Major League Exhibitions in Atlantic Canada

Over the years, Atlantic Canada has hosted numerous exhibition games in the NHL, NBA and CFL. There have even been regular season games played in the NHL (Halifax) and CFL (Moncton).  What many don’t realize is that MLB has also played games on the Canadian east coast. There have been three exhibitions played here plus another one that was scheduled but got snowed out. Not surprisingly, all these games were in-season exhibition games as the weather in the Maritimes is too cold and snow to host games during the MLB preseason (March).  Details on all four games are as follows:

August 26, 1930: Boston Red Sox 7, Saint John (Greater Boston Twilight League) 5

Not much can be found on the internet about this game other than the score and the fact it took place, but I can provide some background information.  The Saint John team completed in a league with teams mostly from the Boston area (Quincy, Dorchester, Malden, South Boston, and Roslindale).  Saint John being an outliner who really extended the term “Greater Boston”.  The Red Sox had three consecutive off days from August 25-27, with the last games being a split doubleheader against the White Sox at Fenway Park.  The next day (August 25), the team sailed from Boston up to Saint John for this game.  Their next game was a home game against the Philadelphia Athletics.  The team would finish the season with a 52-102 record, last place in the American League and 50 games behind first place.

Braves in St. Stephen

(Courtesy: Lewison Daily Sun – July 18, 1934)

July 17, 1934: Boston Braves 11, St. Stephen Kiwanis Club 3

This game was played on a beautiful day in front of over 5000 fans, in fact they had to rope off the outfield in order to accommodate the crowd.   The Braves scored nine runs in the first two innings.  But, over the final seven innings, the locals scored three runs to the Braves two.  During 1934, the Kiwanis (also known as the Mohawks and St. Croixs) won the fourth of nine straight New Brunswick championships (1931-39).  The team also won seven Maritime championships over the same nine-year period.  The majority of the players came from the St. Stephen, Milltown and Calais (ME) area.  The Braves finished the season in fourth place in the National League with a record of 78-73, with one tie; 16 games behind first place.  The Braves split a doubleheader at home against the Pittsburgh Pirates on July 15 before they travelled to Bangor for a game against the Eastern Maine All-Stars the next day.  They would win that game 13-3.  The day after the St. Stephen game, the Braves were back in Boston, playing another doubleheader against the same Pittsburgh club.  This time, they would win both ends of the twin-bill.  All-Stars on the Braves were centrefielder Wally Berger and pitcher Fred Frankhouse.

Braves game program

Game program Braves vs. Yarmouth (Courtesy:

September 26, 1935: Boston Braves 20, Yarmouth Gateways 2

This game was played at the YAAA grounds and was sponsored by the Kiwanis Club in support of the Sunshine Camp for Underprivileged Children.  Tickets to the games were $2.00 ($34.97 in 2014 dollars).  The Braves feasted off Yarmouth pitching by recording 21 hits and scoring 20 runs.  It is to date, the only time a MLB club has played a game in Nova Scotia.  Three days prior to this game, the Gateways defeated the St. Stephen Milltown Kiwanis, on the road, for the Maritime Baseball championship.  The Braves, on the other hand, finished in last place in the National League with a 38-115 record, 61.5 games behind the pennant winning Chicago Cubs.  Two days prior to the Yarmouth game, the Braves lost both ends of a doubleheader in Brooklyn, and the day following the Gateways game, they recorded a rare win, at home against the New York Giants.  The lone All-Star on the Braves that year was centrefielder Wally Berger.  Babe Ruth retired from the Braves in May of this year.  Halley Horton of the Gateways commented, “Everyone else had to pay $2.00 to see the Braves play and we watched them for free.

April 25, 1988: Toronto Blue Jays vs. National Baseball Institute in Saint John (snowed out)

After finishing up a series in New York the previous day, the Blue Jays travelled to Saint John to play the NBI (essentially the Junior National Team).  Unfortunately, it snowed overnight Sunday and the game was not played.  During the late 1980s and early 1990s the Blue Jays played an annual exhibition game against the NBI which was played in different cities across the country.  Before travelling to Saint John, the Blue Jays lost the first game of what would end of being a six game losing streak in New York.  They travelled to Saint John after that game, where they spent the evening at Grannan’s Seafood Restaurant and Oyster Bar.  There, many of players got drunk (including reigning AL MVP George Bell and rookie Todd Stottlemyre) as they spent much of the evening in the tavern area.  They resumed American League play the next day (Tuesday, April 26) at home against the Oakland Athletics.  They would finish the season with a record of 87-75, just two games back in the American League East, which had them tied for third place.  It was a tight race that year with the top five teams in the division, finishing within 3.5 games of each other.  The Blue Jays lone All-Star that year was pitcher Dave Steib.

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