1961 Snapshots     

     Edmonton trio






Left :  A trio of Edmonton Eskimos prepare for the opening of the 1961 season -- right fielder Casey Jones (left), centre fielder Ed Beard (centre) and third baseman Ray Barboza (right).  

Bob Milano


Right :  Lloydminster catcher Bob Milano at Sportsman's Park at Lloydminster.


First baseman John Boccabella of the Saskatoon Commodores goes high to try to nab an errand throw as Jim Garrett of Lethbridge White Sox gallops down the line to reach base safely. Saskatoon won the June 13th game 3-2. [Saskatchewan Archives Board, S-SP-B 16672]

Opening night     Righty-Lefty combo

Left : Opening night at Edmonton.  The managers, Cliff Pemberton (pointing) and Clark Rex (right) with umpires John Mason, Tom Foran and John Lupul (between the two managers).

Right : Edmonton's Ted Neal (left) and Larry Craig (right). 

Season opener in EdmontonDave DowlingCurt Barclay

Above left - Baseball was still a big deal on the prairies in 1961.  Here, the Alberta Lieutenant-Governor J. Percy Page throws out the ceremonial first pitch of the 1961 season as Edmonton Eskimos hosted the Lloydminster Meridians at Renfrew Park.  On the left, Lloydminster playing-manager Cliff Pemberton

Above centre -  Two years after his appearance with the Lethbridge White Sox, Dave Dowling had an incredible season with the famed Alaska Goldpanners.  During the season, Dowling went 11-3 and set team records for his 0.85 ERA, seven complete games and 217 strikeouts in just 116 innings. In one game, he fanned 16 straight and 24 in total.  He had two other games where he fanned 22.  He had a stretch of 36 scoreless innings.  Dowling was the pitching star at the 1963 NBC Championships where he was named to the All-American team and chosen as the top pitcher in the tournament.

Above right -  former major leaguer Curt Barclay (one of the Medicine Hat /California Mohawks of the WCBL of 1951) brought his Missoula Highlanders to the Lethbridge Rotary Tournament.

Tuggle miss

Levingston slide


Saskatoon catcher Gale Tuggle fails in an attempt to push a bunt down the line. The ball skips to Lethbridge backstop Jim Garrett with umpire Johnny Lupul keeping a close eye on the action.



Saskatoon's Bob Livingston slides too late to avoid a tag from Edmonton third baseman Ed Beard in the final game of the Western Canada League tournament at Renfrew Park. Commodores won easily, 13-5 over the Eskimos.

Spero Leakos awardLyle Olsen, Spero Leakos

Left - Saskatoon owner Spero Leakos (left) and his dad Steve were honoured August 13th at Cairns Field. Sid Buckwold (right), the Saskatoon mayor presents Spero with the City Certificate of Merit. [Saskatchewan Archives Board, S-SP-B 16794]  Right - Spero Leakos (right) welcomes Lyle Olsen to the fold. Leakos, the owner of the Saskatoon Commodores, signed the former professional infielder as the playing manager of the club.  Olsen would not only lead the Commodores to a first place finish during the regular season (a romp, 15 1/2 games up on the second place team) but would win the batting championship on a team which took all but one position on the all-star team and would send five players to the major leagues. 

Darrell SutherlandDan Schneider


Left - From Stanford, right-hander Darrell Sutherland pitched for Saskatoon Commodores.

Right - Lefthander Dan Schneider, from Arizona State University,  was one of the Commodores' top recruits.  He finished at 8-1 with a league-leading 2.19 ERA.

Both would go on to pitch in the major leagues.

John RebeloRebelo a star  

Lloydminster's John Rebelo was coming off an outstanding season with the University of California Bears. Rebelo, 9-0, was selected as the MVP of the team and later was selected as an All-American. 

Jauergui & Mousalam

A pair of Lloydminster/Medicine Hat Meridians. Left - pitcher Mike Jauergui. Right - first sacker Faldo "Mick" Mousalam. The Meridians were in Lethbridge for the Rotary Ball Tournament at Exhibition Park. [Photo courtesy of the Galt Museum and Archives, Photo # 19753802101]

Calgary trio

Infielder Herb Goodwin (left) and pitcher Al Dyck (right) give Bill Fennessey (centre) a lift as he packs equipment over his shoulder for a jaunt to Lacombe for the annual Lacombe Tournament.

Dowling & Tucker




VICTORY SMILES - Obviously content with Lethbridge's 2-1 victory over the Eskimos at Renfrew last night are Dave Dowling, who gave up just one hit, and Len Tucker, the WCBL's home run champion.

The league has made no formal annoucement as yet, but apparently Tucker has been ruled eligible to finish out the season with the White Sox.

(Edmonton Journal, August 9, 1961)


Johnson & Shaves




Edmonton pitchers Jimmy Johnson (left) the southpaw and Dennis Shaves (right) the right-hander ponder their manager's choice for the Eskimos rotation against the Lethbridge White Sox as the clubs begin a two-game series at Renfrew Park.

Roger Tomlinson Arizona StateRoger TomlinsonRoger Tomlinson, shortstop with Edmonton Eskimos in 1958 and Regina the following season, was among the Arizona State University stars to play in Western Canada.  In March, 2001, Tomlinson, with one of the wackiest homers in ASU history,  was featured in the ASU Booster Club Newsletter.

Roger Tomlinson played shortstop for the ’60 and ’61 Sun Devil nine and was elected as co-captain for the 1961 squad. He was also selected team MVP for the ‘61 season after leading the team in batting with a .342 average. In addition, Roger belted 10 home runs, 56 RBIs, 65 hits, and scored 54 runs. 

Roger and his wife Mary Sue have four grown children, Mike, Bruce, Gary and Stacy. 

After obtaining his degree in 1961, Roger signed with the San Francisco Giants and played in their minor league organization for a few years. He put his education and baseball experience to use, as he became a high school teacher and baseball coach and later went back to ASU to obtain his master’s degree. He taught in Utah for one year, Arizona for five years, and ended up at Sweetwater Union High School district in San Diego for the next thirty years. 

Now retired, Roger fills his time with golf, jogging and working out. He loves to travel, has done quite a bit already, and plans to do more in the future. He still follows ASU sports and remains a big fan.  - Jim Brink

From the Wednesday, May 10, 1961, edition of the State Press: 

The Sun Devils made a gallant bid for a split in their four game series with the Cats, taking the first game of Saturday’s double header in Phoenix Municipal Stadium and losing a squeaker at night. After the Devils’ booming bats pounded out a 12-10 win in the wind-blown opener, the Cats tightened things up and grabbed a 3-1 verdict in the second contest. In the afternoon contest Saturday the Sun Devils showed a complete reversal of the form they displayed in Tucson a week earlier. Long ball hitting by Mario Ramirez and Roger Tomlinson and clutch relief pitching from Roger Barnson and Sam Cook played key roles in the A-state win. Ramirez and Tomlinson each blasted a pair of home runs and Tomlinson added a triple to provide the backbone of ASU’s offensive attack. 

So You Think You Know Baseball? 

Having lost a double header to the U of A earlier in the season, the nationally ranked #6 Sun Devil nine were anxious to get revenge. Roger Tomlinson, as the teams’ leading hitter, in particular, wanted to right the earlier wrongs. 

In his first at bat of the days’ double header, Roger was fooled by a two strike pitch and took a booming swing at a ball that bounced two feet in front of the plate. To everyone in Municipal Stadium’s amazement, Roger rips the ball over the left field fence for a home run. To no one’s surprise, Frank Sancet comes running out of the Cats dugout protesting that the pitch was illegal and that Tomlinson actually was struck out. 

What was the umpire’s ruling? 

It is a home run. Per the NCAA, 2001 rule book, section 5, “A Ball, A.R. (Approved Ruling) – If a pitched ball strikes the ground in front of the batter and the batter swings at it, the ball is in play if hit and a strike if missed. 

Let’s carry the preceding scenario a few steps further. 

Suppose (1) Roger, with two strikes on him had not swung and the ball bounced through the strike zone? Or (2) the ball bounced and struck Roger? Or (3) Roger swung and missed the bouncing ball? 

(1) – It would be a ball. (2) – Roger would be awarded first base. (3) – The catcher’s simply fielding the ball cleanly would not constitute an out. The batter must tagged as on any dropped third strike, or he must be thrown out at first base unless first base is occupied before two are out.

Griggs, 1961Bennie Griggs, long time Western Canada stalwart, took a fling at pro ball beginning in 1959 when he went 21-7 and was an All-Star with the Wellsville Braves of the New York-Penn League. By this time Griggs, who first suited up in Canada in 1950, was 31. He finished 8-10 the following season in moving up to Jacksonville of the South Atlantic League.  

On May 27, 1961 Griggs tossed a no-hitter for 9 2/3s but came away a loser as he lost the no-hit bid in the 10th on a single by the opposing pitcher and lost the ball game in the 12th. The story from the Jacksonville Times-Union :

Jacksonville righthander Ben Griggs pitched nine and two-thirds innings of no-hit, no-run ball against Greenville in the scheduled seven-inning opener of a double-header last night -- only to lose, 1-0, in the 12th when opposing pitcher Mel McGavock singled home the winning run.

McGavock, who also went the route in the season's finest pitching duel here, had spoiled Griggs' no-hitter with two out in the tenth by beating out an infield hit to the third base side of the mound.

In the Greenville 12th, Art Burnett opened with a walk, and was sacrificed to second by Wendell Hall.  After John Werhas bounced to third for the second out, McGavock popped a single to left, scoring Burnett with the winning run.  Gary Smith, next up, singled up the middle for the Spinners' third and final hit of the game.

All told, Griggs struck out 13 batters and walked six.  He fanned six in the first two innings en route to his first defeat of the year after two wins. 

McGavock was tagged for 11 hits, including four singles by Dale Bennetch and doubles by Bill Rittman and Joe Wooten.  He fanned four and walked three in notching his seventh win against two loses. 

The Jets had ample opportunities to win, the best one being in the bottom of the tenth, when, with two on, Walt Matthews smashed a 410-foot fly to centerfield, Dick Smith hauling it down at the base of the scoreboard.