The Champion Blue Jays

No not those Blue Jays. We are talking about the Holden Blue Jays. It has been 25 years since the Toronto Blue Jays were last called champions, and 26 years since the Holden Blue Jays were awarded the Powerline Baseball League Championship.

The 1992 PBL Championship marked the last time the Holden Blue Jays were the best in the league, topping the Ryley Rebels 2-1 in their best of three series. The Blue Jays were coming off a 1991 PBL Championship defeat at the hands of the Tofield Lakers and would get a playoff re-match in 1992. The Jays would knock off Kenny Parent and the rest of the Tofield Lakers in the 1992 PBL Semi-Final Series before squaring off against the dominant Rebels squad. Like their big league counterparts, the Holden Blue Jays would play for a championship in 1993 as well. However the Ryley Rebels would get revenge for the 1992 defeat with another PBL Championship. 1994 would appear to be the end of the Holden Blue Jays run as the team was not in the playoffs with the PBL having six teams on the opening day schedule that year. 

Holden would be without the Powerline Baseball League from 1995 until 2010 when the current Holden Blue Jays re-established the franchise. Since 2010 the Blue Jays have played in four** PBL Championships, unfortunately losing all four, 2011 and 2013 to the Leduc Milleteers, 2014 to the Ryley Rebels and 2017 to the Rosalind Athletics, leaving the 1992 Holden Blue Jays Championship a special one. 

Below is a story from the August 11, 1992 edition of the Tofield Mercury recapping the third and final game of the series between Blue Jays and Ryley Rebels;

Blue Jays finish first

Story and photos by Terri Kembell (August 11, 1992)

The Blue Jays congratulate John Monchuk for his three-run homer. Photo: Terri Kemball

The Holden Blue Jays are the 1992 champions of the Powerline Baseball League.

The Blue Jays came out on top of the league after winning the third game in a best of three final against the Ryley Rebels Aug. 4.

The well-matched teams had split the first two games, with Ryley winning the first game 1-0 and Holden winning the second game 5-3. 

The final game was played in front of a good crowd in Ryley. 

There was no scoring in the first three innings but Holden broke loose for all of its five runs in the fourth.

Darrell Malick was the first Holden runner on base in the fourth inning when he was hit by a ball thrown by Ryley pitcher Elston Solberg. Malick then stole second. 

Dennis Danilak walked, leaving runners on first and second for batter Greg Tkaczyk to drive home Malick with a single base hit. 

Laurie Brissard was the next batter up for Holden. He hit a single, allowing Danilak to score from second base. 

With two Holden runners still on base John Monchuk hit a home run, adding three more runs to the score. Holden now led 5-0. 

Ryley changed pitchers, bringing in Don Oslund who pitched for the rest of the fourth and the fifth before being taken out because of a sore arm. Darryl Holowachuk finished the game for Ryley and no more runs were scored. 

Ryley scored one run in the sixth inning. 

Ron Oslund was the winning pitcher for Holden. 

Moving runners ahead – The Ryley Rebels Brian Lyons lays down a bunt to advance a runner to second base in the first inning of the first game of the Powerline League final. Ryley won the game 1-0 over the Holden Blue Jays. Holden came back to win the next game on Thursday 5-3. The final game in the best of three series will be held Tuesday night in Ryley. Photo: Terri Kemball

 

It was a battle of the pitchers in the first game of the finals held July 28 in Ryley. Brothers Donny and Ronny Oslund held the teams to only one run between them. Donny, above, picked up the win for the Ryley Rebels. Photo: Terri Kemball

Ron would finish the series with a 1-1 record with the series clinching win for the Blue Jays. His loss in that Championship Series was to his brother Don in game one when the Oslund boys would both pitch gems and the Rebels would squeak out a 1-0 win. 

By all accounts Ron Oslund would join his brother and the Ryley Rebels for the 1993 season (he already had the Rebels undershirt as can be seen in the photo above showing the Jays celebrating a home run). Ron would actually pitch against Holden in game one of the 1993 PBL Championship, losing 4-1 to Dennis Danilak and the Blue Jays. The Rebels would go on to win games two and three of the series to win the Championship and end Holden’s appearance in PBL Championships at three (1991, 1992, 1993).

It would be 21 years before the Jays and Rebels would renew the intense Championship rivalry that existed briefly in the early 1990s. In 2014 the Rebels would need three games to defeat the Holden Blue Jays for Ryley’s first championship since 2000. The Highway 14 rivalry would be re-newed from 2010-2016 before the Ryley Rebels would move to Tofield to become the Braves along with the Bardo Athletics.

Holden would see two championship teams in 1992 as the Holden Revies would win the long running Highway 14 Fastball League that season as well. The fastball league ran until the early-mid 1990s after the area had both a men’s fastball league and women’s fastball league which kept the local ball fields busy along with the Powerline Baseball League. In 1992 the Highway 14 Fastball League consisted of the Holden Keggers, Holden Revies, Roundhill Raiders, Ryley Renegades, Ryley Warriors and the Splidstead Trappers. Fastball was so popular in the area that local media coverage seemed to favour the fastball leagues starting in the mid-1980s all the way until the early 1990s.

Photo from Tofield Mercury (July 21 or July 28, 1998)


 **The story was updated to correct an error in the original story indicating the Holden Blue Jays had played in three PBL Championships since 2010 when they have actually played in four PBL Championships since 2010. 

I’ve enjoyed searching for baseball history in the area and I am trying to piece together a picture of the history of the Powerline Baseball League. I’ve been able to collect some old news paper articles but if you have any stories, photos or articles to share that elaborate on any of the articles I post or that you think should be posted, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me kriskush@hotmail.com

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Posted in Holden Blue Jays, PBL, Ryley Rebels