The Toews Family

The Inductees from the Toews family of Plum Coulee include Ron, Garry, Brian, and Bill Toews and their father Peter Toews.

Peter Toews coached the Plum Coulee Pirates, where he was known as Mr Baseball, for many years. He coached the Senior team, many of whom were 20 years or younger, and was intramental in many of the players development. All four of his sons became strong players as well.

Ron Toews was a pitcher/shortstop for many different Manitoban teams including the Plum Coulee Pirates Senior Baseball team, the Plum Coulee Junior Team, with Winkler for the Manitoba Juvenile Provincials (which they won), the Brandon Cloverleafs, and the St. Agathe Bisons for the 1970 Canadian Nationals.

Garry Toews also played on many various teams including the Plum Coulee Little League Team, the Pembina North All-Stars, various bantam teams, the Brandon Manco Kings Junior Baseball Team, and the Carman Goldeyes Junior Baseball Team (inducted into the Manitoba Baseball Hall of Fame in 2004).

Bill Toews played first base for Plum Coulee, Miami, Notre Dame De Lourdes, and the Winnipeg Knights. One of the highlights of his baseball career is the two games in which he hit 3 home runs at 3 consecutive bats for each game.

Brian Toews played first base with the Plum Coulee Pirates Senior Baseball team, and the Plum Coulee Junior team.

Elmwood Junior Giants 1978–1980

The Elmwood Junior Giants won three consecutive Manitoba junior championships and after winning Manitoba in 1978 they took Western Prarie Regional title and competed in National championship in Surrey, BC.

In 1979, after the Manitoba victory they went 1-3 at Western Canadians, and in 1980 after Manitoba, they moved on to Western Canadians and finished second.

Coached by Al Kinley, Bob Kinley, Gord Menzies, Dave Olsen, and Bev Fisher.

Players on all three teams were Carey Candy, Randy Ladobruk, Glen Hunter, Ken Johnson, Jerry Kollesavich, Barry Muckosky, Jim Paton, and Roger Weisner.

Snowflake 1948–1952

The Snowflake team won four straight Border League titles from 1948-51 and were finalists in 1952.

The team was also very prominent in tournament play in southern Manitoba in the later 1940s and early 1950s.

A highlight of the team was a victory in a big Morden July 1st tournament. The team was led by Dave Harms, Ralph Motheral, and Kitch Handford.

Lyleton 1955–1960

Lyleton dominated the Southwest League and western Manitoba tournament play for half a dozen years.

The team ran an annual Dominion Day tournament which still flourishes.

Lyleton featured five Murray brothers, and Barry Edgar, Ted Gardner, and Ollie Pateman. Other driving forces of the team included Ted Waiser and Cecil Murray.

Brandon Greys 1948-1951

The Brandon Greys, who played as a part of the Manitoba Senior League and the Mandak League from 1948 to 1951, were symbolic of the colourful and pulsating excitement of Baseball in Manitoba following World War 2.

Even though Jackie Robinson broke the Major League colour barrier in 1947, there were hundreds of players still playing in the Negro Leagues in the United States – some came to Canada and to Brandon. 1948 marked Brandon’s return to the Manitoba Senior League. The backers of the Greys hired Ian Lowe of Bradwardine as player/manager of the team. They also secured some of the best players in Western Manitoba – like Gerry MacKay, Steve Clark, Frank Watkins, Jack Sinclair and also added Tony Tascona from Winnipeg. Most importantly, the Executive of the Greys turned a good club into a potential Championship Team by the signing of players from USA and Cuba, like Armando “Bus” Vasquez, Dirk Gibbons, Coney Williams, Rafe Cabrera, Ramon Rodriquez. A dream team may only be on paper but it was the leadership of Ian Lowe who “cast the mould” to turn the Brandon Greys into a League and Tournament threat for the next four years.

The Brandon Greys entertained and thrilled large crowds, which ranged from 4000 to 6000 and they raised their fans level of excitement and passion for the game. Young players began to emulate their heroes and the enthusiasm for baseball was contagious throughout Manitoba.

The team won three of four Provincial Championship from 1948 to 1951. In 1950, they were runners-up to the Winnipeg Buffaloes. The most impressive year of their four-year run was in 1949 where the Greys played 108 games in 113 days and had a record of 87 wins, 18 losses and 3 ties. They won the Provincial Championship in 15 innings (2 – 1) over the Elmwood Giants before a crowd of 5200 at Kinsmen Stadium. Frank Watkins of the Greys and the Giants Lefty Hal Price hooked up in a fantastic pitching dual. To add to the hysteria of the game, pitcher Watkins won the game with a single down the 3rd base line to score Rafe Cabrera for the winning run.

In 1949, the Greys won six Tournament Championships out of nine entered, winning the Prestigious Indian Head, Saskatchewan Tournament which attracted 27,000 over 3 days of competition. The Brandon Greys were truly a “dream team” from 1949 to 1951.

Frank Watkins

Frank Watkins lived in Reston before World War Two, and enlisted from there in the Canadian Army. Returned from the War and excelled as a pitcher with Reston, Grandview, Brandon Greys, and Souris Cardinals. He was league All Star in 1948 through 1951 while playing with Brandon Greys. In 1949 he was 17-3, and in the final game against Elmwood Giants before 5200 fans at Kinsmen Stadium, he pitched all 15 innings and singled home the winning run in a 2-1 nail-biter. The only run scored off him was by Solly Drake, later with the Chicago Cubs. He pitched for Souris Cardinals in 1953 and 1954 when they won the Central Manitoba Baseball Championship.

Armando Vasquez

Armando Vasquez was primarily a pitcher, but could also play the field and bat. Vasquez played in US Negro leagues with Cincinnati, Indianapolis, New York as well as Cuba, Mexico, and Panama. Vasquez came to Brandon in 1948 and had five great seasons with Brandon Greys. In 1949 Armando was 12-1. He helped Brandon Greys win the Manitoba Senior League Championships in 1948 and 1949 as well as the Manndak League Championships in 1951. Vasquez was an entertaining performer who was an “impact” player both offensively and defensively. Armando was also recognized for baseball contributions by former US president Bill Clinton and former New York Rudy Giuliano.

Barry Swanton

Barry Swanton played, coached, managed, administered, and promoted baseball for more than fifty years. He was shortstop and leadoff hitter for many Hamiota teams, and all star at second base for the North division in 1955 in the Manitoba Midget League while playing for CUAC Blues. He was starting center fielder in the 11th annual Tribune Junior league All Star game at the Winnipeg Stadium. Swanton was a founding member of the North Winnipeg Minor Baseball Association. He coached with CUAC or Legion 141 teams for four years. He researched and wrote short histories of Winnipeg Goldeyes, Winnipeg Maroons, and the ManDak League. He also wrote a book in 2006 on the ManDak League as a haven for former Negro League players. Swanton was MBA Vice-President of competition for four years, 1984-1987.

Denny Smith

Denny Smith was a very good shortstop and lead off hitter for Hamiota teams of 1950s and 1960s. He was Part of four Hamiota Manitoba championship teams at Bantam / Juvenile/ Junior levels 1955 – 1958. He was also part of teams that won MSBL pennants in 1961, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1967, and which won three MSBL play off titles in 1962, 1963, and 1964. He coached numerous Hamiota and Westman teams, 1972-1988, including six provincial championship teams in different age categories. Smith coached two silver medal teams at Western Canadian championships (1972, 1981).

Bill Siddle

Bill Siddle was an outstanding pitcher and shortstop with the Winnipeg Arenas from 1917 to 1928. He was selected as the shortstop on Manitoba’s 20th century all star team. Siddle was consistently among the leader in both hitting and stolen bases in the Winnipeg senior league of the 1920s. In 1929 he toured with the House of David baseball team. In the 1930s he umpired many league games and exhibition games in Winnipeg. He called balls and strikes in a famous 1-0 game when “Satchell” Paige struck out 17 for Bismarck to beat Chet Brewer who whiffed 13 for the Kansas City Monarchs.