Back Row: Ernie Montgomery, Bus Vasquez, Thad Christopher, Gerry MacKay, Coney Williams, Ron Reynoldson, Steve Wylie, Ian Lowe, Bob Sumner
Front Row: Ralf Cabrera, Frank Watkins, Al Truelove, Jerry Montgomery (bat boy), Jack Sinclair, Tony Tascona, Steve Clark
Missing Members: Don Gardner, Dirk Gibbons, Ross Pollock
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.