Once again the focus of the baseball community in Saskatchewan was on the town of Battleford as the Saskatchewan Baseball Hall of Fame welcomed its latest inductees.
A total of 13 individuals, three teams, one family and one community were welcomed into the hall in 2019. The newest members of the hall were celebrated at the annual banquet at Alex Dillabough Centre on Saturday night.
It was also a busy day of activities that included a noon hour luncheon at the Legion Hall in Battleford, as well as tours of the Saskatchewan Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum during the day.
According to the estimate from officials, about 500 people were on hand for the induction ceremonies, a significant increase over last year. The event is organized by Saskatchewan Baseball Hall of Fame CEO Jane Shury and numerous volunteers.
About 100 of them were connected to the Mendham Monarchs baseball team alone, including 42 former players. Not only was the team inducted on Saturday, but the team also held a reunion Friday night at the Tropical Inn to which 80 people showed up.
“Lots of stories were told and there were lots of laughs,” said Ron Hittel, a member of the Monarchs. “It’s been tremendous ball country for years. We’re very proud of our Mendham Monarchs for what they accomplished over all those years.”
Also making up a large portion of the audience were the several members of the Beck family, who have been active in baseball in the Lang area for many years, as well as members of the Mervin Legionnaires who won five straight titles in the late 1940s and early 50s.
Here is another look at the class of 2019 inductees to the Saskatchewan Baseball Hall of Fame.
The Late Dwayne Andreen, Saskatoon. Andreen played for the Saskatoon Commodores and later the Saskatoon Patrick Liners in senior play, winning the 1981 and ’82 Western Canada titles. His wife Shirley was on hand to accept his induction.
Don Anweiler, Saskatoon. Anweiller played with the Saskatoon Commodores and played and coached with the Saskatoon Windsors. One highlight was a game in which the Windsors, with Anweiler the leadoff batter, pounded out 28 hits in one inning and were awarded the game by mercy rule.
Gary Brotzel, Regina, is co- founder and president of the Regina Red Sox. He was one of three representatives from the Red Sox inducted Saturday night.
Sharon Clarke, Regina. Also involved with the Red Sox board, Clarke has been active for four decades in Regina baseball including within the Regina Baseball Association, Regina Optimist Baseball League and later the board of the Western Major Baseball League.
Bernie Eisworth, Regina. Co-founder and general manager of the Regina Red Sox and currently vice-president of the Western Canadian Baseball League.
Elmer Franks, Weyburn. Franks was a player with the Weyburn Beavers in the Southern league for years in the 1960s and helped revive the team in the early 2000s.
Don McIntyre, Wainwright, Alta. (Neilburg), was a standout player with Neilburg Monarchs, Unity Cardinals and North Battleford Beavers.
Ernie Moser, Mendham. Moser was a standout pitcher and third baseman with the 11-time champion Mendham Monarchs, who were also inducted in the team category.
Dean Pylypow, North Battleford. He played for the NB Junior ICT Beavers and the intermediate Beavers in the North Saskatchewan River League, amongst his lengthy involvement in the game.
The late Wes Reader, Lafleche. Reader played and coached baseball for over 70 years, including helping put together the Woodrow Indians who played in the 1940s and early 50s. His wife Leona accepted the honours.
Lawrence Sloan, Glaslyn. Sloan was a member of the five-time champion Mervin Legionnaires team, which was inducted in the team category. He later played for teams in Burstall, Weyburn and North Battleford.
The Late Bill Sobkow, Calder. Sobkow was the longtime general manager and coach of the Yorkton Cardinals of the WCBL. His wife Erna accepted the honour on his behalf.
In the team category:
Hyas Baseball Team, 1920-30s. Hyas. This powerhouse club played in the Northeast Saskatchewan League and won the title in the 1930s. Representing the team was Darrel Fiala.
Mendham Monarchs Baseball Team, 1951-1993, Mendham. The club, located in the RM of Happyland, was involved in the SaskAlta League and won 11 titles.
Mervin Juvenile Legionnaires 1948-1952, Mervin. Playing in the Turtle River Juvenile League, they won the title five years in a row.
In the family category:
The Beck Family from Lang. Their involvement in baseball in Lang and other communities spanned generations and continues to this day. Ray Beck accepted the plaque honouring the family’s involvement and also provided the inductees’ response on behalf of all the inductees to the hall this year.
In the community category:
The City of Weyburn, whose first recorded game was in 1901 and which has been home to several teams including the various incarnations of the Weyburn Beavers. The Negro League’s Kansas City Monarchs are believed to have stopped in Weyburn on their barnstorming tour of 1935.
Inductee Elmer Franks noted that Weyburn had some 400 kids enrolled in minor baseball this year, so “it’s always been strong there,” he said. Weyburn mayor Marcel Roy accepted the plaque on behalf of the city.
Recipient of the 2019 Saskatchewan Baseball Hall of Fame Scholarship Award:
Brooklyn Shaw, who has played and coached in La Ronge and is accepted into a pre-dentistry Bachelor of Science program at the University of Regina.
There was one last surprise inductee who had not been previously announced: Ferguson Jenkins, the 1971 Cy Young Award-winning pitcher who is the lone Canadian member inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown.
Jenkins was the guest speaker at the event Saturday night, and he regaled the audience with tales from his time in baseball and his encounters with such baseball luminaries as Leo Durocher and Billy Martin.
At the close of the induction ceremonies, inductor Dan Reynish turned to the audience and announced that Jenkins, too, was being inducted that night into the Saskatchewan Baseball Hall of Fame.
Jenkins, Reynish said, becomes “the only person on the planet who is in the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame, the major league baseball Hall of Fame and the Saskatchewan Baseball Hall of Fame.”
Bernie Eisworth, Regina Red Sox:
“First of all, we’re honoured, of course, and this is a big honour, and it’s not just for the work we did for the Red Sox. I coached for 20 years and also played before that. Sharon [Clarke] has been volunteering for 40 years in baseball and Gary [Brotzel] has been coaching for 20 years … It’s always good to get recognized for what you do in the community, and everything we did, of course, is for the community, so we’re pretty proud of that.”
Elmer Franks, Weyburn Beavers:
“It’s a wonderful honour to say the least, but I think the most important thing is the friends you meet through baseball. That’s the great part about it. I met a lot of friends here today and it’s sure nice to see them after 40 or 50 years.”
Ernie Moser, Mendham Monarchs:
“I’m being inducted, but so is our ball team which I coached for many, many years. I was fortunate to play with my brother, and my two sons and my dad. It’s all pretty exciting, we’re all getting inducted with the Mendham Monarchs ... A couple of months ago, I thought, whatever, this is just another night, but as it’s gotten closer it’s getting really exciting.”