Nucleus of baseball in Lloyd

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August 11, 2016 12:00 AM

The 1909 Lloydminster ball club. The Border City has a deep, rich history with the game.

“All a winning baseball pitcher has to do is to fire away across the plate and be sure to miss the bat.” 
This was front-page strategy offered in the Lloydminster Times on June 18, 1907. 
Although skill and strategy have a lot to do with winning games and having fun, there is a team depth to the game of baseball. 
Lloydminster has a flourishing past and present history on the ballfield. 
Lured by substantial money, some of our past players went down south to play in the big leagues.
Introduced to the Barr Colonists in 1906 by settlers from Eastern Canada and the United States, a baseball club was formed and the nucleus of baseball was born. 
Held in July, the first tournament saw teams from Lloydminster, Marshall, and Rat Creek. 
The prize money for first place was $50 and for second $25.
In April 1907, the Baseball Club held a meeting to elect officers for the year. 
A league formed with Marshall, Lashburn, and other clubs of which the leading team would play the winners of the Western League.
The players wore grey and blue uniforms while on the field.
Over the ensuing years, Lloydminster joined up with various leagues in either Alberta or Saskatchewan. 
At the annual Sports Day in 1915, with Lloydminster’s population of 600, fans numbered nearly 400. 
Eager fans came from the east arriving at midnight and from the west arriving at 4:30 a.m. 
Accommodations were limited and the Drill Hall was used as a dormitory.
The provincial boundary sparked a natural rivalry between the village and the town of Lloydminster once again.  Teams formed on either side of the border. 
The invitational Lloydminster Exhibition Tournament was an important sports event from 1918 -1953. 
Teams had a problem keeping traffic off the racetrack as most of the games were played at the exhibition grounds. 
Reportedly, some “rebel” would be racing an automobile around the track during the game. 
Eventually a home run fence complete with corporate signage was built, but had to be taken down as it blocked the view for the fans watching the horse racing. 
Most of the area school districts formed a team and hosted a tournament dependent upon the weather. 
The Calgary Pucksters, a ball team made up of professional hockey players, came to Lloydminster in the mid-1930s to play a winning game against the Neilburg Allstars.
Baseball somewhat faded in the late 1930’s due to low finances; players could not always get time off work and, as everyone wanted to play, coaches and managers were a challenge to find. 
When the Second World War came, the faces of baseball changed as players were now suiting up in military uniforms. 
The Oilers baseball team formed after the war was over (1946) with imported players to work mostly in the oil industry. 
Some had pro experience. 
This skilled team had challenges working around the players’ shifts, but was a team with true depth. 
The townsfolk decided Lloydminster could easily support a professional team as proven by its dedicated fans.
The Legion Ballpark eventually built on Highway East helped to bring this to reality.
With prize money of over $2000, the Lloydminster Canadian Legion sponsored an inaugural major two-day tournament in 1949. 
Broadcast on radio and covered by national newspapers, 16 teams from across Canada competed.
Observed as a holiday by Lloydminster and surrounding towns, planned activities included a parade, wrestling and boxing bouts, military bands, evening dances, and outside movies on Main Street. 
This was the largest prize ball tournament held in the Dominion with an estimated crowd of 15,000 on the second day.  RCMP brought in five detachments to assist with law enforcement.
At the end of the tournament a draw was made for a new Ford car, tickets sold for $1 each.
Delisle won the event, defeating Kamloops 12-1 in the final.
Baseball players, similar to other sports figures, often find themselves compared to previous players who established standards of achievement spanning generations.
Resources may have been limited, however, inspired by their passion for the game, our pioneers successfully promoted this timeless game pitching the ball over the plate season after season.

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