Ed Stefureak     

Ed StefureakEd Stefureak

Born : September 7, 1933,  Died : August 9, 2010

Outfield/First Base/Pitcher
Batted : Right
Threw : Right
5'11", 185 lbs

1949-1956 Hairy Hill & Alberta teams
1957 :  North Battleford & Lloydminster of Western Canada League,  
            Weyburn of the Southern Saskatchewan League and
            Summerland of the Okanagan-Mainline League.
1958 :  Weyburn, SBL, Medicine Hat (Southern Alberta League),
            Willow River (Central BC Interior League)
1960-1966 Regina Red Sox, SBL
1967-1968, 1970 Yorkton, SBL
1969 :  Melville, SBL
1972 :  Edmonton, AMBL

Inducted into the Saskatchewan Baseball Hall of Fame, 2011

Stefureak was born in Vegreville, a town of a thousand or two at the time, a little under 100 km east of Edmonton on the Trans-Canada Highway.  The family farm and general store were in Hairy Hill about an hour's drive north.

Hairy HillAs a teenager, Stefureak played for his home team in tournaments around the province.  Mainly a pitcher in those days, at age 15 he was a key member of the local nine.

At age 16, was on the mound for Hairy Hill in the semi-finals of the $3,400 St. Paul Tournament.

The Edmonton Journal (July 3, 1950) reported he hurled a complete game nine-hitter, but five errors behind him ruined the effort.

Into his early 20s, he considered a career in baseball as he attracted the attention of a number of professional teams.  Family members recalled the excitement when the letters, emblazoned with team logos, arrived at the Stefureak home.  Anxiously, the family would gather as Ed opened the letters.  In 1953, he accepted an invitation (from the St. Louis Cardinals' organization) to attend a camp in Fresno, California and in 1957 attended a New York Giants camp in Florida.  He was offered a Class C contract but choose to return to Canada.

Former teammate Al Ash remembered Stefureak telling him during their car travels for road games that he had had a tryout with one of the minor league affiliates of the Brooklyn Dodgers but was never signed as a prospect.

The sudden death of his father in 1951 and a subsequent family move to Edmonton, found the young Stefureak more concerned with helping out at home than pursuing a baseball career.

The Saskatchewan connection took hold in 1957 as he gained the attention of teams in the fast Western Canada League.  After a few games with the North Battleford Beavers, whose American college players were delayed in arriving, Stefureak suited up with the Lloydminster Meridians just before a big series with the Eskimos in Edmonton. 

Stefureak had tried to win a job with Edmonton in 1957, but had been turned down on two occasions.

Stefurerak EdmontonIt was fitting then that the now power-hitting outfielder would make his mark against the Eskimos. 

Sunday, June 23, 1957, the Meridians were down 3-0 before they came to bat, but Stefureak's three-run homer in the bottom of the inning evened the count and Lloydminster went on to a 7-4 victory.

The next day, hitting in the coveted number three spot in the Lloydminster batting order, Stefureak belted a two-run homer in the 8th inning to give the Meridians a 6-4 win over the Esks. Earlier, he had blasted a double off the centre field wall.

Stefureak had shown up at an Eskimos' pre-season camp but the club had no vacancies.  He came calling again weeks later after injuries hurt the Eskimos, but Edmonton sent him away and Stefureak signed on with Lloydminster. That's Stefureak in the photo above being congratulated for his game-winning circuit clout.

In what appears to have been his first real test of high level ball, Stefureak passed with flying colours.  While he got into just 14 games, he hit .320 and knocked in 14 runs in those 14 contests.  He finished out the season playing for Weyburn in the South Saskatchewan League.

After a brief spin with the Weyburn Beavers in 1958 (hitting .545 in just a couple of games), and cameo appearances with Medicine Hat Superiors of the Southern Alberta League and Willow River in tournament ball in BC, Stefureak put baseball on the back burner for awhile as he concentrated on family and work. 

1959 was a busy year.  He was newly married (November, 1958) and the young couple were on the move from Edmonton to Regina. 

He had success from the beginning in his tenure in the Southern League. 

Big Stef, as he was affectionately referred by his teammates and opponents alike, thrived on the challenges of being the best and making a positive contribution for the club. (Harvey Johnson, Regina teammate).

In 1960, his first full season with the Regina Red Sox, Stefureak compiled a .362 batting average and clouted 9 homers, one behind
the leader, Gord Johnson of Swift Current.

He led the club to the pennant with a 23-9 won-lost record and put the icing on the cake with a playoff victory to claim the Southern League championship.  

"Big Ed" would be the league's top slugger during most of his time in the Queen City.

The big hit for the winners was a grand slam home run by right fielder Ed Stefureak in the second inning , when they scored 15 runs. (Regina Leader-Post, June 3, 1960)

Big Ed Stefureak collected three hits for Red Sox.  Included was his fifth home run of the season -- a two run blast in the ninth. (Regina Leader-Post, July 19, 1960)

TWO HOME RUNS - Stefureak collected four hits, two of them home runs, and drove in five runs for the Regina squad. (Regina Leader-Post, August 8, 1960)

Stefureak torrid start Torrid_2

His .270 average of 1961 (when he helped the Red Sox to another league pennant) was followed by his initial batting championship in 1962 .

On occasion, when we were facing one of the better pitchers in the league we'd challenge Ed with the suggestion: "I think the guy has your number today".  In more cases than not, Ed rose to the occasion to deliver some key hits just to prove us wrong. (Former teammate Harvey Johnson) 

Stefureak charged through the summer of '62 with a .390 mark and was selected as the league's Most Valuable Player as he led the circuit in average, home runs, 8, hits, 55, tied for the league in doubles, 8, and was the top defensive player with 257 putouts.  He had a lofty .617 slugging percentage.

First baseman Ed Stefureak of the Sox was the leading hitter in the two-game series, connecting for five safeties in six trips to the plate for three runs and five RBI.  He hit a double and home run in each game, his first circuit clout coming with a man on base. (Regina Leader-Post, July 6, 1962)

Ed Stefureak paced the Sox' 10-hit barrage with a home run, double and single for four RBI. (Regina Leader-Post July 23, 1962)

Ed Stefureak showed 900 Moose Jaw fans why he is rated one of the most powerful hitters ever to grace the Southern Baseball League by hitting two homers, one a grand slam, to pace Regina Red Sox to an 8-3 win over Moose Jaw Regals at Ross Wells Park on Monday night. (Regina Leader-Post, August 14, 1962) Top hitter

The 1962 Southern League pennant was the third straight for the Red Sox.

Again, "Big Ed" was among the batting leaders in 1963, with a .315 average, and tied Jerry Walker of Melville for the lead in home runs.

Unleashing an awesome display of power at the plate in the late innings, Satchel Paige's touring All-Stars thumped Regina Red Sox 12-7 . . .  The Red Sox had their licks too. Big Ed Stefureak caused most of the damage with a towering bases-loaded homer in the sixth. (Regina Leader-Post July 25, 1963)

Ed Stefureak led the Red Sox attack with a two-run homer, a double and single. (Regina Leader-Post August 5, 1963)

He captured his second batting crown in 1964 with a blistering .389 average and, with six homers, tied for the league lead.   The Red Sox topped Swift Current in the playoffs to reclaim the Southern League championship.

I didn't want to pitch to him with runners on base . . . You just couldn't sneak one past him on the inside corner.  (Dick Mandzuk, former Moose Jaw hurler)Wins title

It was Ed Stefureak's power that led the way. Stefureak had a tape-measure home run in the 5th plus a double and single. (Western Canada Baseball, June 3, 1964)

The Regina Red Sox captured top money at the annual Dominion Day tournament in Indian Head for the third year in a row. Ed Stefureak crashed three home runs and also pitched the Sox to a 9 - 5 victory over the Swift Current Indians in the final game before 1,500 fans. (Western Canada Baseball, July 1, 1964)

Big Ed Stefureak launched his 6th home run of the season for the Red Sox and added three singles. (Western Canada Baseball, July 12, 1964)

His .358 batting mark in 1965 was second to Ron McKechney of Swift Current and Stefureak helped the Red Sox to the playoff final.

Stefureak won the game for Sox in the first inning when he stroked a two-run homer that cleared the left field fence by inches . . . he followed up with two more doubles and a single and finished the night with four hits in five at bats. It took several foul shots before he was retired on a pop-up in his other trip to the plate. (Regina Leader-Post, September 3, 1965)

After a sub-par .258 average in 1966 when he got in just 31 at bats, Stefureak moved on to head up the new Yorkton entry in the Southern League.

At the league's 1967 pre-season annual meeting, Stefureak, the fence-busting veteran of seven years in the Regina Red Sox' fold, made a pitch to get Yorkton back into the league after a two-year absence. Stefureak, who had accepted the role of playing-manager of the Yorkton franchise, made an impassioned plea to heal the two-year-old wound that had been left festering following Yorkton's abrupt exit from the circuit in the form of totally ignoring the 1965 annual meeting. Then, the four returning clubs voted and Yorkton was unanimously accepted as the Southern League's fifth team. 

Stefureak had a sensational summer individually while he piloted the Cardinals to the Southern League championship.  He batted for a stunning .450 average in 1967 (a few points behind league leader Larry Bachiu) and again topped the loop in homers. Again, he was named Most Valuable Player.

Stefureak was the big hitter for Cardinals with the homer, a double and two singles in five trips to the plate. (Regina Leader-Post June 21, 1967)Stefureak pitch

Yorkton fans saw playing-manager Ed Stefureak, usually a first baseman, on the mound for Cardinals.  The former Regina Red Sox went the distance, posting the victory as Cardinals downed Melville Millionaires 4-2 with four runs in the bottom of the ninth inning. Stefureak fired a five-hitter, all singles, while striking out eight. (Regina Leader-Post, July 7, 1967)

Manager Ed Stefureak belted a solo homer to left centre field in the seventh inning to give Cardinals their narrow margin of victory over Millionaires . . . homer came just at the right time. The game was called at the end of the inning because of darkness. (Regina Leader Post July 12, 1967)

The 1967 Southern League champion Yorkton Cardinals were inducted into the Yorkton Sports Hall of Fame in 2007. 

Stefureak returned to head up the Yorkton franchise for the 1968 season.

Big Ed Stefureak led Cardinals at the plate with a double and single. (Regina Leader-Post May 29, 1968)

Yorkton cut the deficit to a single run when Ed Stefureak smacked a solo circuit blast in the fourth inning.  Cardinals tied the game in the sixth. Three back-to-back singles by Don Laube, Stefureak and Don Gelowitz filled the bases. Gord Johnson drove in Laube with a sacrifice fly. (Regina Leader-Post August 9, 1968)

After the 1968 season, Stefureak decided to hang 'em up. But, mid-way through the 1969 schedule a call from Gord Johnson of the Melville Millionaires enticed Ed to give it one more year.  A .339 batting average, fourth best in the league, convinced him he might have yet another summer of hits in the hickory.

Stefureak Red SoxEd Stefureak was the whole story for the Cardinals with two homers and a double. In the second game of the double-header Cards slammed 18 hits with Stefureak going four-for-five including five RBI. (Regina Leader-Post, August 3, 1970).

It was pretty well the same 'ol Ed in his final summer in the Southern circuit as he led the league in homers, with 7, even though he missed a major part of the schedule.

He was a 'do anything for you' type of guy. Very humble about his accomplishments on the diamond. (Former Regina Red Sox teammate Al Ash)

Moving back to Edmonton from Regina and getting re-established in his old home territory took much of the 1971 season, but he had a final fling in 1972 in the Alberta Major Baseball League with the Edmonton Blue Willow Angels and Edmonton Tigers.

Veteran infielder Ed Stefureak was the key figure for Edmonton, driving in five of the tallies with a 375-foot, two-run homer and a pair of singles. (Calgary Herald, June 5, 1972)

It was fitting that one of the last highlight mentions in the paper cited a homer and runs batted in. 

Saskatchewan Baseball Hall of Famer Wayne LeBere had high regard for the former Regina skipper :

When queried about the toughest hitter that he faced during his pitching career in the Southern League, Wayne was quick to respond that Ed Stefureak of the Regina Red Sox seemed to own him.  (Western Canada Baseball) 

He was a great teammate who provided some important leadership to a young and aggressive Red Sox ball club. (former Regina teammate Harvey Johnson)

"Big Ed" passed away August 9, 2010.  He was 76.  In 2011, at the Saskatchewan Baseball Hall of Fame in Battleford, son Ed Stefureak Jr. accepted the Hall of Fame plaque on behalf of his late father.