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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