1937 Cape Breton Colliery League



Len Merullo was the last surviving member of the 1945 Cubs.  He played for New Waterford in 1937 (courtesy New York Times).


The 1937 season was first season the Colliery League played as a member of the National Association.  The league played under the Class D classification.  The Colliery League applied to join the National Association in January of 1937.  In addition to the five teams that played the 1937 season, Reserve had joined the league in March before withdrawing.  There was also talk that Pictou would field a team this season but their application was rejected to travel costs not equaling the economic advantage of having a team there.  Glace Bay had requested an affiliation with the Tigers or Philadelphia but was denied.

The league hired two American umpires prior to the season, hoping they would end fighting that plagued the league when it was amateur in prior seasons.  They were also responsible for training local umpires who would work the bases during league games.  These umpires were Douglas Robb and W.E. Claritz, who were recommended by National LEague umpire (and one time Blackhawks coach) Bill Stewart.

Interest in the professional Colliery League was high.  In fact, CBC would broadcast the first two games throughout the Maritimes.  In preparation of professional baseball, all five teams save for Glace Bay would make improvements to the ballparks.  The league’s opening games came on June 7 in Glace Bay with the home team defeating Sydney Mines 5-4 before 5000 fans.

Despite the presence of the imported umpires, many games played throughout the 1937 season were marred my violence.  Many fans, especially in Glace Bay, were rowdy towards the umpires, players and themselves.  There were many instances where the police have to interfere and escort the umpires from the field for their protection.  Many blamed the rowdiness on the sale of alcohol at the games.  In fact, the RCMP had to intervene and attended all games to make sure liquor laws were enforced.  Not making a connection here but it is worth noting many fans at the games were coal miners working in the local mines.


                       W  L  PCT  GB
Glace Bay Miners      29 19 .604   0
Sydney Steel Citians  27 21 .563   2
Sydney Mines Ramblers 27 21 .563   2
Dominion Hawks        23 25 .478   6
New Waterford Dodgers 14 34 .292  15

Sydney defeated Sydney Mines 2 games to for second place
Sydney defeated Glace Bay 4 games to 3 for championship

Dominion – Billy Zitzmann & John Turcin
Glace Bay – Freddie Maguire
New Waterford – Herbie Moran & Mickey Morris
Sydney – Hank Hamilton & Guido Pacciera
Sydney Mines – Bill Buckley

Batting Champion – Guido Pacciera, Sydney (.394)
Home Runs – Chris Pickering, New Waterford (8)
RBI – Guido Pacciera, Sydney (48)
Runs – Chet Ross, Glace Bay (44)
Hits – Guido Pacciera, Sydney (80)

Wins – Roy Moore, Glace Bay (14)
ERA – Roy Moore, Glace Bay (1.33)
Strikeouts – William Jarvis, Sydney (114)

Some background on the players who played in 1937:

Batting champion Guido Pacciera was 23 years old who split the season between the Steel Citians and Boston Bees (Braves) organizations.  He played for the South Atlantic League’s Zanesville Greys (Class C) and Penn State Association’s Beaver Falls Bees (Class D).  Pacciera would spend the next two seasons in Sydney.

Home run king Chris Pickering was a pitcher/outfielder who was playing his final season of professional baseball.  He hit 8 home runs for the Dodgers.  His pitching was not so great, having posted an ERA of 12.60 in only five innings.  He played five games for the International League’s Baltimore Orioles in 1934.  The following season was spent with the Thomasville Orioles of the Georgia Florida League.

Roy Moore would lead the league in both ERA and wins.  He had previous pro experience with the Lowell Millers / Nashua Millionaires of the New England League.  He would pitch three seasons in Glace Bay.  He would spend the 1940 season with the Granby Red Socks of the Quebec Provincial League and 1941 with the Trois-Rivieres Renards of the Canadian-American League.

Strikeout king William Jarvis played the 1937 and 1938 seasons in Sydney.  These are his only recorded seasons of professional baseball.

There were five Major Leaguers in the league this season.  They were Len Merullo (New Waterford), Freddie McGuire (Glace Bay), Charlie Small (Sydney), Eddie Turchin (Dominion) and Billy Zitzmann (Dominion).  Merullo was the last surviving member of the 1945 Chicago Cubs (last pennant winning Cubs teams prior to last year).  He died in 2015.

Information for this post came from here and well as baseball reference (both the site and the bullpen).

This entry was posted in history, Minor Leagues and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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