Championship Series – David and Goliath – Polar League, 1963

Posted 1 August, 2018

                      Championship Series

                        David and Goliath

            With the win over the Stylers, Johnny’s Cardinals were off to the Polar League finals against the powerful The Pas Teepees,  defending champions and winners of eleven of their last twelve games…

No one gave them much of a chance. The Pas newspaper wrote that “the best team didn’t win the semi finals in Flin Flon” but acknowledged that the “spunky Cardinals put on an impressive performance to steal away the series.” He went on to say that “the Teepees had not been beat at home all season and should win the series four straight unless they suffer a complete collapse.” He called them the “New York Yankees” of the Polar League.

Well, the collapse would come in the form of left handed pitcher Bob Remington.  Remington was coming off a mediocre  season but looked like he was hitting his stride late in the season and in the first game of the playoffs.  Remington’s biggest problem wasn’t the opposition batters as much as getting to the games as he worked at HBM&S in Snow Lake and had to communicate a long distance to each game.  He was only able to make two of the five semi final games against the Ross’ Stylers.

The Teepees would be without their ace Don Miller for the first few games as he was called north on business commitments but they were more than confident in their rookie Al Wolfe to get the job done. Wolfe was coming off an outstanding season which saw him lose only two games.

Game One – Wolfe outduels Remington in a classic

Game one was a classic pitching duel between two of the league’s best pitchers.

The game was scoreless until the bottom of the sixth inning when Teepee catcher Orest Strocel reached first on a throwing error to the Cards third baseman George Chigol.  Strocel then went to went to third on Barry Rowley’s single over short.  After Claude Kozik flied out, Pete Warwo drilled a two run double to right field to put the Teepees up 2-0. Remington then retired the next two batters on infield grounders to end the inning but the damage was done. Wolfe retired the Cardinals in order in the top of the seventh as the Teepees took game one.

Both pitchers were brilliant, each giving up only four hits.  Remington stuck out seven batters while walking one. Wolfe fanned three Cardinals and issued one walk.

GAME ONE            1  2  3  4  5  6  7   Runs  Hits

Cardinals                0  0  0  0  0  0 0      0        4

TeePees                  0  0  0  0  0  2  X     2        4

WP:   Al Wolfe (TP)     LP:  Bob Remington ©

              Game Two – Errors cost Cards game two in slugfest     

Game two was much different than game one as the Cards jumped on Teepee starter Ticky King in the first inning. After Cards’ leadoff batter Myles Gillard led off with a walk, successive singles by Rich Billy, Vic Poirier and Glen Bensen plated three runs and gave the Cards an early 3-0 lead. The Teepees came back In the bottom of the first with a couple of unearned runs against Cardinal starter Gordie Waldmo without getting the ball out of the infield cashing in on an error, walk, two stolen bases and two infield outs.

In the bottom of the second inning, the Teepees exploded for five runs, knocking Waldmo out of the game. Waldmo, who has been the victim of some shoddy fielding during the semi finals, saw his team mates make three errors, combined with three singles and a Peter Wawro double to jump ahead 7-3.  Dennis Anderson was summoned to relieve Waldmo.

Teepees starter Ticky King also didn’t escape the third inning as the Cards jumped on him for three runs more runs cutting the lead to 7-6.  King was replaced by Claude Kozik who got through the fourth but was nicked for two more runs in the fifth as the Cards retook the lead 8-7.

The Teepes tied the game with a run in the bottom of the fifth then struck for the winning runs in the bottom of the sixth  after two were out.  After Bill Donaldson singled and Orest Pidskalny double, Orest Strocel’s ground ball skipped by Cardinal shortstop Bob McDowell allowing the winning runs to score. Bob Remington came on to get the last Teepee batter in the sixth and keep the Cards within two.

Kozik managed to escape the seventh with the 10-8 victory.

It was a tough loss for Card reliever Dennis Anderson  as the Cards offense went dead and failed to get a hit in their last three at bats against reliever Claude Kozik. Dennis Anderson took the loss but he and starting pitcher Waldmo were the victims of some shoddy fielding as their teammates committed seven errors behind them.

The Teepees outhit the Cardinals 11-10 with Pete Wawro leading the way with three hits including two doubles.  Billy and Bensen had two hits apiece for the Cards.

The game was costly for the Cardinals as they lost shortstop Bob McDowell. Teepee baserunner Claude Kozik went out of his way to take out McDowell  hard at second base injuring his shoulder. The hit came long after the shortstop had thrown the ball to first completing the back end of a double play with second baseman Billy. McDowell stayed in the game and was able to field and throw the ball but the injured shoulder would not allow him to swing the bat and he was limited to bunting when he was at the plate.

GAME 2            1  2  3  4  5  6  7    Runs   Hits

Cardinals          3  0  3  0  2  0  0      8        10

TeePees            2  5  0  0  1  2  X     10       11

TP:  Ticky King,  WP – Claude Kozak (3)

C:    Gord Waldmo,  LP – Dennis Anderson (2)

Game Three – Cardinals get revenge

Game three back in Flin Flon was a rematch the first game starters.  Al Wolfe came up with another solid performance limiting the Cardinals to just four hits over the seven innings , but they managed to bunch their hits together to score their runs.

The Cards took a 1-0 lead in the third inning when Vic Poirier was hit by a pitch and Bob Remington followed  with a single.  Shortstop Dennis Anderson, in for the injured McDowell,  cashed in Poirier with a single.

The Cards second run came in the fourth when Gillard singled, was sacrificed to second by Billy and was driven home by Rupp’s single.

Teepees  threatened in the top of the fourth when  Rowley,  Kozik and Wawro hit consecutive singles but Rowley was thrown out at the plate by Gillard trying to score from second.   Donaldson kept the rally going when his ground ball was bobbled by second baseman  Billy, loading the bases with one out.  But the second baseman redeemed himself with two ground ball outs with the bases loaded. First he gunned down Kozik on a force play at home plate, then threw out  White at first to end the inning.

The Teepees  gave it one last shot in the top of the seventh when Teepees  Cox doubled and Billy could not handle Pidskalny’s ground ball at second allowing Cox to score from second with the Teepees’ only run.  Remington took his second base man off the hook retiring the side in order and stranding Pidskalny at first base as the Cards hung on for a  2-1 win.

Remington held the Teepees to five hits and received some outstanding plays in the field.

Game 3          1  2  3  4  5  6  7    Runs  Hits

TeePees         0  0  0  0  0  0  1       1       5

Cardinals        0  0  1  1  0  0  X       2       4

WP: Bob Remington (C),   LP:  Al Wolfe (TP)

 

Game four – Cardinals do what was thought impossible

The second game of the doubleheader featured a rematch of game two starters Ticky King and Gordie Waldmo.

Cardinals opened the scoring in the bottom of the first inning when Sedgewick  singled and Bensen  drove him home with a double.

Doug White answered for the Teepees in the top of the second with a two run homer to the short right field off Waldmo to put the Teepees ahead 2-1.

In the fifth inning, the Cardinals scored two runs to take back the lead with the big blow coming off the bat of  Rupp  who hit a ground rule double into the Ross Lake School yard to drive in Gillard who had walked and  Bensen who  doubled.  Another walk to Chigol signaled the end of King as Kozik came on in relief.  Teepee’s third baseman  Cox saved two more runs when he ran down Anderson’s blooper over third base.

The Cards then blew it open in the sixth with four more runs. A two run single by Billy off Kozik opened the flood gates and catcher Len Sedgwick welcomed the Teepee’s third reliever Al Wolfe with a triple driving in Billy.  Gillard followed with another ground rule double to right to drive Sedgwick in with the final run and a 7-2 lead heading into the seventh.

The Teepees made some noise in the top of the seventh when Cox singled and pinch hitter Pidskalny  homered to cut the lead to 7-4. Remington came in relief to put out the fire for starter Waldmo and secure the win.

Waldmo, coming off a tough outing in The Pas a week earlier rebounded to throw a neat seven hitter, striking out five and walking one to earn the victory.  He also received some solid  defensive  play behind him, something that was missing in game two in The Pas.

The Cards, who collected ten base hits got two hits apiece from Sedgwick, Rupp, Poirier and Bensen who also scored two runs and drove in two runs.

The double header sweep was the first time the Teepees had been swept in a number of years.

Game  4          1  2  3  4  5  6  7   Runs  Hits

TeePees          0  2  0  0  0  0  2     4       7

Cardinals        1  0  0  0  2  4  X      7      10

WP: Gord Waldmo (C), Remington (7)   LP: Ticky King (TP), Claude Kozak (5)

HR: Doug White  (TP)

 

                  Game Five – Cards put Teepees behind the eight ball

Game five in Flin Flon showcased the third installment of the Wolfe-Remington show. Wolfe had bested Remington 2-0 in game one and Remington returned the favour 2-1 in game three.

The Cards gave their pitcher all the runs he would need in the first inning jumping on Wolfe for three runs.  After Gillard and Billy reached base on errors, Bensen doubled them home for the first two runs.  Rupp followed with a single to score Bensen.

The Cards added two more in the third inning when Bensen and Rupp hit back to back doubles to plate one run.  Rupp then attempted to steal third and the Teepee catcher threw the ball into left field allowing Rupp to score easily and give the Cards a 5-0 lead.

The Teepees managed to scrape a run across in the top of the sixth but Remington shut them down the rest of the way. Remington finished the game with a seven hitter and was back up by some outstanding defense play from their two rookie infielders Anderson and Billy at second.  Remington’s regular catcher Len Sedgwick was unavailable for the game and Mel Pearson stepped in to do a great job handling the catching duties. McDowell was available to play the infield if needed but still could not swing the bat.

The Cardinals now had to journey to The Pas for game six and possibly game seven with an unenviable task of beating the Teepees on their home turf. The Teepees had not lost a game at home all season and would be welcoming back their top pitcher and league MVP Don Miller.  Miller had a 10-2 season record and two more wins in the semi finals against Bowsman.  Miller missed the first five games of the final due to business commitments.

Game 5           1  2  3  4  5  6  7     Runs   Hits

TeePees          0  0  0  0  0   1  0        1        7

Cardinals         3  0  2  0  0  0   X       5         5

WP: Bob Remington (C) , LP: Al Wolfe (TP)

Game Six – Managers’ decisions make the difference

Cardinal manager John Wilken had a big decision to make for game six.  His ace Bob Remington had worked the night shift at Snow Lake and made the trip to The Pas in the early hours but he was available.  He also had Gordie Waldmo, coming off a solid performance in Cards game four win. They also had Dennis Anderson, who had pitched only in relief in this series, but was coming off a no hit game  in the deciding game of the semi finals against the Stylers. Wilken chose to go with Waldmo and save his ace for a possible seventh game. He always had Anderson in the wings although his services were needed at shortstop replacing the injured McDowell. It turned out to be a great managerial move.

The Teepees had their two aces, Don Miller and Al Wolfe ready to go. Manager Ticky King chose to go with Miller in game one  and use the Wolfe/Miller  combination in the deciding game if it was necessary.

The first game was no contest as the Teepees , with their backs to the wall, came out smoking. They jumped on Waldmo  for a run in each of the first two innings and then added three more in the third for an early 5-0 lead.  Anderson came on in the fifth but fared no better giving up three runs in each of the  fifth and sixth innings as his offense and defense faltered behind him. But it turned out the Cards were saving it up for game seven by this time.

The Cards only runs came on Poirier’s home run and Rupp’s run scoring double.

Teepee manager Ticky King, continued to leave his ace Miller in to pitch long after the game was not in doubt and it would prove to be a critical mistake.

Game 6          1  2  3  4  5  6  7    Runs  Hits 

Cardinals       0  0  0  0  0  2  0       2       3

TeePees         1  1  3  3  3  0  X      11     14

WP:  Don Miller (TP) , LP:  Gord Waldmo, Dennis Anderson (5)

HR: Vic Poirier (C)

Game Seven  – Both teams all in

Game seven would be yet another pitching duel between Remington and Wolfe. It would be the fourth meeting of the two lefthanders in the series with Remington winning two of the first three meeting.

Remington and the Cards got a little scare before the game when Remington, warming up too close to the chain length fence, clipped the fence with his pitching hand during one of his side arm deliveries gashing his middle finger.  But it did not hinder his delivery and he was good to  go.

As they did against Wolfe in game five in Flin Flon, the Cards came out hitting.   Gillard singled on the first pitch from Wolfe and promptly stole second.  After Wolfe retired Billy, Sedgwick drove Gillard home with a solid single over second base and the Cards had an early 1-0 lead.

Cards went back to work in the top of the second inning pounding out three straight singles by  Poirier,  Remington and Anderson.  With the base loaded and nobody out, Teepee manager Ticky King panicked and brought in his ace Don Miller. Miller had pitched the first game of the double header without working up a sweat.   But things were different in game two.

Gillard greeted Miller with a perfect sacrifice bunt to score Poirier.  Billy blooped a single over second to score Remington and Anderson and the Cards jumped to a 4-0 lead.

The Teepees struck for four singles in the bottom of the second  but Remington limited the damage to two runs by striking out the side.

But the Cards kept coming in the top of the third. After Rupp walked, Chigol hit a frozen rope over the left field fence for a two run homer and a 6-2 lead. The Teepees took advantage of a couple of errors and a single to narrow the gap to 6-3 in the bottom of the third.

Miller and Remington then settled down to pitch two scoreless innings before the Cardinals drove a stake through the heart of the mighty Teepees in the top of the sixth.

Poirier, who was having a great playoff run, walked to open the inning.  A couple of Teepee errors loaded the bases and Remington, a better than average hitting pitcher, helped his own cause with a three run double and a 9-3 lead.

The Teepees didn’t go easy scratching out two runs of their own in the bottom of the sixth inning but it was all for not as the Cards salted the game away in the top of the seventh.  Rupp opened with a double and McDowell moved him to third with a perfect bunt single.  The Cardinals then took advantage of a disheartened Teepee squad who started to kick the ball around to score three runs more runs and a 12-5 lead heading into the final inning. In the bottom of the seventh, Remington gave up a lead off  bloop single to Pidskalny then retired the next three batters in order to win the game and the series.  It was Remington’s third win of the series, all against Al Wolfe, who took the loss.

Game 7          1  2  3  4  5  6  7   Runs  Hits

Cardinals       1  3  2  0  0  3  3     12    14

TeePees         0  2  1  0  0  2  0       5     11

WP: Bob Remington (C)     Al Wolfe (TP), LP:  Don Miller (2)

HR: George Chigol  (C)

Cardinals Bob Remington Series MVP

Remington was by far the Cards MVP of the series pitching brilliantly in four games and winning three. But he did need the support of his teammates in the last game as the Teepees touched him for eleven hits. But the Cards played a spirited game defensively with infielders Anderson and Billy turning three double plays and Gillard and Poirier making some great running catches in the outfield.

Great Fan Cardinal Fan Support for final game

The stands were full of happy Flin Flon fans who journeyed down to see the final two games. And they got their money’s worth. It was the second championship for the Cardinals who won the title in the Polar League’s initial year. Vic Poirier was the only member of that winning team still playing with the Cards.

Final series similar to 1962

It was the second time in three years that a Flin Flon team has won the league crown. The Stylers did it in 1961. In 1962, the Cardinals played in the final against the Teepees which was eerily  similar to this year’s final. The script was the same as the two teams split the first four games and the Cards took a 3-2 lead with a 4-3 win back in Flin Flon.  The Teepees forced a seventh game with a  10-5  behind their ace Don Miller. But this time the Teepees prevailed in game seven beating the Cardinals 7-3 with Miller, in relief of starter Wally Hausknecht, getting the win.

 

 

 

Cardinals vs Stylers Polar League – Semi Final Series – 1963,

Posted 1 August, 2018

Game One –  Cardinals surprise Stylers

It was the Ross’ Stylers and the Johnny’s Cardinals in the first round of the playoffs in 1963.  The Stylers had pushed the first place Teepees all  season before having to settle for second place when the Teepees went on an eight game winning streak to end the season. The Cardinals were coming off a mediocre season which saw them finish in fourth place with a .500 win/loss percentage.

In the best of five series opener the Cards sent their ace Bob Remington to the mound to face the Stylers’ young lefthander Al Hamilton.  Remington, who was coming off a great 1962 season, had his problems early but was rounding into shape late in the season and this boded well for the underdog  Cardinals.

The Cardinals got to Hamilton in the first inning.  After lead-off batter Myles Gillard went down swinging, Rich Billy singled and Len Sedgwick doubled to put runners on second and third. After Glen Bensen popped out to short stop Norm Kvern, Duane Rupp looped a single to center to score both runners and give the Cardinals the lead they would never relinquish.

The Stylers had Remington in trouble only once, the bottom of the first inning.  Glen Arnold singled and then scored on Bart Longmore’s long single. Remington then struck out catcher Larry Derksen and got Kvern  to pop out with Longmore moving around to third with two out. With Don Donaldson at the plate, Longmore tried to steal home and was gunned down at the plate.

The Cards bounced Hamilton out of the game in the top of the second inning with a three run outburst. Shortstop Bob McDowell led off the inning with a walk. Vic Poirier singled and Myles Gillard walked to load the bases.  Rich Billy’s solid single to center eluded centerfielder Bart Longmore scoring all three runners.  That was all for young Hamilton as he stomped off the mound giving way to reliever Jim Jankovich.

Jankovich hurled three scoreless innings but did not have the answer  to Duane Rupp in the sixth. After Billy and Sedgwick singled, Rupp jumped on a Jankovich fastball that got too much of the plate and drove the ball out of the park for a three run homer and an 8-1 Cardinal lead.

Kvern’s solo home run in the bottom of the sixth was the only other run that the Stylers could muster off Remington who finished the game allowing just five hits while striking out five.  In the seventh he retired Patty Hamilton on a line drive to second and then struck out Al Wheeler and pitcher  Jankovich to end the game.

Jim Jankovich also pitched well in his five innings of relief allowing the Cards just six hits while striking out seven and walking two.

Billy led the 11-hit  Cardinal attack with three singles in five at bats and was robbed of a fourth hit by Jankovich who knocked down his hard drive back  to the mound and threw him out at first.

Other Cardinals to pick up more than one hit were Rupp,  Sedgwick and Poirier with two hits apiece.

Second baseman Glen Arnold was the only bright spot for the Stylers reaching base three times including a double and a walk.   Longmore’s game breaking error in the second inning was rare for the Styler centerfielder and one of only a few he made all season. Kvern’s homer, his first of the season, was the only hard hit ball off Remington.

         Game two –  Cardinals outlast Stylers in a 10 inning thriller

In game two,  it was veteran Al Wheeler against Gordie Waldmo in another battle of the lefthanders.

The Stylers opened the scoring with two runs in the second inning on two hits, an error and a base on balls.  Then added two more in the  third on three straight singles.

Meanwhile, Al Wheeler was coasting through the first three inning without  giving up a hit before he got into trouble in the fourth. Three straight singles by Dennis Anderson, Myles Gillard and Rich Billy loaded the bases with none out.  After Wheeler got Len Sedgwick to fly out and fanned the ever dangerous Duane Rupp he appeared to be out of the woods facing the light hitting Bob McDowell.  But McDowell had other ideas jumping on a Wheeler offering blasting a grand slam home run to right field and it was a brand new ballgame.

The Stylers rebounded in the top of the fifth when Jim Holdaway hit a  towering two run double deep to center over Gillard. The hit marked the end of Waldmo’s day as Anderson came on in relief.

But the Cards were not to be denied. They loaded the bases in the bottom of the fifth with two out and Billy at the plate. Billy had hit the ball well all series and had a solid single in his previous at bat against Wheeler. Lefthander  Al Hamilton was ready and waiting in the wings.   After a long discussion on the mound the Stylers decided  to pitch to Billy and it was one batter too much for Wheeler.  Billy squared off on the first sweeping curve ball he saw from Wheeler driving the ball deep to right field hitting the famous telephone pole half way up and  bouncing back unto the field for a ground rule double driving in two runs and tying the game at six. Hamilton was finally summoned and retired Sedgewick to end the inning.

The extra innings was packed with plenty of action as both clubs threatened to break the tie. Anderson, who relieved starter Gordie Waldmo in the  fifth,  got some outstanding fielding behind him to keep the Stylers off the scoreboard.  Hamilton escaped the Cardinal threats with strikeouts at key times with men in scoring positions.

The tenth inning was a wild one. First, outfielder Vic Poirier robbed Al Hamilton with a fine shoe-string catch on his sinking line drive. Then shortstop Bob McDowell leaped high in the air to spear Glen Arnold’s drive destined for extra bases. Bart Longmore then singled and Larry Derksen reached on an error to put runners in scoring position but Anderson closed the door by enticing Norm Kvern to hit a lazy fly ball to Gillard in short center field.

Anderson then led off the bottom of the tenth walking on five pitches.  He was erased at second on Gillard’s  fielder’s choice.  Gillard then stole second and went to third on a wild pitch by Hamilton

with  Billy at the plate. Hamilton struck out Billy for the second out and had two strikes on catcher Len Sedgewick. With Hamilton not working from the stretch, Gillard took advantage of Hamilton’s slow, deliberate windup and delivery and broke for home. The two strike pitch was in the dirt giving Styler catcher Larry Derksen no chance to catch the ball and tag out the speedy Gillard.

The two teams pounded out 27 hits  between them  with the Stylers outhitting the Cards 17 to 12 in what was called one of the most entertaining games in memory.  Holdaway led the Styler hit parade with three hits including two doubles. Arnold continued his hitting streak pounding out two hits and was robbed of two more hits by outstanding fielding plays by the Cardinal Infield. Longmore, Derksen and Patty Hamilton also  had two hits for the Stylers.

Bob McDowell’s grand slam was undoubtedly the biggest Cardinal  hit of the game as he put the his team back in the game with one swing of the bat. Rupp chipped in with three hits while Billy and Sedgewick chipped in with two hits apiece.

The contest was marred in the top of the seventh when Styler slugger Don Donaldson was thrown out of the game for flinging his bat out of the playing field after a called strike. Donaldson  received a one game suspension  and will sit out game three.

It was a tough loss for Hamilton who struck out eight batters  while giving up  four hits and four walks in his five innings of relief work.  Anderson took the win for his five innings of stellar relief work.

   Game Three – Jankovich rides to the rescue as Styler stave off elimination

In game three, the Stylers turned to Jim Jankovich to try and salvage their season and the big righthander responded with a masterful performance limiting the Cardinals to two scratch singles and two meaningless runs as the Stylers coasted to a 6-2 win and get back into the best of five series.

The Cards started fast and looked like they were going to run the Stylers out of the park in the first inning.  The usually slick fielding Glen Arnold bobbled Gillard’s leadoff  grounder.  Billy sacrificed Gillard to second and the Cardinal centerfielder scored when Sedgwick’s ground ball went through Styler shortstop Kvern.  After Rupp struck out, Sedgwick scored when Styler third baseman Patty Hamilton couldn’t find the handle on Larry Lindquist’s ground ball. Jankovich then fanned Bob McDowell to end the inning.

The Stylers wasted no time in tying up the contest in their half of the inning.  After retiring the first two batters, Cardinal starter Glen Bensen served up walks to  Longmore and  Kvern before hitting Lloyd Young with a pitch to load the bases.  Patty  Hamilton looped a single over short to score Longmore and Kvern before Bensen got Jim Holdaway to ground out to first to end the inning.

Bensen was back in trouble in the third when Larry Derksen singled and Norm Kvern was safe on a fielder’s choice and Derksen was also safe at second.  Young singled to load the bases and Holdaway followed with a long off field flyball that just eluded the outstretched glove of leftfielder Vic Poirier to clear the bases.  At this point, Dennis Anderson entered the game in relief and got Gene Madarash to fly to Gillard in center to end the inning.

 

The Stylers added their sixth run in the fifth, when Derksen blasted a sizzling single over short and then through the legs of leftfielder Poirier rolling all the way to the ditch with Derksen rounding the bases. Anderson, who pitched brilliantly in his five inning relief job in the extra inning win in game two was visibly tiring and was replaced by centerfielder Gillard for the final four outs.

Patty Hamilton and Larry Derksen led  the Styler hitters with two hits apiece.  Jim Holdaway added a three run double for the winners.

     Game Four –  Rain saves the Cardinals

In game four,  it was all Stylers from the get go as they looked like money in the bank to even their series at two games apiece .

They jumped on Cardinal ace Bob Remington  early rapping the lefthander for seven runs and a 4-0 lead by the third inning and seemed well on their way to tying the series.  Stylers’ Al Hamilton was coasting along giving up only one hit, a sharp single Billy in the first inning while striking out four and walking two.

Glen Arnold started the first inning rally with a leadoff single. Then, after Longmore and Derksen were retired, successive singles by Kvern,  Young and Al Hamilton plated two runs.

Remington   managed to get through the second inning giving up only a single to Arnold but in the third, the Stylers unloaded the heavy lumber.  Kvern and Young slammed back to back homers as the Stylers moved in front 4-0 after three.

Although the Stylers had solved Remington they could not solve the weatherman.  A light sprinkle turned into a downpour in the fourth inning with Umpire Jack Clark calling that game at that point. The rain continued the rest of the day preventing the clubs from finishing the game later in the day.

In the replay of game four, the Stylers  will send their ace Jim Jankovich back to the mound to try and even the series.

          Game Four Replay –  Cards again fail to solve Jankovich

            The replay of game four saw veteran Jim Jankovich back on the mound for the Stylers trying to again weave his magic and force a fifth and deciding game. Gordie Waldmo got the call for the Cards.

Stylers opened the scoring in the top of the first inning when Arnold led off with a single and moved to third when third baseman Billy who failed to come up with Derksen’s ground ball.  The Cards then conceded Arnold’s run throwing out Kvern at first and but then Derksen was caught trying to move over to third.

After Jankovich retired the Cards in order in the bottom of the first, the Stylers struck for two more runs in the second.  Young led off the inning with a long drive to right center which cleared the cars parked on Boam Street. Pat Hamilton singled and was safe at second  when the Cards’ infielders botched a force play at second on Holdaway’s slow grounder. Arnold checked in with his second single of the game to score Hamilton.

The Cards got their only two runs in the bottom of the second inning when Bensen led off with a single and Longmore dropped McDowell’s sinking liner.  With one out, Poirier lined a double to score both runners but was cut down by a nice throw by outfielder Madarash trying to stretch it to a triple.

The defensive play of the game came in the bottom of the third with the Stylers nursing a 3-2 lead. With Billy running from first at Sedgwick sent a long blast to deep center which Longmore ran down to end the inning.

The Stylers got their fourth run in the sixth when  Patty Hamilton  was safe on another Billy error.  Holdaway walked and pinch hitter Donaldson struck out for the first out.  Then after a double steal by Hamilton and Holdaway put runners at second and third, Jankovich tapped a slow roller toward Billy at third and his rushed throw to catcher Sedgewick was off the mark with Hamilton scoring the Styler fourth run.

Jankovich closed out the game in the seventh striking out Bensen and Pearson and coaxing McDowell to ground out. It was the second straight brilliant performance for Jankovich  despite having arm troubles that diminished the effect of his fastball. But the veteran righthander used a mixture of  breaking balls and off speed pitches to keep the Cardinals hitter off balance the entire game.  Losing pitcher Waldmo pitched a strong game and deserved a better fate  but was the victim of some costly errors behind him.

Arnold kept up his torrid hitting pace with two more hits.  Young with his home run and double supplied the power.

The Cardinals played without the services of their power hitting first baseman Duane Rupp and third baseman George Chigol. Billy, who moved over to Chigol’s spot from second base struggled mightily making three errors that led to two of the Styler runs.

While the Cards get their two stars back, the Stylers will lose their catcher Derksen for the deciding game. Longmore will be an adequate replacement behind the plate but they will miss Derksen’s bat in the lineup.

There is a chance that Bob Remington will not be unavailable for the deciding game due to work commitments in Snow Lake  and it looks like Dennis Anderson, who has been steady in his three appearances in the series, will get the call.  Al Hamilton, the young 16 year old lefthander will take the mound for the Stylers.

        Game Five – Winner take all.

No one seems to remember if Bob Remington ever made the deciding game. But it didn’t matter as Cardinal manager John Wilken had already made Dennis Anderson his choice on the mound for the final game.   After pitching a first game gem, Remington had been knocked around pretty good by then.

Styler hitters in the rain shortened game four.  The lefthander was not available for the replay of game four and hadn’t pitched for over a week and a half. Meanwhile, Anderson, who did not start any games in the series, had pitched in three games including two strong five inning relief jobs getting the win in

the wild ten inning second game. Wilken’s choice was a good one as Anderson was perfect through four innings.  Meanwhile,  Hamilton was pitching a gem of his own. After giving up back to back singles to Gillard and Billy in the first inning, the young lefthander struck out Sedgwick and retired Bensen on a ground ball. Then with runners in scoring position he caught the ever dangerous Rupp looking at a third strike.

Stylers’ Donaldson spoiled the perfect game getting on base on an error to lead off the fifth. Then Anderson made it even tougher on himself when he fielded Patty Hamilton’s comebacker to the mound and turned and threw the ball into center field in his attempted double play. The error left runners at second and third with none out. But the always cool, righthander bore down to strikeout Young.

Then came the play of the series.  With Donaldson at third and less than two out, Holdaway

attempted to squeeze Donaldson home with a bunt.  The ball was bunted straight down, hit the plate and came straight up striking Holdaway’s bat a second time before rolling ahead into fair territory.  Anderson pounced off the mound quickly and threw out Holdaway at first as Donaldson slid across with what was thought to be the first run of the game.  But home umpire Alex Huston ruled Holdaway out for interference and  sent the runners back to their respective bases.  But Huston may have made a mistake. The rule now states that if the batter is still in the box  when the ball strikes the bat twice, it is only ruled a foul/dead ball and the runners are returned to the base that they previously occupied. Huston called Holdaway out. So the Cards caught a break and with two out Anderson got Al Hamilton to ground to short but McDowell’s  throw was low and first baseman Rupp made a great play digging the ball out of the dirt and keeping the game scoreless.

Rupp led off the seventh and worked Hamilton into a two ball, one strike hitter’s count. Hamilton, not wanting to give in to the Cardinal power hitter by throwing him a fastball with the short porch to right field came in his curve ball. Unfortunately, he hung the pitch letter high and Rupp hit it deep to right center on to Boam Street.

It would be the only run young Anderson would need.  He retired Kvern, a former teammate from the juvenile Legion team, on a long fly ball to center.  Donaldson then bounced a 2-1 pitch to Chigol and third who fielded the ball cleanly but threw low to first handcuffing Rupp and putting  Donaldson on first base.  Donaldson promptly stole second base but got greedy and was gunned down trying to steal third by Cardinal catcher Sedgwick.

This left Styler third baseman Patty Hamilton to only thing standing between Anderson and his no hitter and series clinching victory. Billy, at second base I knew the right handed hitting Hamilton’s liked to go off field with most of his hits and played him perfectly in the hole between first and second.  Hamilton worked the count to 3-0 before reaching out and  hitting a slow rolling ground ball directly at Billy who had an easy play to Rupp for the final out putting his young pitcher into Polar League history and the Cardinals into the final against The Pas Teepees.

Anderson face 24 batters, only three above the minimum.  He struck out five and did not walk a  man.  Hamilton, who also pitched brilliantly, except for one hanging curve ball, sent seven Cardinals down swinging while walking only one batter.  After giving up the two singles to Gillard and Billy in the first inning, Hamilton was only touched for three more hits the rest of the game. – a singles by Rupp in the fourth and Gillard in the sixth, before the big blow in the seventh.  Although he pitched three strong games he was the losing pitcher in all three Styler losses.

The team presented Anderson with the game ball signed by all his teammates. Johnny Boychuk, owner of Johnny’s Confectionery and sponsor of the team, rewarded Dennis by telling him to go to his sporting goods section and pick out any baseball glove that he wanted. Dennis has always cherished this gift and the game ball and still has them to this day.

Here is the Cardinal batting line-up for Anderson’s no hitter: 1. Myles Gillard (CF), 2. Rich Billy (2B) , 3. Len Sedgwick (C), 4. Glen Bensen (RF), 5. Duane Rupp (1B),  6. George Chigol (3B), 7. Bob McDowell (SS), 8. Vic Poirier (LF) 9. Dennis Anderson (P).

Safeguarding the History of Baseball in Manitoba

Posted 19 April, 2013

It’s one of only three baseball-shrines in Canada.

Manitoba’s Baseball Museum and Hall of Fame has fairly humble accommodations: it’s located in a community centre in Morden, about an hour drive south of Winnipeg.

But inside are some treasures dating to the early days of the game, including equipment, uniforms and photos dating back to the early 1900’s.

The hall of fame was featured recently on the province’s only weekly current affairs program, Focus Manitoba.

Read the article here: globalnews.ca/news/496474/safeguarding-the-history-of-baseball-in-manitoba/

 

“Cottage North” storyteller – July-August 2009

Posted 1 July, 2009

Batter Up… Play Ball!

Polar League Baseball

by Morley G. Naylor

“Ladies and gentlemen, the batteries for this afternoon’s game are: for the Johnny’s Cardinals – Wheeler pitching and Sedgwick catching, and for The Pas TeePees – Marlowe pitching and….” the crowd noise drowns out the words of the umpire. Yankee Stadium… no. SkyDome in Toronto… no. It’s Foster Park in Flin Flon, Manitoba, and this is Polar League baseball at its best.

While much is written about the fame of the Flin Flon Junior Bombers and their exploits, little remains on record locally about a very good baseball league involving Flin Flon, Creighton, Cranberry Portage, and The Pas. Join us as we view the league, its players, and some not so tall tales about Polar League baseball as seen through the eyes of a youngster. So, with my tattered notebook of scores tracking my favourite team, the Cardinals, we’ll follow the trails wherever they may lead, or as Yogi Berra would say, “When you come to a fork in the road, take it.” Hopefully we’ll stir some memories of northern Manitoba baseball days gone by.

The league itself existed in various forms over the years (circa 1956-66) and at one time included teams from Bowsman and Thompson. We’ll focus on approximately the 1960 era (give or take a year or so) when young eyes idolized the Junior Bombers by winter and our favourite Polar League baseball team by summer. By about this time, the Creighton Braves had folded and Flin Flon had two teams: the Ross’ Stylers and Johnny’s Cardinals. These guys played for fun – but were damn good players as well. Under different circumstances many could likely have made careers out of baseball. These were players dedicated to the game: good sportsmanship, no free agency, no draft picks, no wages, no steroids, just fun – how refreshing when one views the state of professional baseball today.

Foster Park

Let’s start at the epicenter of Flin Flon baseball at the time: Foster Park. This was no Fenway Park, but it did the job and had a history dating back to as early as 1935. A large muskeg area was drained to provide a recreational area that not only included baseball but skating, track and field, tennis and extravaganza events requiring space for large crowds. An official opening of the park, presumably in honour of Flin Flon’s fist mayor E.E. Foster, was scheduled for the 4th of September, 1939, but the event was pre-empted by the outbreak of World War II when Great Britain and France declared war on Nazi Germany on the third day of September.

The big – I mean big – problem with the ball diamond was flooding during a downpour, as the playing area was lower than the surrounding terrain. You can understand the frustration of a team from The Pas traveling over the old dusty and bumpy #10 Highway only to be rained out. Nonetheless, the field was the best we had, and was probably an engineering marvel in the ‘City Built on Rock’. There were, however, a few wrinkles – if you hit the ball out of the park on the right side of a power pole you had a double; hit on the left side, a home run. Good left hand batters knew this and milked it to the hilt. Remember the collateral damage? People parked their cars along Boam Street and the north end of the park. Many became victims of broken windshields and dented cars due to flying balls (as did nearby houses).

How about the shaky bleachers complete with press gallery – manned by the likes of Harry Miles of the Daily Miner, Tom Dobson of The Reminder, and Bernie Pascal or Carl Edmonds of CFAR. Sue’s Lunch was literally swamped during and between doubleheader games, and other enterprising individuals operated a catering van to fulfill the requirement for soft drinks, french fries, and the like. A strange, but innovative policy was the ‘ball-in’ system. You see, this league ran a tight budget, so any ball hit or tipped foul out of the playing field had to be recovered. The league hired older kids called chasers to recover these expensive items and throw them back on to the field for reuse while shouting “Ball in” during lulls in play. My friend (who shall remain nameless) and I devised a plan to get our hands on one of these souvenirs. The plan failed miserably as we neglected to consider that big kids run faster than little kids. Then there were the hat men, the guys who brought the hats around for silver collection to defray costs. I believe that the rule was kids under 12 were free, and suddenly every kid at the game was under 12.

The Officials

No officials, no league; it was that simple. These guys were outstanding, taking abuse on a regular basis, yet still they stepped forward. I have vivid memories of four of them in Flin Flon. Let’s start with early league days home plate umpire Ken Huffman, no strager to Flin Flonners. Ken was well ahead of his time. Balls were “NO” and “YES” was a strike; the really good strike pitches were “STEE” (baseball fans – does this sound like today?).

Next is Alex Huston, a great guy who also refereed SJHL/Bomber hockey. I knew Alex well, but I could never figure out why you would want to be screamed at both summer and winter. On to Jack Clark. Jack was a late comer to Flin Flon who lived a black or so down from our place in the new Lakeside area. He certainly knew his stuff and was a fan of “BAHH” for balls out of the strike zone and “STEE-RIKE” for good pitches. He was a neighbour of Cardinal player Al Mealy, and I once remember him calling out loud on a bad pitch, “What the hell are you doing swinging at that, Al?” (He later confessed to thinking out loud.) He was a good guy who helped out our little league team in Lakeside, which was sponsored by Frank and Elsie Schneider’s Grocery Store (another story). And last, but not by any means least, Alex Kennedy. Mr. Kennedy was a base umpire – and was he fast. The crowd marveled how he could always beat the runner from first base to second to make the call on a base steal.

Teams – Players and Stories

The teams at the forefront of these little eyes were the Ross’ Stylers, Johnny’s Cadinals and the dreaded The Pas TeePees. I had watched a couple of games in Creighton featuring The Braves with my dad and recall Kenny Marchant as the catcher of note as well as the ‘Smith Battery’. Ken was the pitcher and Claude the catcher. (Ken later told me that they had previously filled the same role in The Pas, where they had grown up loving baseball.)

The name that I recall for the Cranberry Portage Radar Kings is pitcher Lorne Lalashnick. The Cranberry team was closely linked to the Mid-Canada Line radar site and ceased as a team as the activity at the military complex was scaled down.

Johnny’s Cardinals, sponsored by Johnny Boychuk of Johnny’s Confectionery, was my team of choice. Why? Well, nice bird on the uniform. (Strategy is all-important in selecting a team of choice.) This was a good ball club with players such as Al Wheeler (pitcher), Bob ‘Lefty’ Remington (pitcher), Gerry Curle (pitcher), Len Sedgwick (catcher), Bob Quinn, Al Mealy, Vic Poirer, Al Evason, Myles Gillard, Ted Hampson, Ron Hutchinson, and Wayne Berg. As testament to the quality of the Polar League, Cardinal player Al Evason (the team’s leading hitter from 1964-66) was inducted into the Manitoba Baseball Hall of Fame in 2006. He had a brilliant career with other teams as well, including Dauphin, Bowsman and Thompson.

Ross’ Styler (formerly the Centrals of Central Motors, or what is now the Northland Ford dealership) sponsored by Ross’ Style Shop and Men’s Wear. They were another good ball club, always at their best when they had to be, with players such as Lee Fisher (pitcher), George Konik (catcher), Don Donaldson, Al Longmore, Al Hamilton, Rich Billy, Richie Goulden, Paddy Hamilton, Ken Klause, and Lloyd Young.

The Pas TeePees were a truly great team and were even inducted into the Manitoba Baseball Hall of Fame in 2005. These guys came to play every time and are/were fully deserving of credit. Players on the 1959 Polar League Championship team included Lynn Marlowe (pitcher), Bernie Lanigan (pitcher), Orest Strocel, Claude Kozik, Bill Donaldson, Cliff “Ticky” King, Ron Ewing, Brian McTaggert, Harvey Beach, Barry Rowley, Irv Snyder, Jimmy Demetruk, Stan Reid, Ron Cox, Hugh Turnbull, and Doug White. Many years later it was always a pleasure to reminisce about the Polar League with Cliff King at Art Johnson Men’s Wear in The Pas. Ticky was truly a great player and good sport; a credit to the TeePees and The Pas.

From the outset these were good people playing for the love of the game, always with intensity. The ‘big showdown’ (our version of the World Series) seemed to always be a Flin Flon team against The Pas TeePees. Sunday double headers were the norm, with teams alternating weekends in Flin Flon or The Pas. Team buses? Not in this league; no, the players and fans jumped into their cars and made the trip. The road trip to The Pas was a great adventure for youngsters; a stop at Caribou Bill’s in Cranberry Portage before reaching The Pas with its flat land with no rock. The huge Saskatchewan River and crossing over the bridge were exciting things, and the lush green ball park just outside of town was indeed impressive. (Yes, real grass as opposed to Foster Park clay.) If you were fortunate, the outing included a trip to the A&W to meet the burger family (Flin Flon didn’t have an A&W at the time). The series were always close, it seemed, and the rivalry was intense, with some over exuberant fans on both sides taunting The Pas boys as ‘hayseeds’ (farmers) and Flin Flonners as ‘gophers’ (miners going underground).

One particular incident at Foster Park stands out. The Cardinals were hosting the TeePees, with Al Wheeler on the mound for the Cards. Al was a very find pitcher, right up there with Lee Fisher of Flin Flon and Lynn Marlowe from The Pas, but he was not having a good day. (Or as Yogi would say, “It gets late early in the game when you are losing.”) Fans along the first line bleachers were heckling Al terribly, referring to him as “Chickadee Arm.” Finally Al had enough – he threw the ball in the direction of the hecklers, but over their heads. All hell broke loose, Wheeler was ejected from the game, and the matter was referred to the league commissioner, Gordie Martin. As I recall, Al received a two game suspension but the Cards went on to win the series; Flin Flon’s version of the Rocket Richard riot.

Another highlight was when the great Satchel Paige and his team came to Flin Flon on their exhibition tour. The Polar League boys formed a team to take them on, with the full knowledge that they would lose. As per usual, old Satchel came in to pitch in the last inning or so. He wound up as if he would throw a 90 mile an hour pitch – but it was a fake, a real softy designed to fool the batter. The only problem was that you didn’t fool this batter – big Don Donaldson. “Whack!” and it was gone for an easy double. As I have been saying all along, these Polar League guys were good! Another safe bet was the hit and run by two Cardinal starts, George Chigol and Len Sedgwick; if either were on third and the other batting it was a sure hit and run that usually worked, probably without any sign from the manager.

Yes, this was northern baseball at its finest with an intense rivalry, especially between Flin Flon and The Pas. Foster Park was our “Yankee Stadium” and we dared anyone to beat our boys (which the TeePees often did). It was a different era, less complex, when the game itself was bigger than any individual. These were the times when you wanted to kick the pants off your opposition, but if they were a player short, you would lend them one of yours for the sake of the game. Dugouts for the teams? Not likely – a rickety old bench would do. Gatorade for the players; nah, a pail of water with a big block of ice was quite sufficient.

We close this trip back in northern Manitoba baseball history with a short chat with a Flin Flonner who actually played in the Polar League – Bob Quinn. Bob played a couple of years with the Creighton Braves before moving on to the Cardinals for three years and is best remembered playing shortstop or second base. As fast as he was in the infield, he was quick to recall other Cardinals such as Joe Bocklage, Duane Rupp, Mel Pearson, Bobby McDowell and Gordie Waldmo.

When asked about memories Bob’s reply was, “It was a great league – lots of fun – and I enjoyed it very much. Too bad it’s gone. There was great camaraderie, but tough competition as well, especially with The Pas TeePees. The great thing was that all was forgotten in the post game get togethers between the teams… fun and laughter, which even included the much despised umpires of a few minutes earlier.” Being the gentleman that he is, Bob epitomized the class of players that were predominant in the Polar League.

Sadly, the Polar League faded away with time (in the late 1960s) and the ball park and bleachers went silent, but it sure was a great league while we had it. Now only fond memories remain, or as Yogi would say, “Nobody goes there anymore – it’s too crowded.”

Allie Walld – Manitoba Travel Project

Posted 26 March, 2007

Allie Walld
Class 3
Steve Vogelsang
Manitoba Travel Project
March 26, 2007

Field of Dreams, Angels in the Outfield, and A League of Their Own are all movies that devote their plot to the wonderful sport of baseball. But no film can create the feeling of nostalgia and awe like the Manitoba Baseball Hall of Fame & Museum (MBHOF) in Morden, Manitoba, and hour south-west of Winnipeg.

“Our mandate is to preserve and exhibit memorabilia from people and teams born in Manitoba or that played here. We want to preserve that heritage,” says Joe Wiwchar, the MBHOF’s museum administrative manager.

The MBHOF showcases pictures, uniforms, and other baseball gear from an enormous number of athletes that were born in Manitoba, or that have played here during their career. The museum owns so much memorabilia that certain pieces have to be shown on a yearly rotation. The Hall of Fame is home to many local athletes, including Dorothy Henderson, who was the basis of the main character in A League of Their Own.

The idea for the MBHOF came from Gladwyn Scott, who formed an incorporated baseball hall of fame and museum in an attempt to save the memories of the game. The town of Neepawa wanted the MBHOF, but so did Morden. Both placed bids and a vote revealed that Morden beat out Neepawa by one point. With that victory, the MBHOF was incepted in 1997. The first two banquets were held in Brandon, where several athletes were inducted. Once the MBHOF had collected enough memorabilia, it opened in June of 1999.

“Our selection committee makes an appeal at the banquest and on our website, asking if anyone has baseball memorabilia they want to donate. We’ll usually accept an item once we know where it’s from, who wore it, and what history it has,” says Wiwchar.

The MBHOF’s selection committee is in charge of dealing with the nominations. Any unsuccessful applicants are held on file for three years and if they’re not inducted by then, they’ll have to resubmit their nominations. Wiwchar adds that the nominees for the MBHOF come from all over.

And so do the spectator. Norman Plato, one of hundreds attending the 2007 Manitoba Planning Conference in Morden’s rec-centre, was visiting the MBHOF all the way from Lac du Bonnet.

“It’s my first time here and I think this (the MBHOF) is great for the whole area. It’s great for one little town to have this because the one at The Forks doesn’t have nearly as many displays,” says Plato, adding that the MBHOF helped him to revisit his days of baseball.

“I played for the Thalberg Eagles in the 1950s, with a dear friend, Bill Toews. His display is around the corner. It’s just awesome to see someone you’ve played with,” says Plato. “I’m coming back this August with my family to see the Hall of Fame. We’ll make a weekend of it.”

The MBHOF is open 7 days a week, 8am–9pm. Admission is free, but donations, which help the museum run year-round, are welcome.