I’m extremely proud to say I was a smallish-yet-reliable 12-year old second baseman and shortstop (I’m bottom row, third from right) for this Orillia peewee all-star team.
We took on all comers, including big-city Toronto teams, and we whupped them all. According to the year-end banquet program, we won 38 games and lost four. We won five championships during the season, including the Prince Edward Trophy, The Lions Trophy, District E Championship, Provincial Legion Championship, and Police Association Trophy. We were also Ontario Baseball Association finalists, losing to Windsor in a stressful and tight game.
Our small-town gang defeated several all-star teams from Toronto, Hamilton, St. Catherines, and many others. I remember Hall of Fame goalie Gerry Cheevers umpiring one of our games in St. Catherines.
On three occasions we played and won three games in one day and on four occasions, two games. We travelled approximately 3500 miles in the season, and in the O.B.A. series, we defeated Owen Sound 36-10 in three games, Newmarket 17-1 in two games, and Cobourg 33-2 in two games. In the finals against Windsor we lost in the third game after three extra innings.
After one championship a fire truck met us on the outskirts of Orillia and brought us into town with sirens blaring. We also had a parade with two to a convertible, and were brought to the Mayor’s chambers where she presented us with individual pen sets, mine of which is long gone.
Several of the guys are dead now, at least one is a multi-millionaire, one lost a leg in a construction accident, one is in Whitehorse, and one, John French (catcher) would go on to become property of the Montreal Canadiens before bolting to the W.H.A.
Cliff Yeo, our stern, no-nonsense manager, was a chain smoker with yellow hands and teeth, but he knew his baseball and we won because of him. After a game in Windsor he caught several of us, including me, smoking cigars at the back of the bus, but he said nothing. Maybe because he was such a lover of tobacco himself.