By Danny Gallagher
Canadian Baseball Network
Looking to brush up on your knowledge of baseball history in Canada?
Head to St. Marys, Ont., specifically the St. Marys Golf and Country Club for the second annual Canadian Baseball History Symposium being organized by SABR member Andrew North that will be held on Nov. 18 and 19.
On tap are numerous presentations, which will delight baseball history buffs over the course of one and a half days.
For example, Robert K. Barney and Barbara Weis, will bring forth an interesting project: A Further Nail in Doubleday’s Coffin: Johann Friedrich GutsMuths and the Dissolution of ‘Base-Ball’ to Europe, 1796. In this presentation, Barney and Weis will further review the myth of Abner Doubleday being the inventor of baseball. It's a myth embedded in American history. The duo will talk about the concept that the fundamentals of baseball were part and parcel of an English children's past-time going back to at least the 1600s.
John Cairney will return as a presenter with another exciting installment in his series. Last year, he talked about nine strikes to retire the side. This year, he's talking about the three-pitch inning. Imagine anyone retiring the side in one inning with only three pitches. Blue Jays icons Roy Halladay and Jimmy Key have done it as have Montreal Expos Steve Kline and Felipe Lira. Obviously, there is no patience on the part of the batters.
Dipping into the realm of baseball and entertainment, Warren Campbell will give a brief synopsis of players in Vaudeville and Hollywood, who found a way to produce a second income. Campbell will look at a number of Blue Jays and Expos, who have appeared in commercials. I'm assuming Campbell will make mention of current Jay Aaron Sanchez, who has become a Westjet mouthpiece in those silly commercials.
Stephen Dame studies Canadian baseball during the Great War of 1914-18 and will make note of the many members of the army, navy and air force such as future Prime Minister Lester Pearson who played before royalty, drew audiences of more than 70,000 and beat their American rivals. Interesting feature for sure.
Acclaimed historian Bill Humber steps to the plate with his rendition of Bob Addy, whom he calls the "lost soul of Canadian baseball history.'' Humber titles his project The First! Introducing the Mercurial, Malicious, and Masterly World of Robert (Bob) Addy.
"Bob Addy has been hiding in plain sight but it took SABR sleuth Peter Morris to recently confirm Addy’s Canadian identity, his Port Hope birth and upbringing, and the roots of the tinsmith profession he never abandoned,'' Humber wrote in his abstract.
Talking about The Drive of ‘85 - The 1885 Canadian League is Martin Lacoste. He traces the history behind the league and does an overview of the more than 30 players who were or became major leaguers.
In a similar type vein, Chip Martin tackles William Watkins and the Detroit Wolverines of the late 1800s. Watkins is believed to be the most successful Canadian baseball manager of all time.
David Matchett, who has done a ton of explorative research of various Canadian baseball history topics over the years, weighs in with 'What is a Canadian'?
"This is a seemingly simple question, but it isn’t, and it comes up while researching the history of baseball in Canada,'' Matchett writes in his abstract. "Some players who were born in Canada emigrated soon thereafter and others born abroad moved to Canada before they could walk. Ongoing research can uncover an old census record that converts an American or removes someone else from the list of Canadians.''
With Matchett acting as moderator, there will be a panel discussion about Matchett's topic involving Humber and Larry Millson.
Michael Murray will test your trivia knowledge. His questions will deal with photographs from his personal collection. Subject matter will span from 1871 to the present and prizes will be up for grabs.
The other two presentations will involve Quebec. Fred Toulch zeroes in on Montreal Royals vignettes. In his talk, Toulch makes a point of giving credit to some of the lesser-known Royals' personnel.
Then there's Bill Young, whose project is Last Stop: Baseball’s Mexico-Jumpers Find Redemption in Quebec. Young alludes to 22 discontented major leaguers, drawn by promises of great riches and ever greener pastures, who bolted to Mexico for the 1946 season. He talks about what happened to the players afterward when they found their way to Quebec in the wake of a suspension by commissioner Happy Chandler.
Miriam Wright, Dave Johnston and Heidi Jacobs will chat about the possibilities and challenges of researching early Canadian baseball. Specifically, the trio of experts discuss Breaking the Colour Barrier: Wilfred (Boomer) Harding & the Chatham Coloured All-Stars Project.
You can get more information about the second annual Canadian Baseball Symposium from North by emailing him at firstname.lastname@example.org.