Mature Life Features

Cecil Scaglione, Editor

Babe Ruth’s Successor in Canada’s Baseball Hall of Fame

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Mill race near Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame

Story & photo by

Cecil Scaglione

Mature Life Features

ST. MARY’S, Ontario —- The chronicles of the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame have been cast in concrete.
The St. Mary’s Cement Co., which was founded in 1912 and is to Canadian cement what Louisville is to baseball bats, donated 32 acres of land for this museum-and-sports-field complex that opened in 1998.
The Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame opened 15 years earlier in Toronto but was dispossessed in 1989. It had been housed in the American League Toronto Blue Jays’ original home in the lakefront Canadian National Exhibition stadium but didn’t make it into plans for the team’s new home – the massive Skydome built in the lee of the CN Tower, the world’s tallest free-standing structure looming over Lake Ontario.
We stopped by this hidden gem a couple of hours east of Toronto while touring Southern Ontario to dip our toes in the three Great Lakes that lap these shores – Huron, Erie and Ontario.
The sports memorabilia includes the bat used by Babe Ruth to clout his first professional home run during a 1914 game in Toronto. Ruth hit that homer while playing for Providence and it was the only round-tripper he hit in the minors.
One of the Canadian inductees is George Selkirk, who replaced the Babe as the New York Yankees’ right fielder in 1934. He played on five World Championship teams and was a four-time American League All-Star during his nine years with the Bronx Bombers.
Among the more renowned is Fergie  Jenkins, who had six consecutive 20-win season with the Chicago Cubs. His 1971 Cy Young award for National League pitcher of the year is on display here. Ferguson Arthur Jenkins, who is also among the luminaries inducted into baseball’s Mecca in Cooperstown, N.Y., was born and raised in Chatham, Ontario, about 50 miles east of Detroit and a major terminal on the underground railway used by slaves fleeing the United States.
Also memorialized here is Jackie Robinson, who played for the Montreal Royals, a Brooklyn Dodgers farm club, before he broke the color barrier in the major leagues.
This bustling industrial town also produced Arthur Meighen, who was prime minister of Canada during the early 1920s, and Timothy Eaton, who launched a coast-to-coast department-store empire.
And it was a brief stopover for Thomas Alva Edison, who worked as an itinerant junior telegrapher for Western Union in his teens.
While many communities lay claim to this vignette, the local version focuses on his inventive bent during his brief career as the night telegraph operator in the town’s first railway station. To prevent night operators from sleeping on the job, they were required to tap out “six” every half hour. He invented a device that automatically sent out the code when a crank was turned and he slept while the night watchman turned the crank every 30 minutes.
One night a message came through to hold a train in a passing track. Edison failed to relay this message to the train crew. Fortunately, the engineers saw each other’s train in time to stop. And the young man slipped out of town before the subsequent inquiry was completed.

Mature Life Features, Copyright 2003

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Written by Cecil Scaglione

October 3, 2013 at 11:07 am

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