Here is my fifth 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 mention if average attendance is up or down from last year.
- Vancouver Canadians, Northwest League (6292 / 38 openings), down from 6303
- Winnipeg Goldeyes, American Association (4477 / 49 openings), down from 5880
- Okotoks Dawgs, Western Major Baseball League (3676 / 22 openings), down from 4104
- Quebec Capitales, Can-Am League (2386 / 53 openings), down from 2838
- Victoria HarbourCats, West Coast League (2318 / 27 openings), up from 1899
- Edmonton Prospects, Western Major Baseball League (2053 / 22 openings), up from 1670
- Trois-Rivieres Aigles, Can-Am League (1869 / 49 openings), up from 1617
- Ottawa Champions, Can-Am League (1831 / 51 openings), down from 1971
- Kelowna Falcons, West Coast League (1025 / 27 openings), down from 1129
- Lethbridge Bulls, Western Major Baseball League (1022 / 24 openings), up from 992
- Medicine Hat Mavericks, Western Major Baseball League (900 / 24 openings), up from 736
- Thunder Bay Border Cats, Northwoods League (823 / 35 openings), up from 762
- Regina Red Sox, Western Major Baseball League (732 / 22 openings), up from 578
- Fort McMurray Giants, Western Major Baseball League (578 / 24 openings), down from 618
- Swift Current 57s, Western Major Baseball League (390 / 24 openings), down from 469
- Moose Jaw Miller Express, Western Major Baseball League (351 / 23 openings), up from 340
- Weyburn Beavers, Western Major Baseball League (299 / 24 openings), down from 302
- Yorkton Cardinals, Western Major Baseball League (184 / 22 openings), down from 192
- Brooks Bombers, Western Major Baseball League (181 / 24 openings), down from 271
- Melville Millionaires, Western Major Baseball League (124 / 23 openings), down from 126
The Intercounty League has data on only two clubs. The London Majors averaged 1324 over 18 dates and the Hamilton Cardinals averaged 187 over 18 dates.
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 (nobody had the exact same attendance). The top four teams all experienced decreases in attendance from 2017.
Next season, the WMBL will change its name to the Western Canadian Baseball League. Also, Brandon will join the Expedition League (summer college).
The Dalhousie Tigers won the 1996 Canadian Intercollegiate Baseball Association title. I have archived all the game results from the 1996 season that I could find from various news archives. I only included Tigers games for the regular season, but included all results for both the regional and national tournaments. This was the second ever national championship for university baseball in Canada. The sport was (and still is) only played at the club level in this country (no varsity programs).
Regular Season (partial)
- September 12 – Acadia Axemen 8, Dalhousie Tigers 7 (Memorial Park, Kentville)
- September 29 – Dalhousie Tigers 13, Saint Mary’s Huskies 7 (Hantsport)
- September 29 – Dalhousie Tigers 2, Saint Mary’s Huskies 1 (Hantsport)
- October 4 – Dalhousie Tigers 6, Acadia Axemen 4 (Beazley Field, Dartmouth) – Dal was 6-4 after this game (1/2 game up on the Huskies)
- October 7 – Dalhousie Tigers 8, Saint Mary’s Huskies 4 (Beazley Field, Dartmouth) – the teams were tied for first after this game
- October 8 – Dalhousie Tigers 6, Saint Mary’s Huskies 5 (Beazley Field, Dartmouth) – Tigers clinch the Atlantic pennant
Final Standings: Dalhousie (8-4), Saint Mary’s (7-5), Acadia (3-9)
Atlantic Championships (Memorial Park, Kentville)
- October 11 – Saint Mary’s Huskies 5, Acadia Axemen 4 (14 innings)
- October 12 – Dalhousie Tigers 8, Acadia Axemen 7
- October 12 – Dalhousie Tigers 14, Saint Mary’s Huskies 8
- October 12 – Acadia Axemen 14, Saint Mary’s Huskies 7
- October 12 – Dalhousie Tigers 4, Saint Mary’s Huskies 1
- October 13 – Dalhousie Tigers 3, Acadia Axemen 2
Final Standings: Dalhousie (4-0), Acadia (1-3), Saint Mary’s (1-3)
MVP: Craig Higgins (shortstop), Dalhousie (batted .600)
Nationals (St. Catherines, Ontario)
- October 25 – Dalhousie Tigers 4, Laval Rouge et Or 3
- October 25 – Toronto Varsity Blues vs. Brock Badgers
- October 26 – Dalhousie Tigers 11, Toronto Varsity Blues 0
- October 26 – Brock Badgers 7, Dalhousie Tigers 0
- October 26 – Toronto Varsity Blues 3, Laval Rouge et Or 1
- October 26 – Brock Badgers 2, Laval Rouge et Or1
- October 27 – Dalhousie 8, Brock 3 (Championship Game)
Tigers go 3-1 at nationals to claim the Canadian Intercollegiate Baseball Association championship. Tournament MVP went to Craig Higgins (went 6 for 14) and Trevor Wamback was named top pitcher. The team was coached by Cecil Wright. Other team members included long-time senior standout Jason Irvine and catcher Craig Cooper. Wamback would go on to be drafted by the Montreal Expos in the 22nd round of the 1998 MLB draft.
Tripleheaders are rare at the Major League level. In fact the last one in MLB was played 98 years ago on October 2, 1920 when the Cincinnati Reds beat the Pittsburgh Pirates two games to one. They are not completely unheard of in local baseball circles due to our short baseball seasons leading to little time to play makeup games, especially when teams from Yarmouth and Sydney are involved. Looking through the archives of local papers, I have found 11 such tripleheaders between the senior and university levels since 1992. Here is a short summary of them.
- August 2, 1992: Sydney Sooners at Yarmouth Gateway Blues (Veteran’s Field). The visiting Sooners started the day how winning the first two games by 12-7 & 7-0 scores. The hometown Gateways salvaged the tripleheader with a 4-2 win in the nightcap.
- June 4, 1995: Sackville Chiefs at Yarmouth Red Knights (Veteran’s Field). After a doubleheader rainout, the Chiefs played Yarmouth three times in one day. Yarmouth took the opener, 6-4 while Sackville won game two 5-1. The Red Knights won the nightcap 9-1 to win the tripleheader. [The Daily News]
- July 12, 1998: Sydney Sooners @ Halifax Pelham Electric Blues (Wanderers Grounds). After having a doubleheader rained out the previous day, the Blues defeated the Sooners two games to one in a tripleheader. The opening pitch was thrown at 11:30 am, with the last out recorded at 8:50 pm. The Blues took game one 9-2. The Sooners got revenge in game two with a 10-3 victory. But the Blues took the rubber match 9-2. Jim McEachern, the long time Sooners coach pitched in game one an inning to give his pitchers some rest. [The Daily News]
- August 20, 2000: Halifax Pelham Electric Blues @ Sydney Sooners (Susan McEachern Memorial Ball Park). The hometown team beat the visitors from Halifax two times in this tripleheader (doubleheader the previous day was rained out). The Blues took game one 13-2 but lost the last two 9-2 & 8-4. Richie Walcott hit two home runs for the Sooners this day. [Cape Breton Post]
- May 20, 2001: Sydney Sooners @ Yarmouth Gateways (Veteran’s Field). The Gateways took two out of three from the homestanding Sooners after the previous day’s doubleheader was postponed due to rain. All games were decided by one run with Sydney winning the opener 2-1 but Yarmouth followed up with 1-0 & 2-1 victories in games two & three. [Cape Breton Post]
- September 19, 2004: Dalhousie Tigers @ UNB Cougars (Royals Field). The clubs were to play two doubleheaders this weekend but wet weather forced them to play only three games, a tripleheader on Sunday afternoon. The hometown Cougars swept the Tigers by scores of 6-4, 5-2 & 11-10. [The Daily Gleaner]
- July 24, 2005: Dartmouth Moosehead Dry @ Sydney Sooners (Susan McEachern Memorial Ball Park). The Sooners took two out of three against the defending national champions. This tripleheader was played after the previous day’s doubleheader was rained out. The Sooners took the first game 6-5. Dartmouth came back in game two with a 7-6 win. Then Sydney took the nightcap 9-8 in eight innings (all games were scheduled for seven). Brad MacLean hit a sac fly in the bottom of the eight in game three to win it for Sydney. Not surprisingly, Darren Douccette, Jamie Vallis & Joel Irvine all hit home runs for the Dry. [The Chronicle Herald]
- August 19, 2007: Sydney Sooners @ Halifax Canadians (Mainland Common). The hometown Canadians swept the visitors from Cape Breton by scores of 9-0, 9-2 & 5-2. Ryan MacInnis pitched the first 12 innings for Halifax & picked up two wins. Ryan Veinot had a total of five hits on the day. The tripleheader was made necessary after the previous days doubleheader was rained out. [Halifax Daily News]
- September 23, 2007: UNB Cougars @ St. FX X-Men (Albion Field). The third game was actually a UNB “home” game to makeup a rain out from the previous weekend in Fredericton. Results not available. [The Evening News, New Glasgow]
- September 14, 2008: St. FX X-Men @ Cape Breton Capers (Susan McEachern Memorial Ball Park. Results not available. [Cape Breton Post]
- October 16, 2011: Dalhousie Tigers @ Cape Breton Capers (Susan McEachern Memorial Ball Park). The Tigers and Capers played their entire best of three CIBA Atlantic Conference championship series in one day. The Capers took the first game 7-0 with Justin Brewer pitching the complete game shutout. Game two went to the Tigers 10-8. Cape Breton won the nightcap 10-2 with Josh Spooney hitting two singles and a two run home run. The wins advanced the Capers to the 2011 nationals that were held in Moncton. [Cape Breton Post]
Here are the game results of the Nova Scotia Clippers (Canadian Soccer League, 1991). The franchise was rewarded in April 1989, played their first game two years later. The Clippers’ training camp opened April 22 at Cole Harbour Place. The club spent some of early to mid-May at the Nova Scotia Agricultural College in Bible Hill before returning to Halifax/Dartmouth. All regular season home games were played at Beazley Field in Dartmouth.
The team’s main sponsors were Ultramar Canada, Simpson-Hurst Limited and Alexander Keith’s Breweries. Included information is the date, opponent, result, Clipper goals & attendance (when available). All information is via the Halifax Daily News.
- April 29 – @ University of Maine, 4-0 victory [goals by George Kyreakakos (2), Peter MacIntosh & Stuart Galloway]
- May 14 – vs. Truro Selects, 6-0 victory [at NSAC in Bible Hill]
- May 15 – vs. Dartmouth United Moosehead, 3-0 [goals by Dino Lopez, George Kyreakakos & Dennis Larsen, attendance of 100 at NSAC in Bible Hill]
- May 16 – vs. Cole Harbour Soccer Pro, 1-0 defeat [attendance 100 at NSAC in Bible Hill]
- May 19 – vs. Nova Scotia Selects, 2-0 victory [goals by Tony Pigniatello & George Kyreakakos, attendance 800]
- August 28 – vs. Nova Scotia Selects, 3-0 victory [goals by Hunter Madelay, Kevin Wasden & Dana Peoples, played at Huskies Stadium, Saint Mary’s]
- September 2 – vs. Bermuda national team, 0-0 draw [attendance estimated at 500]
- September 6 – vs. Bermuda national team, result unknown [played in Saint John]
- May 26 – vs. Vancouver 86ers, 0-0 draw [attendance 1891]
- May 28 – vs. Winnipeg Fury, 2-0 victory [both goals by Gordon Hill, attendance 901]
- June 7 – @ Kitchener Kickers, 3-3 draw [goals by Pat Sullivan, Jamie Pollock & Murray David]
- June 9 – vs. Montreal Supra, 1-1 draw [goal by Dennis Larsen, attendance 1231]
- June 16 – vs. North York Rockets, 1-1 draw [goal by George Kryeakakos, attendance 1723]
- June 19 – vs. Toronto Blizzard, 1-0 victory [goal by Lewis Page, attendance 1707]
- June 21 – vs. Hamilton Steelers, 2-1 victory [goals by George Kryeakakos & Dino Lopez, attendance 2002]
- June 23 – @ Winnipeg Fury, 2-2 draw [goals by Lee Sullivan & Micheal Lyons, attendance 1871]
- June 26 – @ Vancouver 86ers, 3-1 defeat [goal by Tom Kouzmanis]
- June 30 – vs. Kitchener Kickers, 1-0 defeat [attendance 1430]
- July 3 – @ Montreal Supra, 3-2 defeat [goals by Dennis Larsen & Lee Sullivan]
- July 5 – vs. Hamilton Steelers, 1-0 defeat [attendance 1279]
- July 12 – @ Kitchener Kickers, victory [goals by Gordon Hill & Hunter Madelay]
- July 14 – @ Hamilton Steelers, 3-0 defeat
- July 19 – vs. Toronto Blizzard, 2-1 victory [both goals by Dennis Larsen, attendance 2232]
- July 21 – vs. North York Rockets, 0-0 draw [game called after 57 minutes due to thunderstorm]
- July 24 – @ Winnipeg Fury, 1-1 draw [goal by Robbie Cleugh, attendance 8629]
- July 26 – @ Vancouver 86ers, defeat
- July 28 – @ North York Rockets, 3-0 defeat [attendance 2015]
- July 31 – @ Toronto Blizzard, 6-1 defeat [goal by Neil Sedgwick, attendance 1980]
- August 2 – @ North York, 5-1 defeat [goal by Gordon Hill]
- August 4 – vs. Kitchener Kickers, 1-0 defeat [attendance 1314]
- August 9 – @ Toronto Blizzard, 4-2 defeat [goals by Dino Lopez & Pat Sullivan]
- August 11 – @ Hamilton Steelers, 2-1 victory [goals by Robbie Cleugh & Dennis Larsen]
- August 14 – vs. Vancouver 86ers, 4-0 defeat [attendance 1489]
- August 25 – vs. Montreal Supra, 2-1 victory [goals by Hunter Madelay & Robbie Cleugh, attendance 1466]
- August 30 – vs. Winnipeg Fury, 2-1 defeat [goal by Dino Lopez, attendance 1131. George Lucas played goal for the Clippers as Shel Brodsgraad was with the Olympic team]
- September 4 – @ Montreal Supra, 1-0 defeat
- September 11 – vs. North York Rockets, 4-0 defeat [attendance 359]
- September 15 – @ North York Rockets, 5-1 defeat [goal by Dwight Hornibrook]
The baseball field in New Waterford is now named after a former mayor as it was renamed in 1992. This field is the second oldest ball field in Canada (after Labatt Park in London). They have been playing baseball on this site since 1911 (Labatt Park is 140 years old, oldest ballfield not only in Canada but the entire world). The discovery of Jerry Marsh Field being the second oldest in Canada was made by a nine-year old girl named Sophia Hillier who made the discovery while working on a heritage project. The family is hoping the park will gain heritage status with the Cape Breton Regional Municipality. The hope is the field will gain this status by next summer. To put the field’s age in prospective, they have been playing baseball here one year longer than they have at Boston’s Fenway Park.
The field was home to the New Waterford Dodgers of the old Cape Breton Colliery League. As discussed in previous posts, this is not the only Colliery League park that is still in use. The only Major Leaguer to play as this park (as a Dodger) was Leo Merullo (who would play for the Cubs). In preperation of the Colliery League (in 1937), the town of New Waterford moved the fences out ten feet and added more spectator seating. The parks in both Glace Bay and Sydney Mines are also still used for ball (both are used for softball today).
The park was also home to the 1959 New Waterford Giants, the first Cape Breton club to win the Maritime championship. In 2011 (the park’s centenary), it underwent renovations including new dugouts, drainage system and fencing which were for the 2011 national Big League championships.
The field is now used by New Waterford Minor Baseball. More information on the field can be found in this article by Jeremy Fraser of the Cape Breton Post. A shout out goes out to Sophia and her father for doing the research regarding this being the second oldest baseball field (still in use) in Canada.