March 25, 2017

History of Baseball in Vauxhall

Baseball was a very popular sport from the 1920’s and on. A lot of stories can be told, as baseball was a household word. The league then consisted of Retlaw, Enchant, Lomond, Rainier, Taber, and Vauxhall. Tournaments were the highlights and each team in the league held one during the year. This went on for several years, with Vauxhall winning their share.

Some of the players which are brought to mind (forgive any we missed) during 1930 to 1936 are Frank Sakatch (pitcher) Jack Horton (1 st base), F. Rudaford (2 nd base), Dean Nowlin (short stop), H. Taylor (3 rd base), B. Burke (center field), D. Bowers(left field), Barnes McCarley (left field), C. Stamp (right field), J. Webb (pitcher), and H. Cummings. Alva Martin was their coach.

During 1937-1938 players were Wilfred and Jerome McAndrews, Charlie Martin, Arnold Odland, A.Allen, F. Harris, Charlie Stamp, Doug Stevenson, Frank Sakatch and their coach was Hart Taylor.

In 1939 baseball was put on the back burner, as a lot of the boys put on uniforms and went overseas to defend our freedom.

In 1945 when the uniforms were put in moth balls, baseball was once again a Sunday event. In 1945 Harvey Blaney moved to Vauxhall and he had been a player with the Medicine Hat Tigers. He got involved and played until 1948. Some of the ball players then were Pete Brooks, Steve Hleucka, Bernard Head, Ed Hart, Harold Dalton, Rusty Owens, Roy and Dennis Cleland, Berne Baker, Harvey Blaney, John Lind and Alvin Dell.

In 1948 Doug Stevenson moved into Vauxhall and along with him, the players were Ted Kerkoff, Doug Erskine, Johnny Haugen, Howard Olson, Howard Jensen and A. Ohiro.

In the early 1950’s the Experimental Station came to the district, which brought in some very good young ball players. Thus, the Vauxhall Jets were born. They entered in one of the best amateur leagues in Southern Alberta – Brooks, Medicine Hat, Bow Island, Taber, Pincher Creek, Pass All-Stars and Lethbridge made up this league. Vauxhall won several times. The Jets entered the Provincials and were in the finals twice, winning in 1956.

In 1956 the Jets Stadium was built by the Vauxhall Jets, with the help of the Lions Club and a lot of great community support. It is one of the best ball diamonds in the south and has been well kept up by the clubs and people concerned.

The Jets played one more year, during which time some of the fellows felt Vauxhall was ready to move into a Pro League. They hired 15 players from U.S. Colleges and entered the Pro League. Ball was at its best bur the cost was too high and in 1977 the team folded. They were known as the best amateur ball team in Alberta. They played in most of the bigger tournaments and were always good ambassadors for Vauxhall and district.

Most of the players who built the ladder up to the Provincial Crown are: Harvey Blaney, Ted Kerkoff, Alvin Dell, Verne Baker, B. Stevenson, Howard Jensen, Doug Erskine, M. Wiggin, H. Olson, Roy Cleland, Dennis Cleland, J. Haugen, F. Anderson, M. Rhodes, Ken Blaney, D. Burbank and Mrs. D. Cleland (bat “boy”). Playing manager was Doug Stevenson.

In 1974 the Southern Alberta Junior Baseball League was formed. There were six teams originally: two from Calgary; one from Lethbridge; one from High River; one from Acme; and one from Vauxhall. Russ Parker was the key person that started this league and then he moved on to Triple A Baseball and is the founder and Principle Owner of the Calgary Cannons. Bob Miller was initially vice president and later ran the league for three years, after Russ Parker moved on. The League was for 21 years of age and under and gave players and opportunity to carry on after other levels. Teams that participated during the leagues existence are: Calgary Spikes, Calgary Giant, Lethbridge Miners, Lethbridge Lakers, Acme Pirates, High River Flyers, Vauxhall Jets, Medicine Hat, Olds and Red Deer.