BATTLEFORD — A Tom Hanks character may have said “there’s no crying in baseball” but there were tears of happiness shed at this year’s annual Baseball Hall of Fame Induction.
The annual induction has been held since 1985 to honour people who have contributed to Saskatchewan’s baseball heritage.
Jane Shury, president of the Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, has been involved with it since 1983 when her husband David founded it.
“Dave always had a dream of having the museum and hall of fame to show our rich history of baseball,” said Shury.
After David's death in 2008, Shury wanted to keep it going to honour him.
“It was his dream but also because baseball has a rich history in Saskatchewan that a lot of the younger people weren't around for,” said Shury. “The players deserve to be recognized because they provided so many happy times.”
To be considered for induction the person must be nominated by someone else by March 15 with a packet including things such as the player's statistics, team(s) played on and a reason for nomination.
After everyone on the committee receives their nomination packet and has time to look it over, they then vote in early April on who to induct that year.
“The individual isn’t just selected because they are a good batter or pitcher. It involves the individual's complete baseball history,” said Shury.
“It’s a difficult job because there are so many nominations. They are all such good players it's hard to decide,” continued Shury.
This year’s ceremony was held on Aug. 19 at the Alex Dillabough Centre in Battleford, Saskatchewan.
One of this year’s inductees was Louis Green who was born in Illinois in 1917 and played for the Indian Head Rockets in 1950 and 1951 then the North Battleford Beavers from 1952 to ‘57.
In 1950 Green helped the Indian Head Rockets win two tournaments and in 1951 helped them win five tournaments and the National Baseball Congress Playoff tournaments.
From 1952 to ‘57 while playing with the North Battleford Beavers Green helped them win the Saskatchewan Baseball League Championship and helped coach and mentor the little league group in North Battleford.
In 1956 Green, who threw and batted right, helped win the Global World Series.
Green was nominated for this year’s induction by Robyn Jensen the vice-president of the Indian Head Museum.
Jensen learned who Green was while doing research.
“I heard stories of Lou through historian Rich Necker who was a batboy at the time and watched Lou play,” said Jensen. “He talked about how wonderful a player he was. Rich called him Chatterbox Lou because he would chat up the crowd and players. He was just a nice gentleman.”
At the time Green was playing baseball, the sport was segregated so Jensen thinks it’s important to remember the players came from the United States to play not just because they had no choice but also because of their talent in the sport.
“It’s important to acknowledge Lou and all the other African American players because of their contribution to Saskatchewan baseball even 70 years later,” said Jensen.
“A lot of these players were Negro League alumni. They came up to Canada because of the colour line that was drawn. Saskatchewan had the opportunity to see some fantastic baseball and talent that was major league talent but because of racism and the colour line they couldn’t play,” continued Jensen.
Green was so beloved in North Battleford that when he retired in 1957, fans got together and raised roughly $350 — worth $3,700 today — to present to him as a token of their gratitude.
“For the fans to care that much and put that kind of money together as a going away gift shows how much he was appreciated in the community. Not just on the player but also on the personal and social side. He was just a great human being,” said Jensen.
In 2022, Green was a Saskatchewan Baseball Hall of Fame Inductee in the Team Category for his time with The Rockets.
Green died in 2010 at 92 so accepting his award this year was friend and former teammate Don Hilsendager.
Darryl Rowley, who was born and raised in North Battleford, was also one of this year’s inductees.
Rowley, who was a pitcher, played on various junior teams and won player of the year and the MVP Team Canada. He earned the Jimmy Rattlesnake Award in 1986 before being drafted by the Philadelphia Phillies in the eighth round.
Rowley would also go on to play with the North Battleford Beaver Jacks from 1978 to 1983.
Rowley who was nominated by Fabian Schommer now lives in Oklahoma.
“I didn’t think I was that old yet but I guess I am,” said Rowley laughing. “It was something that crossed my mind in the past but didn’t think too much of. I have lived away from Saskatchewan and North Battleford for a long time now.”
Rowley didn’t know he was nominated for the hall of fame until three months ago.
“That was unexpected,” said Rowley. “It was exciting it brought back old memories.”
Being back for the induction ceremony was a walk down memory lane for Rowley.
“It was good,” said Rowley about the ceremony. “I got to see some people I played ball with a long time ago who were at the banquet. It was nice to get together with them again and talk about baseball.”
“There were a couple guys nominated and being inducted that I had played with I hadn’t seen them in forever, so it was good,” continued Rowley.
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