t’s mid-September and a championship is on the line.
Through seventeen innings, game five of this best-of-seven series has offered high baseball drama for the shoulder-to-shoulder fans in attendance.
The Buffaloes’ youthful players “Butch” Davis and John Irvin Kennedy were eventually signed by the MLB’s St.
Louis Browns organization, finding spots on minor league teams.
Rosters featured black players, as well as Latinos with skin complexions too dark for Major League team owners to tolerate.
(Jay-Dell Mah Collection, courtesy of Tazena Kennedy) “People don’t really think about what happened after Jackie Robinson integrated baseball, beyond that the race barrier disappeared and the Negro Leagues started to decline,” says Leslie Heaphy, a history professor at Kent State University who has written and edited six books on baseball. They didn’t get a chance to play in the Majors, so many of them – way more than people think – went up to Canada.” Most Americans know little about the rich baseball history of Canada.Mah, who remembers no black families in his hometown when he was growing up in Lloydminster, Saskatchewan, says, “Canadians got used to integrated play pretty quickly.” Back east in 1946, Jackie Robinson played one season for the Dodgers’ minor-league affiliate, the Royals, based in Montreal, leading the league in batting.The Montreal fans’ love for the sporting trailblazer was most apparent after the last game of the year, when the Royals won the league championship.He’s already worked out of a bases-loaded crisis in the eighth, then in the fourteenth inning, a sharp throw home from second base, nailing a speeding runner, bailed Day out.After all that, Day doesn’t want to let down his manager Willie Wells, who was ejected from the game in the tenth inning for relentlessly arguing a call at first base.
(In 1914, a nineteen-year-old Babe Ruth hit his first professional home run while playing a road game in Toronto.) Meanwhile, the western prairie region of Canada was gradually being settled, spurred on by the Dominion Lands Act, which, similarly to the United States’ Homestead Act, provided land to settlers for a small fee if they agreed to develop and improve upon it. Jay-Dell Mah, who co-wrote a book with Barry Swanton titled , says, “Tons of baseball leagues started to form, just about everywhere you went, all through the prairies.” Canada’s black population was still miniscule, but as Western Canadians became baseball-crazy over the next few decades, African American ballplayers went north during Negro League off-seasons to play in exhibition games and tournaments – a practice called “barnstorming” – usually against all-white local teams.