We Will Remember Them

With Rememberance Day approaching it’s a good time to pay tribute to those who gave their lives for our freedome.  Here is a list of Maritime ball players who made the ultimate sacrifice and died defending our country during both World Wars.

  1. Don Norton – Norton was an amateur pitcher and outfielder for the dynasty St. Croix team in his hometown of St. Stephen.  He played for the St. Croixs in 1938-39.  He would go on to Mt. Allison University, where he started in track & field.  After graduation, he would enlist as a Flying Officer in the Royal Canadian Air Force.  On June 8, 1944 he was shot down & killed in France.  Norton would receive the Canadian Cross.  He was inducted in the New Brunswick Sports Hall of Fame in 1970.
  2. Alexander “Sandy” Smith – Smith was an amateur third baseman from 1910 to 1912.  He was a member of his hometown Port Hood Royals.  The club was one of the best teams in Nova Scotia at the time.  Smith joined the war efforts before arriving in England as part of the 72nd Battalion, BC Regiment in 1917.  He was wounded in battle three times prior to being reward the Military Medal in April 1918.  He was promoted to corporal in August 1918.  On September 2, 1918 he was killed in action while serving in France.
  3. Alby Sumara – He was one of Nova Scotia’s top pitchers during the 1930s.  Sumara pitched for his hometown Springhill Fencebusters, plus  the Pugwash Maple Leafs and Kentville.  In June 1940 he enlisted with the North Nova Scotia Highlanders.  He left for Europe in 1941 and was killed on November 1, 1944 while serving in Belgium.  His war heroics lead him to being awarded the Canadian Cross.
  4. Charles Weatherby – He was a teammate of Norton’s with the St. Croixs in the late 1930s.  He was a first baseman in baseball before becoming a Warrant Officer in the RCAF.  On April 11, 1944 he was shot down while in France.  He was rewarded the Canadian Cross.

All information in this post in courtesy of Baseball’s Greatest Sacrifice.  The site lists and bios numerous baseball players (from amateur to the Majors) killed while serving their countries.

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Canadian Baseball Attendance, 2017

Canada

Here is my fourth annual look at baseball attendance across Canada.  Here I cover all levels from Minor League Baseball, independent baseball and collegiate summer leagues.

The figures are the average attendance per game.  An “opening” is a single admission to the ballpark, either it be a single game or a doubleheader.  I also mentioned if average attendance is up or down from last year.

  1. Vancouver Canadians, Northwest League (6303 / 38 openings) – up from 6177
  2. Winnipeg Goldeyes, American Association (5880 / 47 openings) – up from 4817
  3. Okotoks Dawgs, Western Major Baseball League (4104 / 23 openings) – up from 3329
  4. Quebec Capitales, Can-Am League (2838 / 50 openings) – up from 2773
  5. Ottawa Champions, Can-Am League (1971 / 47 openings) – down from 2454
  6. Victoria HabourCats, West Coast League (1899 / 27 openings) – down from 2239
  7. Trois-Rivieres Aigles, Can-Am League (1617 / 49 openings) – down from 1680
  8. Edmonton Prospects, Western Major Baseball League (1670 / 23 openings) – down from 1820
  9. Kelowna Falcons, West Coast League (1129 / 26 openings) – down from 1240
  10. Lethbridge Bulls, Western Major Baseball League (992 / 24 openings) – down from 1056
  11. Thunder Bay Border Cats, Northwoods League (762 / 35 openings) – down from 826
  12. Medicine Hat Mavericks, Western Major Baseball League (736 / 24 openings) – down from 888
  13. Fort McMurray Giants, Western Major Baseball League (618 / 23 openings) – down from 806
  14. Regina Red Sox, Western Major Baseball League (578 / 23 openings) – down from 643
  15. Swift Current 57s, Western Major Baseball League (469 / 23 openings) – up from 273
  16. Moose Jaw Miller Express, Western Major Baseball League (340 / 24 openings) – up from 302
  17. Weyburn Beavers, Western Major Baseball League (302 / 23 openings) – up from 265
  18. Brooks Bombers, Western Major Baseball League (271 / 24 openings) – down from 421
  19. Yorkton Cardinals, Western Major Baseball League (192 / 23 openings) – down from 242
  20. Melville Millionaires, Western Major Baseball League (126 / 23 openings) – up from 72

All data is from each league’s website.

Of the 20 high level baseball teams in Canada (not counting the Blue Jays), eight gained attendance from 2016.  The attendance for the other 12 went down.  Having said that, the top four each experienced an increase in attendance.

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A Call For Help

I enjoy putting together the historic posts for this blog.  I have done league history posts and single season posts for the 1937 & 1938 Colliery Leagues.  In future I will do the 1939 Colliery League, 1913 Maine – New Brunswick League and likely the 1890 New Brunswick League.

I am missing info on the Halifax & District League.  I would love to do season by season posts on this league but am missing key information to do so.  I need season by season standings, playoff results and league (or team) leaders.  Other information like rosters, stats, game results would also be helpful but not as necessary as the others.

If anyone knows where I can find this information (or they have it themselves) please reply to this post, Tweet me @maritimeproball or be old school and send me an email (maritimeproball@mail.com).

Thanks in advance.

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1938 Cape Breton Colliery League

The 1938 season was the second one in which the Colliery League was professional.  This season, the league tried to operate on a non-profit basis as the why to avoid the provincial amusement tax.  All profits were given to charities.  The previous year, the league’s teams paid a total of $5000 in the amusement tax (they all lost money).  Teams were in financial difficulty, the New Waterford team almost folded due to debts (mostly from transporting imports from the United States).  Both them and the Dominion Hawks were being perused by American ownership groups, both the teams remained in local hands.  To help ease the financial burden clubs wanted the provincial government to relax the Lord”s Day Act which banned Sunday baseball.  Many miners were only off on Sundays, making it the only day they could attend baseball games.

Prior the start of the season, the New Waterford Dodgers went on tour to play a series of exhibition games.  They defeated Calais Blue Sox 18-4, Moncton 10-1 & 6-0 and wrapped up the tour with a 13-0 victory over the Springhill Fencebusters.

The league’s opening day was on June 1 with a game in Sydney.  The same five clubs that competed in 1937 started the 1938 season.  On July 14, the Hawks folded due to financial problems.  There were concerns that the National Association would not accept a league with only four teams, but the Colliery League remained a member.  This forced the league to redo its schedule.  The new schedule ran from July 25 to September 3 and included an increase of two games per club.  On August 5, an All-Star Game was held, with Sydney/Sydney Mines beating New Waterford/Glace Bay 4-0.  There were also negotiations between the league and the Class C Canadian American League to hold a five game postseason series between the league champions.  This did not occur.  On August 11, Merle Settlemire of Sydney pitched a 1-0 12 inning no-hitter against Sydney Mines.  The final standings were tight, which lead to an increase in attendance, helping the teams’ financial issues.

Final Standings

                          W    L    PTC.   GB
Glace Bay Miners         30   21    .588    0
Sydney Steel Citians     27   25    .519   3.5
New Waterford Dodgers    28   26    .518   3.5
Sydney Miners Ramblers   25   27    .480   5.5
Dominion Hawks            4   15    .211    x

Playoffs-
New Waterford defeated Sydney 2 games to 0 in semifinals
Glace Bay defeated New Waterford 4 games to 1 in finals.

Managers
Dominion: Freddie Maguire
Glace Bay: Del Bissonette
New Waterford: Nick Morris
Sydney: Guido Panciera
Sydney Mines: Fred Loftus

This season, Bissonette had offers to manage the International League’s Montreal Royals and to scout for the Boston Braves.  He turned these offers down out of loyality to the Miners.

Achievements
Batting Champion – Ralph Bellrose, Glace Bay (.328)
Home Runs – Lester (Leslie?) Crabb, Glace Bay (6)
RBI – Lester Crabb, Glace Bay (41)
Runs – Gerald Kelly (Kiley?), New Waterford (41)
Hits – Gerald Kelly, New Waterford (63)

Wins – Merle Settlemire, Sydney (13)
ERA –
Strikeouts – Roy Moore, Glace Bay (107)

The league released figures regarding adult attendance (but not children’s attendance).  The league leaders in attendance was Sydney with 21,628 paid adult admissions.  They were followed by Glace Bay (19,986), New Waterford (17,759), Sydney Mines (14,408) & the folded Dominion franchise (4083).

Future Major Leaguers who played in the 1938 Colliery League are Del Bissonette (Glace Bay), Bill Chamberlain (Glace Bay) and Merle Settlemire (Sydney).

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An Update on Andrew Case

Andrew Case

Blue Jays prospect Andrew Case (courtesy JaysProspects.Com)

Saint John native Andrew Case is working his way up in the Blue Jays system this season.

Case spent the off-season playing in the Australian Baseball League with the Canberra Calvary.  He didn’t put up great numbers Down Under as he had an ERA of 7.13, 1-2 record and 15 strikeouts in 17.2 innings pitched.  The Calvary had five other Jays prospects on their team last season.

After Spring Training, he was assigned to the Jays’ High A affiliate the Dunedin Blue Jays in the Florida State League.  Case put up better numbers here (4.42 ERA, 3-1 record, 17 strikeouts and 4 saves in 18.1 innings).  This was the highest Case ever pitched in his professional career, as he spent most of the last two seasons with the Lansing Lugnuts of the Midwest League’s Lansing Lugnuts (Low A).

Six weeks into his season, Case was called up to the AA New Hampshire Fisher Cats of the Eastern League.  To date Case has an ERA of 2.02, 4-0 record, 4 strikeouts in 13.1 innings pitched.  In New Hampshire, his pitching coach is Halifax native (& former Blue Jay) Vince Horsman.  Horsman was his coach while in Lansing.  Growing up, Case would travel in Manchester as a member of the New Brunswick Selects and attend Fisher Cats games.  Manchester is a 6 hour, 10 minute drive from Saint John; making it the second closest professional team to the city (Portland Sea Dogs are the closest).

I wish the best of luck to Andrew in the future.  Hopefully we’ll see him with the Buffalo Bisons soon and eventually seeing him on the mound at the Rogers Centre in a Blue Jay uniform.

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Brown Street Field, Sydney Mines

BSP Sydney Mines

Google Street View imagine of Brown Street Park.

The Sydney Mines Ramblers of the Cape Breton Colliery League played at Brown Street Field.  The park is currently a softball field, located on Dwyer Street, just off of Brown Street.  The field was used throughout the 1930s as the team’s home.  The Ramblers were an amateur team in the early to mid 1930s before becoming professional in 1937.  A new press box was constructed when the team (& league) became professional.

The Ramblers qualified for the playoffs for the only time (professionally) in 1937.  They finished in second place and lost in the semifinals.  In 1938, the team installed a new scoreboard, which was donated by the Imperial Tobacco Company.  Lights were installed the following year.

On August 10, 1938 Brown Street Park hosted a no-hitter.  The no-hitter was thrown by Sydney’s Merle Settlemire against the Ramblers.  Settlemire and the Steel Citians won the game 1-0 in 12 innings.

The park hosted a unique doubleheader in July of 1939.  In game one, the Ramblers defeated Glace Bay in a regular season game.  In the nightcap, the Ramblers beat the touring House of David team, 8-1.  The Ramblers would finish the season in fourth (last) place.

BSP overhead

Overhead view of Brown Street Park.

If you look careful you can see the current outfield fence.  The grassy area behind the current fence used to be put of the baseball outfield (softball outfields are about 100 shorter than baseball).  There are also tennis courts in the old right field.  It’s fun to imagine that people playing ball on this field are playing on a former professional field; where former Major Leaguers once played on.

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What If: Maritime Summer Collegiate Baseball

Let’s say that tomorrow it was announced a group of investors started a summer collegiate league based in the Maritimes.  I will go over some scenarios on what such a league could look like.  Scenarios will range from Maritime only league to leagues that include teams from outside the region (Maine, Quebec & Newfoundland).  The non-Maritime markets would be needed as a way of expanding the league’s reach in terms of fans and recruiting players.

Potential scheduling matrixes can be found here.  Yes, I did include suggested nicknames for all teams.  Some are traditional names for said cities, others are “minor league style” names I came up with and others are just names that I felt fit the city.

Scenario 1 (Maritimes only):

East Division
Cape Breton Steelers
Charlottetown Monarchs
Pictou County Albions
Summerside Crystals

West Division
Dartmouth Arrows
Halifax Privateers
Moncton Monks
Yarmouth Gateways

North Division
Edmundston Eskimos
Fredericton River Bandits
Miramichi Maple Sox
Saint John Shamrocks

Getting past eight or so teams means some smaller markets will have to be included.  I tried to include all regions of the Maritimes by going with a 12 team model.  I could have easily gone with an eight team model by eliminating Yarmouth, Dartmouth, Summerside & Edmundston.  This would have put the New Brunswick teams in one division and Nova Scotia & P.E.I. teams in the other division.  As I have mentioned in the past, if you want a bigger league then non-Maritime markets would have to be considered.

Scenario 2 (including Maine):

Maine Division
Augusta Capitals
Bangor Fenians
Lewiston Twins
Old Orchard Beach Surge

Central Division
Fredericton River Bandits
Miramichi Maple Sox
Moncton Monks
Saint John Shamrocks

East Division
Cape Breton Steelers
Charlottetown Monarchs
Halifax Privateers
Pictou County Albions

This is the eight team Maritime only proposal mentioned above with four teams from Maine thrown in.  As of this writing neither Bangor, Augusta or Lewiston have high level baseball and Old Orchard Beach (near Portland) is being served by an upstart independent league.  If that league fails then that would open up The Ballpark to someone else (has hosted collegiate summer ball in the past).  If the Surge and the Empire League are successful then the fourth team would have to come from somewhere else (Portland area, Calais, Houlton, etc).

Scenario 3 (Newfoundland):
West Division
Charlottetown Monarchs
Fredericton River Bandits
Miramichi Maple Sox
Moncton Monks
Saint John Shamrocks

East Division
Cape Breton Steelers
Corner Brook Royals
Halifax Privateers
Pictou County Albions
St. John’s Cod Kissers

Again, this is the big eight Maritime teams with Newfoundland teams added in.  Due to travel concerns, two Newfoundland teams would have to be included.  The downside is there is a seven hour drive between St. John’s and Corner Brook.

Scenario 4 (Quebec):
North Division
Chicoutimi Cucumbers
Rimouski Hommes Riviere (Rivermen)
Riviere-du-Loup Loups (Wolves)
Thetford Mines Miners

West Division
Edmundston Eskimos
Fredericton River Bandits
Moncton Monks
Saint John Shamrocks

East Division
Cape Breton Steelers
Charlottetown Monarchs
Halifax Privateers
Pictou County Albions

Under this scenario, I added a division in eastern Quebec.  Visiting teams can stop in Edmundston on the way to/from la Belle Province.  I traded Miramichi for Edmundston in this scenario for this reason.  For the record, there are about 4,000 fewer people in Edmundston than in the Miramichi.

Scenario 5 (Maine & Newfoundland):
West Division
Augusta Capitals
Bangor Fenians
Lewiston Twins
Old Orchard Beach Surge

Central Division
Edmundston Eskimos
Fredericton River Bandits
Saint John Shamrocks
St. Croix Downeasters

North Division
Charlottetown Monarchs
Miramichi Maple Sox
Moncton Monks
Summerside Crystals

East Division
Cape Breton Stealers
Corner Brook Royals
Halifax Privateers
St. John’s Cod Kissers

This is likely the least fesiable of all scenarios as it involves both border crossings to Maine and ferry (or air) travel to Newfoundland.  But interesting to look at, nonetheless.

Scenario 6 (Maine & Quebec):
North Division
Chicoutimi Cucumbers
Rimouski Hommes de Riviere
Riviere-du-Loup Loups
Thetford Mines Miners

West Division
Augusta Capitals
Bangor Fenians
Lewiston Twins
Old Orchard Beach Surge

North Division
Fredericton River Bandits
Miramichi Maple Sox
Moncton Monks
Saint John Shamrocks

East Division
Cape Breton Stealers
Charlottetown Monarchs
Halifax Privateers
Pictou County Albions

This scenario is alright as it divides up the two non-Maritime areas in their own divisions.  Travel could be done with one Quebec trip and one Maine trip.  This may mean not playing everyone at home and away during the season (as is the case in the West Coast League).  For example, Halifax could travel to Rimouski, Chicoutimi, Bangor and Augusta and host the other Quebec and Maine teams while not hosting the teams they visited.  This would reduce travel (expenses!) and maximize regional rivalries.

Scenario 7 (Canada only):
North Division
Chicoutimi Cucumbers
Rimouski Hommes de Riviere
Riviere-du-Loup Loups
Thetford Mines Miners

West Division
Edmundston Eskimos
Fredericton River Bandits
Saint John Shamrocks
St. Croix Downeasters

South Division
Charlottetown Monarchs
Halifax Privateers
Miramichi Maple Sox
Moncton Monks

East Division
Cape Breton Steelers
Corner Brook Royals
Pictou County Albions
St. John’s Cod Kissers

This would eliminate the need of border crossings at the Maine border.  The downside is longer bus trips to both Quebec and Newfoundland.  The trips to/from Thetford Mines and St. John’s would be brutal (32 hours).  Obviously, there would be games on the way to and from such destinations.

Scenario 8 (everything):
North Division
Chicoutimi Cucumbers
Rimouski Hommes de Riviere
Riviere-du-Loup Loups
Thetford Mines Miners

West Division
Augusta Capitals
Bangor Fenians
Lewiston Twins
Old Orchard Beach Surge

Central Division
Charlottetown Monarchs
Fredericton River Bandits
Moncton Monks
Saint John Shamrocks

East Division
Cape Breton Steelers
Corner Brook Royals
Halifax Privateers
St. John’s Cod Kissers

This scenario (as advertised), has it all.  It contains the Maritimes, Quebec, Newfoundland and Maine, including the travel headaches that exists traveling between all the destinations.  Divisional play would likely be emphasised under such a scenario.  On the plus side, it is mostly larger markets.  Exceptions would be Riviere-du-Loup, Thetford Mines and Corner Brook.  These markets are needed (unless the Can-Am League folds then replace the smaller Quebec teams with Quebec and Trois-Rivieres).  Corner Brook is needed in order to have two Newfoundland teams.

There you have it, eight scenarios where a summer collegiate league based in & around the Maritimes could look.  These would be the target markers where I would consider placing teams under such scenarios.  These are by no means official as in the real world interest (from both fans & potential owners) could alter where franchises would be placed.  The only set in stone conclusion is that any Maritime based league would have to include the big six markets.  Summer college baseball provides high level baseball to many communities across North America, where professional baseball (both affiliated & independent) is no longer viable.  It may be the region’s best chance at high level ball.

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