Blue Jays Night; January 12, 2012

 

Jays Mooseheads 2012

Pictured are Andre Bouvet-Morrisette, Brett Cecil, J.P. Arencibia, Roberto Alomar and Cameron Critchlow.  Eric Thames is behind Bouvet and Ace is behind Critchlow.

 

On the night of Thursday, January 12 the Mooseheads hosted some Blue Jays as part of the 2012 Winter Tour.  The three players (plus Alomar) who came signed autographs before the game and took part in the ceremonial faceoff prior the that night’s game against the Drummondville Voltigeurs.  This was an appropriate opponent for this night as voltigeur is French for outfielder (I don’t think this is what they had in mind when they named the Drummondville hockey club).

Since this night, Bouvet-Morrisette spent most of his time playing in the ECHL and is currently with the Sorel-Tracy Eperviets of the LNAH.  Eric Thames would split the 2012 season with the Blue Jays and Mariners.  He would hit 102 home runs in Korea from 2014-16 before resurfacing with the Brewers in 2017.  Brett Cecil would stay in Toronto until the end of the 2016 season before signing with the Cardinals.  J.P. Arencibia would stay with the Jays until the end of 2014.  He would play one season each with the Rangers and Rays before retiring.  Cameron Critchlow would spend the following five seasons with the UNB Varsity Reds.  He would spend the summer of 2017 playing for the Adelaide Adrenaline of Australia.  This winter he is with the Jacksonville Icemen of the ECHL.

For the record, the Mooseheads won this game 6-2 in front of 5880 fans.  Lots of familiar names for the Mooseheads made it to the score sheet that night.  Also worth mentioning a big snowstorm hit Halifax this night.

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Rheal Cormier, an Unlikely Major Leaguer

cormier

Considering his background, Rheal Cormier has to go down as one of the unlikely players to have played in the Majors in the last 30 years.

He came from a modest background.  His family wasn’t well off as he grew up in a shack.  Recently retired broadcaster Vin Scully was said of Cormier’s childhood, “from all accounts he grew up on a street with no name in nothing more than a shack. In winter it wasn’t uncommon to find snowflakes between the the beds”.  Lacking the funds for hockey equipment, he did have a baseball glove, which was his way of staying out of trouble in an area that was known for hard living.  But the Cap-Pele native watched Expos games growing up and had a dream of making it big.

Growing up in Cap-Pele he didn’t have much competition in town and had to drive to Moncton to play against the better competition.  The drive was 40 minutes each way but it helped his game playing against the better players the city had to offer.  He would later attend high school at Louis J. Robichaud in Moncton.  It was his high school years when he learnt to speak English.  He would have his first taste of international baseball in 1985 with the Junior National Team.  That year’s world junior championship was held in Albany, New York.

He would later be recruited by the Community College of Rhode Island.  During his two seasons with the Knights (1987 and 1988) he posted a 19-1 record.  The Knights would finsh third at the Junior College World Series.  While in college, Cormier would spend the 1987 summer as a member of Team Canada.  He pitched at the 1987 Pan-American Games in Indianapolis, where Canada finished in fourth place (lost bronze medal game to Puerto Rico 12-2).  That October, Cormier pitched at the Intercontinental Cup in Havana where he was the most successful non-Cuban pitcher at the event.  He would go 3-0 with a 0.57 ERA.  Canada, with both Cormier and Matt Stairs would finish 5th.

1988 was a great year for Mr. Cormier.  In the spring he was selected in the sixth round of the MLB Draft by the St. Louis Cardinals.  That summer, he returned to Team Canada and was on the roster for the Olympics in Soeul, South Korea.  Baseball was a demonstration sport that year, before becoming a full fledged medal sport four years later.  Canada would finish 1-2, but the lone victory came against the eventual gold medalist, Team USA.  Cormier also pitched in the 1988 Baseball World Cup in Italy.  Canada would finish 7-4, good for fifth place.  Cormier would finish the tournament with a 1-1 record, 5.71 ERA and 22 strikeouts.

Cormier would spent the next three seasons working his way up through the Cardinals minor league system.  He would spent the entire 1989 season with the St. Petersburg Cardinals of the Florida State League.  He would finish the season with a 12-7 record and 2.23 ERA.  The 1990 baseball season was split between the Texas League Arkansas Travelers and American Association Louisville Redbirds.  He struggled at AA Arkansas (5-12, 5.04) but appeared in four games at AAA Louisville where he did not look out of place.  Cormier would start the 1991 season back in Louisville, where he would compile a 7-9 record and 4.23 ERA.  On August 15 of that season, Acadien Day, Cormier would make his Major League debut for the Cardinals against the Mets.

Cormier would go on to play 16 seasons in the big leagues.  He would pitch for the Cardinals (1991-94), Red Sox (1995, 1999-2000), Expos (1996-97), Phillies (2001-06), and Reds (2006-07).  He missed the 1998 season due to injury when he was Indians property.  Cormier would pitch in 683 games in his career, starting 108 of them.  In other words, he was used mostly as a relief pitcher (575 to be precise).  In fact, Cormier is the main image on the Wikipedia page for relief pitcher.  He would pitch in the postseason twice, in 1995 and 1999, both seasons with the Boston Red Sox.  He would depart Philadelphia a couple seasons before the 2008 World championship.

Cormier would finish his career as a member of the 2008 Canadian Olympic team.  He would warm up for his Olympic experience by playing for the Moncton Mets of the New Brunswick Senior League.  He sold his home in Park City, Utah in 2015.  Cormier is a member of both the Canadian Baseball and New Brunswick Sports halls of fame.

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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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