Alone she sits, hard concrete, blazing sun…by Chuck Duboff

I originally wrote this  on February 23, 2016; two years have passed since then; I recently returned from Puerto Vallarta.  I went for a walk looking for this lady…sadly, I didn’t see her.  My thoughts got to wondering what has happened to her…

Please take a couple of minutes to read this poem and the accompanying note.

February 23, 2016
© Chuck Duboff

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She sits,

Age…unknown,

Sad eyes,

Hands held out,

Hard concrete…

Her home.

Blazing sun,

Baking her Aztec skin.

Endless days,

Alone,

Very alone,

Sadly alone…

Begging…

To survive,

Just one more day…

While the rich,

The well clothed,

Life’s smiles…

Pass her by.

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***I have walked from the Canto del Son resort to the “downtown” shop/restaurant area three times already.  It is a good 45 minute walk each way under the blazing sun.  I am always sure to wear a hat and have a bottle of water with me.

Each time I have done this walk I have passed the lady.  With each time passing her, my heart broke and my guilt rose.  Today I stopped and tried to speak with her…there was no response, but a blank stare.  I went to my pocket and took out 200 pesos (roughly $20)…I put it into the jar she held in front of her.  Sadly, there were only a few lonely coins.  I made sure the 200 peso bill was in the cup.

I got up and headed back to my beautifully, decadent resort…while this lonely soul sat, alone, on the hard concrete.***

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A fun Saturday with some very cool videos: SNL, Goldeyes, Jets, one amazing photograph and the Boss with a great song!!

From both Geoff and myself…we want to wish everybody a Merry Christmas.

 

This first video is so freakin hilarious…leave it to Saturday Nigh Live to absolutely nail what it’s like getting old.  Enjoy.

This picture was taken by my awesome son Matt (mattduboffphotography)…he’s down in California for two weeks and took this amazing pic of the Redwood Forest.  Wow, just wow.

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Picture by Matt Duboff Photography

This past season the Winnipeg Goldeyes won their second championship in a row; but for a fleeting moment it looked bad for the home 9…but fate had something else in mind and this video captures it all.

 

This is so very cool…the Winnipeg Jets’ Josh Morrisey does some holiday shopping at Sportchek and then surprises this family with great Christmas presents.

 

Couldn’t miss out on the boss singing Merry Christmas Baby!!

David Cassidy’s final words: “So much wasted time.” Sunday random thoughts…by Chuck Duboff

 

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© Chuck Duboff

Katie Cassidy shared her father David Cassidy’s last words on Twitter Friday afternoon:

“Words cant express the solace our family’s received from all the love & support during this trying time. My father’s last words were ‘So much wasted time’. This will be a daily reminder for me to share my gratitude with those I love as to never waste another minute….thank you,” Katie Cassidy tweeted.

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  • So much fun watching Ben’s hockey game yesterday…9/10 year olds, playing really exciting hockey!!
  • Time magazine called and said I’d probably be the Man of the Year, but I had to decline since I’ll be busy shovelling snow and slicing potatoes.

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  • Listening to Matthew talk about the trip he is planning for the holidays…makes me so daymn proud.
  • Jets are in for their toughest stretch of hockey…on and off of planes, changing time zones…there’s no way we can keep up the pace we’ve been playing…but, you know, the critics, the trolls will come out…we’ve banked a lot of points, relax everyone.
  • Laine and Ben are so blessed with parents like Carly and Chris who do so very much for them…what a beautiful family.
  • Not that I’m counting, but just 79 more sleeps till Puerto Vallarta.
  • “So much wasted time.”  David Cassidy.
  • Brian Pallister: The Grinch who stole Christmas.
  • The only thing that has surprised me about Herr Trump is that he has not been impeached yet; I truly believed he’d be out of office by now.  Everything else, I saw it all coming.
  • Sad when the Russian puppet criticizes a black athlete for taking a knee, but at the same time supports an Alabama politician running for Senate who raped a 14 year old girl.
  • Threatens his wife with a loaded gun, terrible father to his boys, stated that Hitler did some good things and that there are too many blacks in the United States.  So conflicted as to why we honour a man like this.
  • Hard to believe Patrik Laine is only 19 years old.
  • Interesting observation by both Geoff and myself…Laine skates like Frank Mahovolich  did…big heavy strides.
  • Watching the pain my mom is in while trying to walk…heartbreaking.
  • Do we “grandfather” actions which we did many years ago when societies standards were so different?
  • Malcom Young passing away really shook me…it’s easy to say 64 is young, but, in fact, the body and mind start to slow down, no matter what you do.  Rest in peace Malcom…your music brought so much fun!!

National Geographic & USA Today rank Winnipeg and the Human Rights Museum as top tourist destinations!! See why…by Chuck Duboff

**National Geographic in 2016 and USA Today just last week, both ranked Winnipeg, the Forks, and the Human Rights Museum, as one of the top tourist destinations in the world.**

I went for a long hike/jog this morning…started at the Forks walkway, up through the Forks, over the bridges, by the ballpark and then back home.

Listening to the music on my cell phone, I decided to take pix of the Forks…what a jewel we have right in the centre of our city.

 

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Jogging along the Forks Walkway.

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Aboriginal gathering place.

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The Forks…the Red and Assiniboine River meet.

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The Canadian Museum of Human Rights

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Esplanad Riel

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A beautiful walkway

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Gandhi greeting visitors to the Canadian Museum of Human Rights

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Winnipeg Goldeyes Training Camp and Open House…in pictures…by Chuck Duboff

© Chuck Duboff

“What a beautiful day!!”  “Have you seen our new catcher Suarez?”  “Look at all those pitchers out there!!”  “What a great crowd today!”  “Bergan just looks like a hitter”  “Wow, have you seen number 56?  That pitcher?  He was with AAA in the Dodgers system.”

Just a few of the words, observations of Goldeyes fans as they got their first look at the 2017 edition of the Winnipeg Goldeyes.  This may have been the best weather we’ve ever had for the opening of Training Camp and the Annual Open House.  What a perfect day sitting and watching Goldeyes baseball under the beautiful sunshine.

I thought I’d let the pictures tell the story (with a special thanks to Josh Alan photography and Hank Lemoine for a few extra pictures besides the ones that i took)

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Our two new catchers hard at work.

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Falcon Lake…Penguin Resorts; my spring/summer second home…by Chuck Duboff

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Cabin 11 at Penguin Resorts…my second home.

Penguin Resorts in Falcon Lake…so very peaceful and beautiful.  It has been my spring/summer escape back to nature for the past fifteen years.  Waking up to loons singing amidst the fresh clean air,   No garbage trucks at 4 in the morning, police and ambulance sirens non-existent, people yelling on the streets…not happenin; just a breathtakingly beautiful place to read, relax, hike and allow nature to recapture your soul.  The owners, Irene and Ken, truly have invested not only their money, but have worked hard to make this resort a place where you feel welcome and are left not wanting anything.  Enjoy the pictures which follow (if you have any questions about the resort, drop me a note and i can connect you with Irene.)

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The Trans=Canada Trail is right beside the cabins…amazing hiking.

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Setting aside politics for a few minutes; enjoy the spirit of Cuba in pix…by Chuck Duboff.

© Chuck Duboff

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On of my favourite pictures from Cuba; I took school supplies to hand out to the kids…I was fortunate, in that I was allowed to enter this school and talk with the students…what a great experience that was.

The response to my last blog on the dual personality of Cuba was astounding; the number of views and interesting commentary spoke to the unique place Cuba holds throughout the world.  I really lost count of how many times I visited Cuba; I am certain it was more than ten…throughout those visits, I attempted to capture, what I believe was, the essence of what makes Cuba such a fascinating country.  Enjoy these pix…I believe they present both sides of the ongoing debate about reality of Cuba.  One thing is for certain…the Cuban people are warm and caring and are mere pawns in the hands of the Cuban government.


There are pictures and posters of Che Guevera through out the country, however, there were never any pictures of Fidel Castro.  That tank is from the days of the Cuban Revolution, while the car in the top right pic is just one of the classic cars you see on all the streets.


Amazing architecture everywhere you go.


Ernest Hemmingway’s bar…that he spent a lot of his days at.  I was thrilled when I got to see his apartment and his original manuscript for Old Man and the Sea. (trying to track that picture down.)

Cigar makers, baseball, artists, musicians, children playing and buggy rides…all a staple of Cuban life.


The Cuban people are so very warm, friendly and kind…the beaches…second to none.

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…and every where you go…Baseball, the life blood of Cuba.

A breathtaking Italy…in words and pictures from Geoff Brookes

© Chuck Duboff

My good friend Geoff Brookes, and his wife Laureen, are currently on a three week holiday in Italy.  Geoff has been sending breathtaking pictures and this morning an e-mail arrived (of course Geoff has been asking for Jets updates…lol)  Enjoy this blog written and photographed in Italy:

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© Geoff Brookes

‘m in the outdoor seating at “Bar Focacceria Antonio”, in Monterosso Al Mare, on a peaceful Saturday morning. In the misty distance I can see rocky hills falling to the sea like folds in a roughly thrown blanket. In each fold is another town of the “Cinque Terre”, the five towns that dot this spectacular stretch of the Mediterranean Sea. I’m having my second cappuccino, but I will wait until Laureen wakes to sample the three kinds of Focaccia bread that I spied in the display case. (We brought our gluten-cutter pills for this reason). This is where they invented Focaccia bread – Liguria province.

Last night we had a feast of seafood at a wonderful restaurant, “Belvedere”. It is indeed a “beautiful view”, through an open window to the Mediterranean. With a fine local white wine made in neighbouring “Vernazza”, it’s a slice of heaven to sample, where earth, wind and sea wish each other “buonasera”.

Rome was spectacular. We had guided tours of the Pantheon, the Colliseum and the Forum, while we wandered through the Palatine hill on our own. We also had an excellent guide for the Vatican and St. Peter’s (thanks Trev!). We liked the guide for the Pantheon, but the guide for the forum seemed to evaluate the ruins based on how much was left standing for each of the hundreds of ruined structures for the “forum” and the palatine hill. The forum is actually a vast congregation of ruins from the valley that was the centre of Ancient Rome. The Palatine hill was the area where the aristocrats built their palaces, above the city centre, and technically beyond its city limits, as was required at that time.

There are amazing ancient buildings scattered everywhere throughout modern Rome, but when you walk through the large area of the coliseum, the forum and the palatine hill, you feel like you’re walking through time. There are enough fully preserved remnants that you feel like you can imagine them as they were 2,000 years ago.

This 5 square miles (my guess) controlled Europe and North Africa for parts of 1,000 years, long before plagues ravaged the population of Europe. Most importantly, the Romans provided continuity in culture, art and science from the Greeks (who played at least some role in the origins of Rome), and similar historical cultures before them. Unfortunately, this knowledge went underground for 1,000 years after the Roman Empire collapsed, until its “rebirth” in the Renaissance, in which the Italians played a leading role once again.

Enjoy the pictures!

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Inspiration…this is a MUST READ!! Jeff Miller in his own words.

© Jeff Miller

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Jeff Miller, August 2015, 238 pounds

Life is short and can be taken from us, our the ones we love and cherish in the beat of heart. Like everyone else I have my good days and bad days, good years and bad years, days when you can’t wait to wake up and days when don’t want to wake up. The life style journey that I chose to embark on 9 months ago has been quite the ride I have gained new friends and lost old friends all because of the person I appear to be on the outside, there has been overwhelming support and questions about how I am living healthier and when I answer those questions openly on social media I am viewed by others as bragging or shunning them this couldn’t be further from the truth, I have spent many years living a self destructive life and I am one of the lucky ones to be able to still change before irreversible damage was done. I am very aware of the fact that there are lots of people out there that would love to change their lifestyle but it’s not in the cards for them and it’s not because of a lack of trying we just have to make the best of what we are dealt with.  Part of my transformation was to appreciate life, to be less concerned about things I possess and more of the beauty that is around me. I am only 9 months into this journey and their are lots of people cheering for my success and others cheering for me to fail and be miserable. I have no clue how this journey will end but I can only hope my that on my lowest days when I want to give up that I can lean on my support team. I make no apologies for photos that I post of myself past or present I choose to use them to motivate myself only and my main reason for writing this is so when the days or years come that I want to give up I can look back at the post and hopefully it will inspire me to follow the right path again. Enjoying the best days of my life and I hope this inspires you to enjoy your days the best way you know how.

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Jeff Miller, August 2016, an awesome looking, 167 pounds!!

Chuck Duboff: I have never really known Jeff on a personal level, other than that he is one of the photographers for the Winnipeg Goldeyes.  Having seen him in the past, I was taken aback by the amount of weight Jeff had lost this season…not knowing him on a personal level, I didn’t think it was my place to say anything.  On Facebook we have been “Oh, I know who he is” kinda friends.  When Jeff posted this yesterday on FB, I reached out to him and asked if it would be ok to use his words as today’s blog.  He was more than happy to share…to say I am proud of Jeff would be an understatement!!  Keep it up man and see you at the ballpark!!

The Goldeyes Report: it’s 2 hours before game time at Shaw Park; by Chuck Duboff

© Chuck Duboff

It’s game night, and by 5:30 fans are already lining up for a 7:00 PM game.  While Goldeyes fans socialize and eagerly wait to be let in at 6:00 PM, there is lots going on inside the ballpark.  Goldeyes staff are sweeping up to present a clean ball park, food is being brought in and getting ready to be served to hungry fans, the base lines are being marked out, the teams get on the field for stretching and batting practice, upbeat music keeps everyone smiling, both teams managers contemplate the game in front of them…and as the time gets closer to 6:00 PM, the movement throughout the ballpark is quite hectic.  As fans, we rarely get the chance to see what goes on earlier in the afternoon…I was given this opportunity, by Andrew Collier and the Goldeyes, to go in around 5:00 PM and get a feel for all the hustle and bustle going on .  Enjoy these pictures…they provide a good feel for all the preparations going on in the ballpark.

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An empty ballpark, but lots happening

 

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Players stretching before batting practice.

 

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Lots of delicious food getting ready to be served.

 

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Players eagerly wait their turn to get into the batting cage, while the skipper looks on.

 

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Fan services getting everything ready…

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Kevin Arnst staying on top of things.

 

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Food being delivered while watching batting practice.

 

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Field prep begins.

 

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Baselines going to be chalked…

 

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Batting cage being taken down.

 

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Goldeyes staff on the ready to mark out the batter’s boxes.

 

 

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Texas manager, James Frisbie, getting ready for the game.

 

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A lonely base waits to be put in its place.

Muhammed Ali and Gordie Howe…the greatest!! by Chuck Duboff

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© Chuck Duboff

It’s difficult to write about two sports icons who shaped our child hoods.  “Down goes Frazier”; “There’s another Howe goal, assist and fight!!”  “Cassius Clay manhandles Sonny Liston!!”  “It’s Gordie Howe and the Houston Aeros at the Winnipeg Arena to play Bobby Hull and the Winnipeg Jets!!”  “Chuvalo goes 15 rounds with Ali at Maple Leaf Gardens!!”  Gordie Howe stops by at Rae and Jerry’s and wishes my parents a Happy Anniversary.

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They were the best  in an era when our sports heroes were bigger than life.  Yet, off the field of play, they were great men, who took the time to make this world a better place.  Ali grew up as Cassius Clay, but changed his name to Muhammed Ali when he converted to Muslim.  He was recognizable throughout the world in his efforts to bring happiness and peace to all.  I dare say that Ali, a Muslim, brought more peace and love to this world than a bigoted Donald Trump ever will.

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The Champ, a Muslim, brought peace and happiness to all those he met.

I remember Gordie Howe playing for the Detroit Red Wings and his elbows and grit on display when he played Johnny Bower and my Toronto Maple Leafs.  He was awe inspiring and dominated the play when he was on the ice.  When he moved to the WHA, being able to see both Gordie and Bobby on the ice at the Winnipeg Arena seemed like a dream come true.

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Gordie Howe and Johnny Bower!!

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It’s hard to say good bye to our sports heroes.  Unlike a certain writer for the Winnipeg Free Press, I would suggest that both Ali and Howe were sports heroes:

Miriam Webster dictionary defines hero as: “a person who is greatly admired for great or brave acts or fine qualities.”

Muhammed Ali, in his actions, brought peace and love to all those who were fortunate to meet him; Gordie Howe, quite simply, was a good soul, a man who cared about others and brought smiles to all those whose presence he graced.

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Gordie fans

Summertime meant Calder Sports Day…by Al Bryski.

@Al Bryski

I always looked forward to the Calder and District Board of Trade Sports day which usually occurred in the early part of June. It was a day filled with excitement and it was a day away from the usual routine of the farm.

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The Sports Day was held south of the CNR tracks on the Calder Sports Grounds, a field which was fenced off from the surrounding area. The grounds had 3 ball diamonds on it. Two were for baseball, or hardball, and one was for fastball, or softball, as they were respectively called back then. Baseball was played by the men and softball was reserved for the women because “it was a gentler sport for the gentler and fairer sex”.

Entry to the grounds was by general admission. For youths it was a quarter and for adults it was half a buck. You received a ribbon which was pinned onto your shirt or jacket to show that you had paid and had not sneaked in over or under the woven wire fence. You could leave the grounds but you needed to have your hand stamped for readmission so that ribbons were not handed off to other people for using to gain admission by those who were leaving.

The calibre of the baseball teams that paid an entrance fee depended on the size of the prizes. The larger the winnings, the better the teams that were attracted. At the larger centres’ Sports Days, purses were often in the amount of a $1000 for first. Calder’s prizes for the baseball portion back then were more in the line of $100 to $200 for first, $75 for second, $50 for third, and $25 for fourth. Teams were guaranteed at least two games. In the softball portion, the prizes, like wages for women  were also considerably less. Most of the women’s teams were pickup teams from the area and from surrounding towns. Their entry fee was about $5 a team and first prize was about $25. They were usually guaranteed only one game.

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The men’s games were played on the two baseball diamonds. The main baseball diamond was carefully manicured in the days before the tournament. It also had small grandstand that stretched from first base, around home to third base. The stands had bench seating and were about 8 rows high. Games in front of the grandstand were usually between the higher seeded teams. As well, the semi-finals and finals were played here. When the grandstand was filled, as it often was at sports days, fans would also sit on the grass along the foul lines. Every inning or so the base umpires would move the fans back about 2 metres from the line so that they wouldn’t interfere in a ball’s progress. As well fans had to scatter when a fall ball was hit sharply along the ground or when a player came in search of a foul pop-up.

Cars were parked along the fences or in an area away from the field if they didn’t want their cars to be hit by stray foul balls. Many a person who chose close-to-the-field parking ended up with a dent in the roof of the car from pop fouls that cleared the high wire mesh fences that surrounded the infield area. Occasionally an unlucky family would come back to their car to find that the windshield had been shattered by a direct hit from a foul ball. Foul balls provide a source of income for groups of teens wearing baseball gloves who competed with each other to retrieve the foul balls and turn them in for a ten cent reward. This was good money in the days when soda pop, or soft drinks as they were called then, were only a dime, hot dogs were fifteen cents, and an ice cream cone was ten cents. These prices were from the 50’s and they had inflated by a 100% from the 40’s.

The previously mentioned foods were bought at a booth from town residents who were volunteering their labor for the day. Salted sunflower seeds were in big demand and one could always tell the size of the crowd the next day by the amount of sunflower seed shells lying on the ground. Chocolate bars cost a dime, and, if you were lucky and Texas watermelons were available, you could buy a nice thick slice of ice-cold watermelon for a dime. There was many a war waged between young boys with pieces of watermelon rind.

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People would sit and watch the games and cheer on their favorite teams. Everyone especially liked to cheer against the teams from larger centres who often came in with a superior attitude. They thought they would show these “hayseeds” or “bumpkins’ how baseball was really played in the city. More often than not, they ran into some very talented “farmboys” who sent them home on the short end of the score at the end of the game.

For the children and for those adults who weren’t embarrassed at being seen in taking part, there were races and contests of many types. Prizes were usually monetary – fifteen cents for first, a dime for second, and a nickel for a third place finish. There were tug-of-war contests and horseshoe pitching competitions. Calder’s Sports Day was too small to qualify, but the larger towns and small cities hosting a Sports Day would often have a midway show as well.

As at games played in front of large crowds today, there were the ever present “hecklers” who would shout out their “witty sayings” at ball players they had selected for whatever reason to be their targets. If these hecklers were truly funny, they were fun to listen to. However some were just mean-spirited, and even though the targets of their barbs were players of the “hated” opposing team, most home-town fans knew when the rules of proper conduct had been broken and would not encourage these baiters. Occasionally after a player had been the target of their barbs all game and could take it no more, there would be a confrontation and punches would be exchanged. Usually though, the players on opposing teams knew this was their fate as the visiting team and good-naturedly took the ribbing. The odd player gave back as good as he got and this was often enough to shut a heckler up. Occasionally the banter between the hecklers and the heckled was better than even the ball game being played.

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The calibre of the baseball that was played at this sports day and others like it was very good. In the days before television, young men played baseball as a form of entertainment from the time they were old enough to understand the game. As they got older, they got better at it and smarter. There was much baseball savvy out there as well as excellent physical skills. Each town had their hometown heroes.

In the United States, Afro-Americans were not allowed to play in the American or National Baseball Leagues because of a color barrier. So they formed teams of their own and leagues of their own, the Negro American League and the Negro National League. The National League folded in 1948. The Negro American league folded at the end of 1951, when full integration of black players into the previously white American and National Leagues took place. First a trickle and then a flood of players signed with Major League Baseball teams. Most signed minor league contracts and many languished, shuttled from one bush league team to another, despite their success at previous high levels. Those that were either too old or had become disenchanted with their failure to rise from the minor leagues headed to Canada. Here they were signed by teams who played in the larger centres. They received a salary for the season and many of them held jobs. As well, most were integrated into the white communities and many did not go back to the States when their playing days were over.

Our young men often played against these teams with their stacked rosters and they held their own. Their calibre of play stood the test. Some of these farm boys were good enough to play in the majors but they did not have any scouts to notice them. Occasionally some went to tryout camps on the States and signed minor league contracts. Yes, the calibre of baseball at these Sports Days was good.

After the games were over, most adults attended a dance at the local hall where a notable band had been hired by the local Board of Trade to provide the music. Admission often include a lunch provided by the Board of Trade who had sponsored the Sports Day. The hotel in town did a booming business as did the stores which stayed open late for the crowds of visitors. If the Sports Day was well-run, had a good supply of volunteers, and the weather co-operated, then the Board of Trade would be able to add a substantial amount of money into the general income which was to the benefit of the town and its citizens and to those people from the surrounding farms who did their shopping in the town.

Sports Days are a thing of the past. There are still tournaments that occur, but in almost all cases the game being played for cash prizes is fastball, what the old-timers in their day referred to as softball, or in some extreme cases, “baseball for sissies”!