and carried off to hospital on a stretcher. In the ninth with the score now tied at 9-9, Esk left fielder Don Stewart suffered a badly fractured ankle in getting back to first on a sizzling pick-off play attempt. He too was toted to hospital. Beavers won in the 10th, 12-9. Also ready for the stretcher-bearers were the press boys keeping score. Besides the fireworks, the game had seen 23 players, 21 runs, 24 hits, 10 errors.

In court, Ford, an American, was fined $50. Manager Francis stormed: "That umpire (Rollan Natter, a McGowan School for Umpires grad) is a dud. There's no room in this league for both of us." (Edmonton Journal, June 13, 1957)

(Ford says he didn't really belt a policeman, " ... I choked him and threw him to the ground.  It was Kenny Nelson who was walking over him with his cleats."  Ford says he actually got to play another couple of innings before the police reinforcements arrived and took him away.)  

In a 1953 game,  North Battleford's Roy Dean, upset at a third strike call, threw umpire Ron French to the ground, punched him several times and ripped his clothing. Dean was ejected. The umpire finished the game.

1957 SNAPSHOTS page three >>>