Monday, November 29, 2010

Play Ball

For Canadian baseball fans, it has been a busy time since the Giants won the World Series.

It started with Alex Anthopoulos of the Toronto Blue Jays naming John Farrell as the new manager. Then, Joey Votto from Etobicoke, a suburb of Toronto, received 31 of 32 first-place votes, and was named the National League MVP.

He became the third Canadian to capture the award, following in the footsteps of Larry Walker (Maple Ridge B.C.) and Justin Morneau (New Westminister B.C.).

At the outset of 1950, Canadian baseball news was limited to minor-pro leagues across the land. On January 11, 1950 there was news for both the Canadian baseball and hockey enthusiast.

It was announced that Howie Meeker of the Toronto Maple Leafs would be joining the Kitchener Legionnaires of the Senior Intercounty Baseball League. In the summer of 1950 Meeker would play third base and be the right-hand man of manager Bobby Schnurr. In his coaching position, Meeker would be replacing Carl Fischer. In the major leagues, Fischer pitched for 5 teams (including the Detroit Tigers) between 1930 and 1937.

Meeker and Bobby Schnurr were old friends who played shinny together on a lake in Kitchener Park. During the 1949-50 hockey season, Schnurr was playing for the Tulsa Oilers in the United States League.

The NHL season in '49-50 called for each team to play 70 games. Meeker a small (5'8" 165 pounds), but sturdy right winger, played in all 70 games and 1 playoff series for the Leafs. It was a tough playoff defeat for Toronto who won back-to-back Cups in 1947 and 1948.

At the conclusion of the hockey season, Meeker was set to turn in his hockey gloves for a baseball mitt. Unfortunately for baseball fans in Ontario, the management of the Leafs had other plans.

On May 15, 1950 came news that "Hurricane Howie" Meeker would not be donning cleats for the Legionnaires. On advice from team doctors, Meeker was instructed to rest over the summer and refrain from strenuous physical activity.

I wonder if Joey Vitto can play hockey? Better still, would the Cincinnati Reds let him play?

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