On Victoria Day, 1933, Edmonton opened its second and longest-serving professional baseball stadium.

View from the short port in right field, Renfrew Park, 1933. Grand Trunk Pacific Railway’s Hotel Macdonald lies in the background. Image via the Provincial Archives of Alberta.

On May 24, 1933, a new baseball stadium opened in Alberta’s capital. A couple blocks south of Diamond Park — the home of Edmonton professional baseball since 1907 — on the Ross Flats Football Grounds, Renfrew Park was a 3,500 seat stadium designed by Henry Roche and future NHL President Clarence Campbell.

The game featured a matchup between the rival South Side Arctics and Royals of the senior league. The first pitch was thrown out by Attorney-General John Lymburn to Edmonton Mayor D.K. Knott (it was a ball). The Rajah of Renfrew himself, John Ducey, was the umpire. …

“1,000 frenzied capitalists” witness Edmonton’s first professional baseball game.

View from the stands at Diamond Park during the opening day game between the Saskatoon Quakers and Edmonton Eskimos, 1910. Image via the Provincial Archives of Alberta.

On May 30, 1907, the first professional baseball game was played in Edmonton, Alberta. Played at Diamond Park, which also opened that day, the home team beat the visiting “Cow Pokers” from Calgary 9–8 (the game was called because of darkness with one out in the top of the 9th). The Edmonton Legislators and Calgary Chinooks* were part of the four-team Western Canada League, along with the Lethbridge Miners and the Medicine Hat Gaslighters. It was Class D baseball, which in modern terms would be equivalent to Rookie League baseball.

Helen Nicol was an Albertan star of American baseball.

Helen Nicol. Photos via East Valley Tribune.

Most people are familiar with the 1992 baseball film A League of Their Own, about the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League (AAGPBL). Directed by Penny Marshall, the movie stars Geena Davis, Madonna, Rosie O’Donnell, Lori Petty, and Tom Hanks.

Even avid baseball fans from around these parts might not know, however, that one of the AAGPBL’s greatest stars, Helen Nicol (married name Helen Fox, and nicknamed Nickie Fox) was from Alberta. I didn’t, either, until reading this excerpt in Brant E. Ducey’s The Rajah of Renfrew: The Life and Times of John Ducey:

“Travelling with her at the time…

The 1951 Sakatoon 55s. Gordie Howe is in the front row, far right. Photo via At The Plate

Amidst all the stories about Gordie Howe the hockey player that were shared today, following his death at age 88, I was pleased to see some mention of Gordie Howe the baseball player. Howe began his career with the Detroit Red Wings on October 16, 1946, scoring the first of his 801 career goals in his first NHL game. But Howe also enjoyed baseball, and spent his summers from 1947–1953 playing semi-pro ball in Saskatchewan.

1947–50: Saskatoon Legion, Saskatoon & District League
1951: Saskatoon 55s, Northern Saskatchewan League
1952–53: Saskatoon Gems, Saskatchewan League

Howe was not the only hockey player…

“Even though the United States wasn’t in the war, we read the newspapers. We knew what was happening in Europe, and we were outraged by the Nazis — totally outraged. We thought it was a good time for a patriotic hero.” — Joe Simon, Joe Simon: My Life in Comics

Bit of a stunner in the comic book world today, as Marvel has revealed in the first issue of its new series, Captain America: Steve Rogers, that Cap is, and always has been, an agent of Hydra. Hydra is a terrorist organization closely associated with the Red Skull, Captain America’s…

For the past twenty years, one book has ruled them all.

My first copy of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone is now 20 years old. It is a Bloomsbury 1st edition, second printing, from 1997, and it pre-dates the Raincoast editions published in Canada. It’s not worth anything, but for sentimental reasons I want it to last, and I’ve replaced it with a newer edition to use as a reading copy.

My first edition of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.

I first bought and read the book 18 years ago, in the summer of 1999. I was picking up the pieces of my life. The relationship I had been in — a relationship I had thought would last the…

Andy Grabia

King of Nightlandia

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