On Roberto Clemente Day, I take a look back at Clemente's first pro season with the Montreal Royals and the legend's other Canadian links.
When Roberto Clemente's plane carrying relief supplies to Nicaragua crashed 50 years ago today, down with it went the hearts and spirits of the thousands Clemente managed to touch during his short life.
Roberto Clemente with the Montreal Royals in 1954. Photo: Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame September 15, 2022 By Kevin Glew Cooperstowners in Canada When historians talk about baseball legends with connections to Canada early in their career, they often mention Babe Ruth who hit his first professional regular season home run in Toronto or the... Continue Reading →
By Kevin Glew Cooperstowners in Canada You wouldn’t believe the stories this retired cabinetmaker can tell you. Like how he hated throwing batting practice to Roberto Clemente, because almost everything the free-swinging outfielder hit went right back “through the box.” Or about how he shared a spring training complex with Jackie Robinson. “Vero Beach (the... Continue Reading →
Montreal Gazette reporter Dink Carroll referred to Homer "Dixie" Howell as "the prodigal son." The description was apt when you consider that Howell played parts of six seasons, in four separate stints, with the Montreal Royals. No matter where the likeable catcher traveled during his lengthy professional baseball odyssey, his road always seemed to point... Continue Reading →
Jesse Owens is the only person that could beat Jack Cassini in a foot race. At least that's what the former Montreal Royal told the Arizona Republic in an interview in March 2008. "I could hit, and I could run like hell," Cassini told the paper. The ex-big leaguer was 88 when he made this... Continue Reading →
"He was not a star, but a nova, appearing, flaring and disappearing . . . " Roger Kahn, The Boys of Summer It would be difficult to describe Joe Black's major league career more accurately and eloquently than Kahn did in his acclaimed 1972 book about the Brooklyn Dodgers. After toeing the rubber in... Continue Reading →
[twitter-follow screen_name='coopincanada'] It's not easy being a prospect when the player you're touted to replace is a perennial all-star and fan favourite. That's the position that Humberto "Chico" Fernandez found himself in after he was signed by the Brooklyn Dodgers as a 19-year-old in 1951. Once the slick-fielding shortstop was in the Dodgers' system, it... Continue Reading →
His first professional baseball contract was signed in a quintessentially Canadian setting. New Brunswick native Billy Harris was competing in a hockey tournament in Buchans, Nfld., when Brooklyn Dodgers scout Bill O’Connor secured the stocky 19-year-old’s signature on a piece of paper. Although the five-foot-seven Harris was a standout stickhandler, it was his right arm... Continue Reading →
When I worked at the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in St. Marys in 2008 and 2009, I found myself fascinated with a 1954 Montreal Royals team photo. From 1939 to 1960, the Royals were the Triple-A farm team of the Brooklyn Dodgers, so baseball immortals like Jackie Robinson, Duke Snider, Roy Campanella and Don... Continue Reading →