The Mutcheson Family, Morden

Since the 1950s, members of the Mutcheson family of Morden have been prominent in baseball in Southern Manitoba and have made immense contributions to the sport’s popularity.

For his dedication over many years, Jim Sr was inducted into the Manitoba Baseball Hall of Fame in 1999. In 2009 he was inducted into the Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame. His wife Sylvia was a supporter of all sports played by the boys and coached minor baseball in Steinbach and Morden for a total of seven years. In the early 1960’s Jim and Sylvia were honoured as Morden’s Citizens of the Year.

Jim and Sylvia had six sons. All made their mark in baseball. As youngsters, several of them were part of age-group teams that represented Manitoba at Western Canadian of Canadian championships. Michael was an excellent outfielder in Junior ball for the Carman Goldeyes, then in Senior for Dauphin in the MSBL and Teulon in the Redboine League. Ray was an all-star second baseman, especially with Carman Goldeyes Juniors, with Carman and Teulon Seniors, and with all-star teams that between 1985 and 1991 won five provincial intermediate championships and three medals at Western Canadians. Jim Jr. was also a Carman Goldeye in Junior, and then he played Senior ball in Morden for several years before becoming a coach in minor ball and an umpire in the South Central League. Jack starred in centre field— first for Carman Goldeyes in Junior, then in Senior for many years with Morden—before he became an umpire who has worked many provincial and national championships. Between 1985 and 1991 he played with Ray on the league all-star teams that consistently won provincial intermediate championships. Joey was a perennial all-star at third base, with Carman Goldeyes Juniors, with Mayville State in U.S. college ball and with Morden in the Border League East. Matt was an exceptional player as a teenager and was part of three Team Manitoba Selects squads at Canadian championships. He went to Valley City College and Northern State University, and then had fourteen outstanding seasons in the MSBL with Birtle Blue Jays and Brandon Marlins. He was the MSBL Pitcher of the Year four times, MSBL Player of the Year three times, and Manitoba’s Senior AAA Player of the Year three times.

Team Manitoba Bison All-Stars 1981

In 1981 an all-star team was chosen to represent Manitoba in the Bison (18–19-year old) division. The Western Canadian championship was held in Emerson, with Emerson as the host team. Team Manitoba took the Emerson event and moved on to Sarnia, Ontario, and the Canadian championship. Their undefeated record through the early games meant that in the playoffs they had to be beaten twice by Quebec. Team Manitoba lost the first game but won the second when Gord Revel snagged a hot line drive for the final out.

Grosse Isle Blue Jays 1988–1993

Grosse Isle was part of an Interlake League which over the years included teams from Lundar, St. Laurent. Warren, Stonewall, Teulon, Balmoral, North Winnipeg, Springfield, and Vita. In three of the six years between 1988 and 1993 the Grosse Isle Blue Jays were champions of the League, and in two other years, they were finalists. The team won the Manitoba Senior AA championship in 1988 and represented Manitoba at Western Canadians in Kamloops. In 1994 they won the AA Senior title again. They were always tough to beat, especially at their home Atree Field. The team featured a strong pitching staff. It was managed by Art Essery and coached by Dan Cassils.

The Rivers Comets 1964–1969

In the six-year span from 1964 through 1969, the Rivers Comets won the South Central League championship five times. In the other year, they lost in the finals. In 1969 they went undefeated in all South Central League games, both regular season and playoff. Their perennial opponents in their league came from Boissevain, Elgin, Glenboro, Oak River, Treesbank, and Brandon. At tournaments, they played league teams, and many others as well, and won more than their share of games. In 1967 they won the silver medal at the Western Canadian championship tournament at Govan, Saskatchewan. The coaching staff included Wes Walker, Reid Spearin, Doug Stinson, and Call Allan.

Hamiota Red Sox 1986–1990

Over the five years from 1986 through 1990 the Hamiota Red Sox excelled in the MSBL.  They won the league regular season pennant three times.  They were league finalists four times and won two championships.  Eleven players were named to a first all-star team during the five years.  On four occasion the league’s top pitcher was from the Red Sox, on three occasions the play-off MVP, on one occasion the top hitter, and on one occasion the top rookie.  In 1987 two players set all time MSBL record: –Randy Robertson had 25 stolen bases, and Donato Salinas had 13 consecutive wins.  In 1989 the Red Sox had the highest winning percentage (.925) of any MSBL pennant winner.

Donnie Smith

Donnie Smith played with Legion 141 who won the Manitoba Junior Baseball championships in 1993-94, was named the Manitoba Junior Baseball league’s most outstanding pitcher in 1993-94. He played with the Birtle Blue Jays 1999. He pitched for the Winnipeg Goldeyes for 8 years. Played for the Stonewall Blue Jays 2007-8 were the Winnipeg Senior Champions. Upon his retirement he held the record for appearances in the Northern League (206), and records 15 wins, 28 saves, 3.22 ERA and struck out 246 batters in 246 innings. He is also 1 of only 3 Goldeyes to have had their number retired.

Iggy Scaletta

Iggy Scaletta played for Frank McComb’s Midgets in 1942, Stuart Travellers’ Juveniles in 1943, Norwood Seniors in 1944, the Navy: Halifax Senior League – Cornwalllis Team in 1945, the Rosedale Junior Champions in 1946, the Elmwood Seniors in 1947, the St. James Legion Senior Champions (and was also the M.V.P) in 1948, the St. Boniface Native Sons in 1949 & 51 (1951 Champions), and the Transcona – Senior Finalists in 1952. Scaletta coached Columbus Club Juveniles – City Finalists in 1947, umped Midget, Junior, Intermediate & Senior Baseball, and also umped the Pan Am Games; Ist base ump in final USA-Cuba game.

Ernie O’Dowda

Ernie O’Dowda ran Red River Valley Little League in Elmwood and East Kildonan with Alex Irvin 1952-55 and formed Little Canadian Baseball Association (LCBA) in East-Kildonan Elmwood areas as Secretary-Treasurer with Alex Irvin (President) 1956. In 1958 the LCBA expands to include Manitoba and NW Ontario and the first LCBA All Star Tournament took place. In 1973 he was inducted into Manitoba Baseball Association Honour Society and in 1976 he received Sports Federation award. O’Dowda has was president of Kelvin Community Centre for 27 years and was inducted into the Sports Hall of Fame as a lacrosse player in 1987.

Bill Nicholson

Bill Nicholson started working for C.N.R & playing with the Railroaders in 1938. He enlisted in the Navy in 1941-45 and played baseball & hockey when the ship came in for repairs. “Big Nick” (6’ 4”) pitched the Transcona Railroaders to Winnipeg Senior Baseball Champions in 1946, joined Reo Rods in 1947 & pitched Red Wreckers to Victoria Day crown at Osbourne Stadium before 5,000 fans. Nicholson led Reos to Red River Valley League title, he was referred to as Reos ace pitcher & the cream of the Canadian City’s baseball talent. Nicholson is also an excellent hockey and golf player.

Bill Nicholson Newspaper Article 1946

These articles are gathered from University of Manitoba Archives & Special Collections, Winnipeg Tribune Collection

John Lesyshen

John Lesyshen was a speedy centre fielder with the Dauphin junior & senior Redbirds (1957-68), he played in the Manitoba Senior Baseball League (1961-68), and was an inaugural M.S.B.L. champion in 1961. Lesyshen was a consistent .300 hitter with strong throwing arm, an unanimous 1968 all star with .338 average, and also a Redbirds M.V.P . He was an excellent hockey player with Edmonton Oil Kings who were National Junior finalists twice, received a four year scholarship with North Dakota Fighting Sioux, and spent one year coaching in Switzerland with the next 3 decades at Waterloo, Iowa as an educator.