News & Notes-1, Western Canada Baseball

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March 6, 2001                                                  

Red Star  Overwhelmed by material, I can't remember all the things I've updated in the last couple of weeks!  About fifty pages have been updated.

Red Star  Lil Lowe of Manitoba, the widow of Ian Lowe the former playing-manager of Brandon, has provided a solid foundation for coverage of the ManDak League with four scrapbooks (1948 to 1951). 

Red Star  A wonderful surprise from Mark Flynn, Winnipeg -- copies of the Carman programs from the early 50s. And from ManDak expert Barry Swanton in Vancouver, some critical material. 

Red Star  The 1950 ManDak section is looking pretty good with most of the game-by-game reports now in, along with a photo gallery and the final stats. There's also progress on most of the other ManDak pages too. 

Red Star   Bill Walasko of Calgary provided some more answers about Southern Alberta baseball (very impressive memory -- Bill identified almost all of his former teammates in the 1954 Carmangay picture).  Hope to have a Willie Walasko page up within the week. There's also another great photo of a Granum trio working at the Wesley ranch.  And, from Billings, Montana, a major surprise -- an e-mail from Charlie Beene, former pitcher with Saskatoon.  While I haven't yet been able to process the material for the site, there is some fascinating stuff, including pictures from 1951 and an offer from the manager of the Jacksonville Eagles (in those days called a "coloured touring team") for Beene (colour = white) to join the squad.  Len Breckner, Saskatoon, is rummaging through his basement for some material on baseball in Colonsay and Saskatoon. 

Red Star  Tim Novak, of the Saskatchewan Archives, has dug out some pictures from the Regina Leader-Post, 1956.  Check out the 1956 Photo Gallery for a few of your favourites from the Regina Braves

Red Star  Thanks to Mark Cameron for helping to identify the photos.  For some other web sites of interest, check the new LINKS page.  There are some really interesting places to visit. 

     Baseball in Granum

Red Star  Classic.  Granum players work out in the shadows of the grain elevators.  1955.  One of many lovely bits in material from Bill (Willie) Walasko of Calgary.  There's a few items scattered about the site already with more to come. There's even the clause from the 1958 baseball contract prohibiting "drinking or partying" for the entire baseball season!   I also discovered a 1956 letter from Howe News Bureau, Chicago, which did the stats for the Western Canada League.  They responded to my claim that some of their numbers were incorrect !

Red Star  As I begin to go through interview tapes and attempt to read my notes, a little bit of anecdotal material has begun to be scattered about the site including an explanation of why Jim Lester's introduction to Canada including suiting up with the wrong team!

I note the Fresno State Alumni dropped a 7-6 decision to the 2001 FSU Bulldogs over the weekend.  No report yet on the Old Timers' Alumni game.

Red Star  Many thank you cards due for material flowing in to Western Canada Baseball.  Dave Shury's books on Saskatchewan baseball and especially the Northern Saskatchewan League have been very helpful (even found out some of my old high school buddies, such as Bud Rendell played on the Lloydminster club in the early 60s).  Brack Bailey has sent along some nice stuff on Southern Alberta baseball in the late 50s. Art Olyslager, a one-time farmhand on the Wesley ranch, has sent a couple of lovely pictures of life at Bar 32 .  Have managed to track down Al Endriss (Medicine Hat 1951) and discover he not only played baseball, but football, in Canada.  Al is another of the Hall of Fame coaches who had roots in Western Canada.  Leola Brost of Lloydminster has forwarded, through the Lloydminster Centennial Project, some nice photos of Lloydminster players in the mid 50s.  Thank you all, the material is very much appreciated.

Red Star  First time the local library has failed me -- a Saskatchewan baseball book just never seemed to make it so Dave Shury came through with a copy from Battleford.  Wheat Province Diamonds is a gem, covering the baseball history of the province from the late 1800s on.  That and a companion book on the Northern Saskatchewan league ought to keep me busy for awhile!  And, still having a grand time reading through materials sent from Mark Flynn in Winnipeg.   Through Dave's books, I finally figured out the last two years of Curly Williams' career.  Turned out Lloydminster had a club (the Green Caps) in 1962 and 1963 in the Northern Saskatchewan loop. 

Red Star  Started some updates on the "major leaguers" pages along with updates on the photo galleries in 1950 and 1959.  

Red Star  Brack Bailey and Willie Walasko of the Southern Alberta leagues are working on some materials, as is Mark Cameron of the Western Canada League.  Ron Teasley in Detroit , is considering putting together some materials from the early days of the ManDak League and 

Greg Seastrom 1948Red Star  The web page format (as opposed to a book) is working exceedingly well -- allowing me to skip and jump all over the place without disturbing current information.  

Red Star  Ah, the wonders of the 'net -- you never know just what you'll discover.  This one -- Greg Seastrom, 1948 -- turned up on what I assume is the web site of a former classmate.

Red Star  My Toronto winter (more snow and colder than usual) is more bearable knowing the California Seastroms spent Christmas in Chicago !  Then again, Jack Altman enjoyed the holidays in Hawaii !

Red Star  A major update of the Players' List has been posted.  There are dozens and dozens of additional names since the last update (many from the ManDak League) along with revisions (thanks mainly to eagle-eyed Jack Altman).

The list is far from complete.  Even trying to determine correction spellings has been, at times difficult.  So far, there are about 2-thousand names listed.  Yes, some names appear more than once as I try and determine if there were two different players by the same name or the same player on two different teams.   If you notice errors or omissions, even minor ones,  please send me a note.  

Red Star  Wow.  A package of goodies from Mark Flynn in Winnipeg.  Just a treasure of information on baseball in Manitoba.  Thank you Mark!  (If you played ball in the province in the 50's you likely came across the Fort Whyte tournament team. Mark was a big part of that gang.)

The first ManDak photo galleries are up -- not a lot so far but hoping to expand that greatly in the months ahead.

The 1959 Southern Alberta report is just about complete, including the game-by-game reports.  The updated and revised 1959 pages are now on-line. 

There's also a smattering of updated material on the ManDak League and the 1953 Western Canada loop.

Red Star  Lots of little changes have been made throughout the site, including the elimination of many typos  (if you run across any errors or omissions in your site travels, please let me know).  

Red Star  Happy to have discovered a fascinating book on Negro League baseball -- Phil Dixon's The Negro Baseball Leagues -- A Photographic History.  In fact, I've redone the Negro Leagues section in anticipation of receiving permission to use some of the photos from the book.

Red Star  Also pleased to have made some contacts in Manitoba as I search for information on the ManDak League and the Manitoba-Saskatchewan League.   Gladwyn Scott and Mark Flynn have provided much good information.  And, Don Hillsendager, at the North Battleford Sports Museum and Hall of Fame, just might have a line on long-missing stats for the Western Canada LeagueWillie Walasko of Calgary had been kind enough to begin digging through his archives for missing information on Southern Alberta baseball. 

Looks to be a busy time in the New Year.

Updated :  December 09, 2000

Red Star  Almost missed an All-American -- both in football and baseball no less.  It's in the 1954 section, of which the Western Canada League information is just about complete.  Larry Isbell, manager of Moose Jaw Mallards in 1954 was an All-American quarterback and catcher at Baylor.  A first round draft pick of the Washington Redskins (finished 7th in the Heisman voting) he turned to baseball and began in AAA, but came back to football with the Regina Roughriders.

Lots of little bits added here and there along with a significant start on the ManDak League and the Manitoba-Saskatchewan League.  I've got a pile of material, but been slowed down a bit by shoulder/neck problems.  Might not be ready for Spring Training!

Red Star  Congratulations to Reg Chopp and the Bowsman Maroons -- to be inducted into the Manitoba Baseball Hall of Fame (ceremonies on June 9, 2001 in Neepawa).  In addition to his other sporting achievements, Chopp was a key member of the 1954 Moose Jaw Mallards of the Western Canada League. He batted .321 (5th best) and drove in 40 runs.  The Maroons were a powerful club in the late 40's and early 50's in both league and tournament play.  Arch Mullin a prominent force in getting recognition for Chopp and Bowsman.

Red Star  Greg Seastrom reports a good time had by all at the Fresno gathering which, among other things, celebrated the induction of Jim Garrett and Terry Banderas into the Hall of Fame.

Red Star  There's been a major update on the Rosters pages and several new pictures added here and there (Reg Chopp, Percy Trimont, Percy Howard, Leonard Pigg, and more).  The sitemap has been revamped to include plans for information on the Manitoba. Southern Saskatchewan and Basin Leagues. There's a new profile up too (not completed yet, but the basics are there) on Don Stewart, a Saskatchewan boy who just might have made the majors, but had a girl and a job waiting back in Canada.

Red Star  A start made on the Manitoba section with some bits added on the ManDak League (including the 1950 playoff report, game-by-game) and the Manitoba-Saskatchewan League (including the team picture of the 1953 Bowsman Maroons).  Thanks to Arch Mullin for keeping the posties busy with his packages from Winnipeg.  Lots of contacts made with folks who have information on semi-pro ball in Manitoba.  

Red Star  Also, my quest for information on South Dakota's Basin League has led to contact with Dave Kemp, a noted baseball researcher, who, it is hoped, can help me begin the process of adding some details on that loop.  Through Dave, I have learned of Phil Dixon's work, especially his research on the Negro Leagues.  Thank goodness my local library has a copy (at least they say they have a copy for me).  

Red Star  Thanks to Kathy Conn at the Lethbridge Library (for digging up a few tidbits from the Lethbridge Herald), the 1961 game-by-game section is pretty well complete -- including the story of the day Jim Lester tackled boss man George Wesley.  With a few minor omissions (the batteries for a few games) the section is ... in the books.

The more I go through the game-by-game reports the more I discover the newspapers were notorious for publishing incorrect standings.  The 1953 season, which included an interlocking schedule with the ManDak League, is proving quite troublesome.  Ah, one day perhaps I will get the wins and losses to add up!

Red Star  Recognition -- Gary Reed's baseball site chose Western Canada Baseball as the Site of the Week:

"I get a lot of questions from people about the history of the minor leagues. I found one that's a real gem. Jay-Dell Mah has put together an outstanding website dealing with baseball history in Western Canada. He's got team photos, rosters, stats and other info from western Canadian teams in the 1950s-1960s era. I can't even fathom how much work it took to round up all the stuff he's got here--check it out:"

Red Star  More news is on the way!  Arch Mullin of Winnipeg is sending material on the old Manitoba-Saskatchewan League.  Bill Guenthner of Hockessin, Delaware has sent information on the Minot Mallards of the ManDak League.  Mark Cameron of Fresno, California has helped out with information and pictures from the 1956 Regina club.  

Red Star  A former Western Canada star is to be on the agenda of a baseball conference in Tucson, AZ in March.  NINE, a "journal of baseball history and social policy perspectives", has accepted a proposal from Royse Parr and me for a presentation on Cliff Pemberton.  The 'ol Redhead passed away in September. Parr is the co-author of Glory days of summer: the history of baseball in Oklahoma and is soon to have another book out, this one on Allie Reynolds.  We'll work together on the piece (although Royse seems to have a bit of trouble as his -- American -- spell-checker seems to have hiccups with words, such as colour)!  Royse will be on hand to make the presentation in Tucson.  I suspect I'll be tied up with a (probable) move to British Columbia.

Red Star  Some overdue thanks to ... 

Bill Shubb, who has a lovely site on the old Oakland Oaks, was kind enough to let me use the Lou Tost photo ... Pat Lewis of Bismarck, ND has been in touch and is searching out materials on the old Southern Minny League ... Johnny Serpa made contact from Idaho looking for information on Lindy Serpa ...  Lyle Wilson of Mill Creek, WA is looking for material on the Harlem Clowns softball team (he found the reference here to their entry in Lloydminster's first tournament) ...  Thanks to Marlene Isnor for sending material on the famous Lacombe tournament ... Neill Sanders of Rochester, NY for items on Len Tucker ...  Don Biasotti for helping to identify players in the 1958 USC team photo ... Barry Swanton of Surrey, BC for his wonderful work on the ManDak League ... Terry Bertolino of the House of David project (the book's now out) ... Dennis Kelly for information on Tug McGraw ... Franklin Foster, of the Lloydminster Centennial project, for pictures and information from the old home town and the continuing assistance of former players, such as Roy Taylor, Jack Altman and Jim Lester who have been instrumental in the compilation of materials for the site.

Red Star  It took 39 years but the Lloydminster / Medicine Hat Meridians moved a half-game closer to the Saskatoon Commodores!  The final standings have been adjusted to reflect the 1961 game-by-game reports which are now posted.  The 1961 home page has been updated to include the new material (or, more precisely, the recently discovered, old material).  I believe the game reports are complete with the exception of one game (which I hope to track down some day).  

Along with the game-by-game reports for Western Canada League regular season, playoff and tournament matches there's the beginning of the summaries for the Northern Saskatchewan League and the 1961 rosters page.

There are also significant  updates of several other sections.

Jim GarrettTerry Banderas

Red Star  A grand day coming for Jim Garrett (left) and Terry Banderas (right).  The former Fresno and Western Canada stars are to be inducted into the Fresno State Hall of Fame, November 15th.  

Red Star  Finally, the reunion page is up after a struggle trying to salvage pictures from the Lethbridge gathering.  (I had used a video camera, rather than a still camera, for the reunion.  A mistake!  Most of the pictures turned out very dark but the acquisition of a new graphics editing program appears to have saved the day.)   I seem to have missed a few of the participants, but hope to overcome that soon by getting some of the still photos people took at the event.

Red Star  Lots of updates, especially of the Southern Alberta leagues and a bit on the ManDak League.  Pictures too.  

Red Star   Have incorporated a search engine (there's a link on the top of each page). And, just had to incorporate the grain elevators into a logo!  

Red Star  News from the Fresno guys of a proposal for a fund-raising campaign for a statue of legend Pete Beiden.  Tom Sommers is the contact.

Red Star  Lots of pictures added, including many from the Jack Altman Collection -- the one incorporated in the home page logo is a classic of the landmark grain elevators in Vulcan.  

Red Star  Tedd Bogal, catcher with Granum in 1955 and 1956 is still playing!  Ted, still in London, Ontario, admits it's now "huff and puff" leagues, but it's not only baseball but hockey!  Thanks to Ted for pictures and clippings from 1955 to 1957.

Red Star  Sad news from Oklahoma.  Cliff Pemberton passed away September 4th. The feisty, colourful redhead was a fixture in Western Canada from 1954 through 1961.  A three-time batting champion.  

Red Star   And, North Battleford baseball legend Les Dean passed away on August 21st. Les, along with brothers Elton and Roy, were fixtures with the Beavers from the mid 40s through the mid 50s. Les played through the 1957 season

 Lyle Olsen, Saskatoon manager in 1961, was a player, coach and manager for the Alaska Goldpanners from 1966 through 1970.  Olsen, who had a distinguished career as a college English teacher at San Diego State and Eastern Tennessee State, died earlier this year.

Red Star  Fascinating facts -- Dave Dowling, ace with the league champion Lethbridge White Sox in 1961, made a stop in Alaska before a brief major league stint.  Dowling pitched with the legendary Alaska Goldpanners in 1963 and had some eye-popping numbers.  He 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.

Red Star  A chance encounter (by phone) has resulted in a treasure chest of material from Lil McLean in Moose Jaw.  The widow of Joseph A. McLean (noted prairie lawyer who had his office around the corner from my dad's restaurant and, for decades, was a leading community figure in Lloydminster), Lil followed the Meridians from the beginning.  Thankfully, she documented the travails of our home club in scrap books.  

Red Star  Special thanks to Roy Taylor, Jack Altman, Jim Garrett, Chuck McGuigan (and wife, Jean), Jim Lester, Gord Wesley, Royse Paar, Tedd Bogal and Lil McLean for fabulous material!

Roberto Zayas
Red Star  Roberto Zayas
, veteran of the Western Canada Baseball League and the South Saskatchewan loop, was among the dignitaries involved in the Moose Jaw leg of the Legends of the Road tour. 

Right - Zayas in July, 2000 and (right) with the Lloydminster Meridians in 1954. (2000 photo from Moose Jaw Times-Herald, July 13, 2000; 1954 photo courtesy Lloydminster 2003, )

Red Star  Sad news from Fresno.  Pete Beiden passed away on March 6th..  He was 92.

Pete BeidenBeiden was a legend in US collegiate coaching ranks, directing the Fresno State Bulldogs for more than 20 years.  A collegiate Hall of Famer, Beiden was a key figure in the influx of college players to baseball on the prairies.  He and Roy Taylor brought the California Mohawks, a college team, on barnstorming trips to the prairies in the early 50s.  Both Beiden and Taylor would return to Canada as coaches bringing dozens of college players along the way. They also provided opportunities for Canadian kids to play ball at their California schools --  Fresno State and Sequoias. Dick Doepker, Dave Kostenuk, John Zeeben, and  Bob Holowaty were among the Saskatchewan kids to suit up with the California college teams.

Beiden retired as Fresno coach in 1969.  The Bulldogs' stadium is named after him.

His successor as head coach was Bob Bennett a catcher with Taylor's Kamsack and Saskatoon teams.  He's completed his 32nd season.

Red Star  In early June, friends and colleagues had a ball in marking the retirement of Art Shahzade from a celebrated career in education.

Red Star  And, Jim Lester reports the '59 Fresno reunion went very well (I keep adding names to the Fresno list -- a LOT of Fresno players suited up in Canada).  If we would have known at the time, we'd have called the prairies San Joaquin North.  It's even forced me to add a special section on Fresno.