By Bob Elliott
Canadian Baseball Network
In Latin America it is common custom to give the mother and father of a new born boy a baseball glove to place in his crib for good fortune.
Matt Barlow’s grandfather gave him the mitt he had used as a young man dominating diamonds in Summerside, around Prince Edward Island and throughout the Maritimes.
Barlow won’t be bringing his grandfather’s glove to Tournament 12 after being named to Atlantic Maroon final roster on Monday.
“He gave me that glove, I’ve always cherished it, it stays in my room,” said Barlow, “my grandfather has always been a big influence on me.”
The third annual tournament a showcase of high school-aged players from coast to coast involving eight teams begins Sept. 14 at the Rogers Centre. The event is becoming the most heavily attended gathering of talent for both college recruiters and pro scouts. The final spots were filled on each roster as Blue Jays Canadian scouting director Jamie Lehman, T.J. Burton of the Blue Jays academy and alumni helped in the evaluation process.
Barlow is an established player, earning Baseball PEI 2013 junior player of the year, he hit .400 at the nationals as a first-year bantam, went to the Canada Cup in Saskatoon and the national midget championships in Coaticook, Que. this summer. They were his ninth and 10th trips to nationals in his career.
While Barlow is a name on the Island, if you are “from away” make no mistake, his grandpa, Henry Landry, is more well known in PEI.
How is this for a man with a baseball reputation in his home province? When the lads gather at Queen Elizabeth Park in Summerside to play on what used to be called the Baseball Field, they now play on Legends Field. The park was renamed two years ago this month.
And Landry, Barlow’s grandpa, now 94, is one of the Legends. A monument near first base honors the late John K. Curran and Landry, plus the 1947 and 1948 Summerside All-Stars, winners of two provincial championships, one Maritime title and finalists in another Maritime championship.
Known as Mr. Shortstop, Landry, was a player, coach and manager from 1930 to 1968. He played than three Maritime intermediate championship teams, and coached a Maritime junior title. He was the first executive director of the Summerside Boys Club when it opened in the early 1960s.
“They took an old photo, made into a plaque, it stands maybe four or five feet high,” said Barlow who pitches and plays shortstop for his Summerside Chevys team and Team PEI. And in the fall he’s off to Dalhousie University to study the sciences, which he hopes will lead to pharmacy.
Right now with the Blue Jays winning and the Charlottetown Royals returning home this week with the province’s first medal at the nationals since 1977, it’s a good time for baseball on the Island.
“It was pretty cool to see that,” said Barlow after PEI knocked off Manitoba 7-5 in Vaughan, Ont., to claim bronze on the strength of Connor McGregor’s two-out, two-run double.
His own trips to the nationals didn’t go as well:
_ In Saskatoon, PEI went 2-4 beating Nova Scotia and Newfoundland by identical 10-0 scores and losing one-run games to New Brunswick (3-2) and Manitoba (8-7). He hit .316 with a pair of RBIs and was 1-0 with an 0.70 ERA walking two and fanning five in 10 innings. One of his best outings doesn’t show in the books. He pitched three scoreless and PEI was beating New Brunswick when lightening struck and the game was cancelled. When the game was replayed PEI lost ... “kind of like a heart break,” Barlow said.
_ In Coaticook, PEI went 3-3 knocking off Saskatchewan 8-4, Newfoundland 2-1 and Nova Scotia 5-2. Once again they were close losing two one-run games to Ontario (2-1) and New Brunswick (4-3). He batted .333 with three RBIs and on the mound was 0-1 with a 4.20 ERA walking four and fanning six in 6 2/3 innings.
Barlow began playing as a four-year-old, received the grandpa glove at age nine and won the Eastern Canadian peewee title in 2010 as the host team.
“We played Halifax and they’d beaten us pretty good the first two times we played them, pounded us by about 10 runs or so,” Barlow said. “We weren’t expecting much.”
Yet, the host Summerside team scored a 10-6 win and Barlow was at shortstop with 12 assists and four put outs, two hits to knock in a pair of runs and then finished up the final two innings on the mound.
Barlow is the son of Shelia and Gary Barlow. Mom works for Fitzgerald & Snow Ltd. construction in Summerside, while pop works at a waste water treatment facility.
We’d be remiss if we did not mention the names of Summerside all-stars a cross section of local players, World War II veterans and Air Force players from the nearby RCAF Station. A total of 28 players played on those two teams, which were selected from the Summerside Town League. For they along with Landry and Curran are part of the legends who made Legends Field
1947 – Gerard Bernard, Charlie Deighan, Henry Landry, Bob Schurman, Russ Phaneuf, Syl Bernard, Les Gaudet, Bill Allen, Jim Grady, Cecil Powell, Don Carson, Pete Mikus, Henry P. Gallant, Gill Williams, Urban Morrison, Wally Brawley, Dutch Underwood, David Silliphant (bat boy), Don Stewart (coach) and Herb Schurman (manager/president).
1948 – Gerard Bernard, Charlie Deighan, Henry Landry, Bob Schurman, Russ Phaneuf, Syl Bernard, Les Gaudet, Bill Allen, Jim Grady, Cecil Powell, Don Carson, Pete Mikus, Henry P. Gallant, Gill Williams, Dr. Bill MacMurdo, Ray Arsenault, Gordon MacKay, Frank Oatway, Roy Daley, Dee Lefurgey (bat boy), John W. McNeill (secretary/treasurer), Charlie Hogan (coach) and Herb Schurman (manager/president).