1178 for publication August 25, 2016
I have a special place for baseball memories.
Not the travails of the Blue Jays in their present crisis, the kind of concerns I refer to as “the rest is up to you.” Such as running six starting pitchers, a novel idea whose time hasn’t come.
For me, I often go back to shelved scrapbooks, remnants of baseball games played and covered by writers and columnists of the day. It was my teenager wife-to-be who kept these scrapbooks, and it was teenage me who ebbed and flowed as a pitcher for the ANAF in the Lakehead Senior Baseball League.
I had briefly moved up from junior to senior ball for two games in ‘54, and in 1955, my eighteenth summer. Junior teammate pitcher Murray McKenzie and I made the “big” team that finished the season in first place, We were barely ahead of the Red Sox, and both teams survived to meet in the final.
The owner of the ANAF franchise was 23-year-old Alex Delvecchio, who coincidentally had just won his third Stanley Cup in four seasons. Another teammate and Red Wing of the day was first-baseman Dave Gatherum whose name also appears on the ’54 Stanley Cup. We often joked, out of earshot, that “Fats being the team owner, he plays where-ever he wants to,” mostly as the shortstop or second baseman.
Come to think of it Larry Cahan also played with us on the ANAF Juniors, and seniors, and would go on the play 13 years in the NHL.
We had two outstanding catchers, Maurice Gelmych and Pete Turchak. As a pitcher, standing on the mound, it’s just you and your catcher and I quickly learned to trust both. Gelmych was a force on either side of the plate, plus greyhound fast and won the league batting title hitting .418.
In fact the first four spots in the final League batting stats were all ANAF. Gelmych, then Gatherum .410, outfielder Bill Kurceba .361, and Delvecchio at .346.
On August 25, 1955, leading the final series two games to one, we would meet the Red Sox at the Port Arthur Stadium in game four. It didn’t go well, a 10-6 loss for us “Vets.”
The unknown game reporter, wrote “… it marked Brewitt’s second relief appearance of the series and this time the rookie lefthander remained around long enough to incur the loss.” An abrupt commentary written on the 4-and-a-third-inning salvage job I turned in that night.
This recall isn’t a testament to my pin-point memory, it’s attributable to the scrapbook story with the game batting order and summary.
Check these game names from the official lineup and game report: for the Red Sox, leading off was John Harpell 3b; Bill Bodak 1b; Walt Bradley 2b; Max Mekilok rf; Junior Giardetti lf; Bart Bradley ss; Alex Birukow cf; Cliff Poulin c; Jackie Andrews p; Bob Darcis 3b; Lorne Chenier rf.
For the ANAF: Norm Berglund lf, cf; Dave Gatherum 1b; Ab Onuliak cf, p; Alex Delvecchio, ss; Bill Kurceba rf, lf; Maurice Gelmych c; Larry Cahan 3b; Paddy Murro 2b; Murray McKenzie p; Ross Brewitt p; George Poulter 3b; Buck Kennelly lf, rf.
As for stats, I came into the game with two out in the third inning, and completed 4.1 innings at the end of the 7th; gave up 4 hits, posted 4 strikeouts, no walks, and was tagged with the loss, just so I’d remember it.
In another column from my past I’d also written about the close-out of that seven game series. We won the opener 6-2, lost the next 7-3, won 9-4, lost 10-6, and again 6-4. Down 3-2 at this point we rallied to win the sixth game 15-2.
But with our season-long ace, Ron Belluz, unable to shoulder the load he faced all year, we had little to offer in game seven, a crushing 13-0 blowout for the Red Sox.
One last note. Earlier that day of the final seventh game, I asked the girl who was keeping the scrapbook if she’d marry me. In June ’16 we celebrated our 60th anniversary.
It’s just another reason why I love baseball.