We have been working to uncover the history of the Powerline Baseball League over the last few months. This has been done using news paper archives, local history books, PBL records and even some stories.
The Powerline Baseball League began in 1933 with Bardo, Ketchamoot, Kingman and Round Hill forming the league at the same time that Holden, Ryley, Tofield and Viking formed the Gas Line Baseball League. The first PBL Champion was the team from Ketchamoot some 87 years ago. Since then, there have been a total of 82 PBL Champions with the Armena Royals being the most recent in 2019.
Below is a compilation of the 73 PBL Champions that we have been able to confirm between 1933 and 2019. The Powerline Baseball League did not operate from 1941 through 1945 due to World War II however teams still did play in tournaments, Sport Days and Red Cross fundraising picnics throughout the war. We are also currently missing 9 PBL Champions from the 1946, 1954, 1955, 1958, 1959, 1960, 1964 and 1965 seasons. During these seasons the coverage of the league was spotty at times, some years only the initial league schedule would be published with now stories or standings throughout the spring/summer. It is likely that these missing 9 seasons would also lead to more championships to their totals for teams like Bardo, Holden, Round Hill, Ryley, Tofield and maybe even Dodds. We will keep working on it and if anyone had any information, photos or stories from these seasons, we would greatly appreciate any help to fill in these gaps.
Another interesting, sometimes frustrating, way that the league used to be covered was the lack of team names. At times, there is no clear indication as to what a team name was. Take Bardo/Bardo Athletics for example. Despite being in the league from the beginning (1933) the first mention of the Athletics name doesn’t occur until the late 1960s. We know that Bardo only ever had one team so lumping Bardo and the Bardo Athletics together was easy. But Tofield, the Tofield Mercurys, the Tofield Lions (Field Lions), Tofield Lakers and Tofield Braves is an example of a situation that is a little more difficult. There is no real clear cut way to determine when the Tofield Mercurys started and ended and when the Tofield Lions started and ended for example, especially with information gaps. This can also be seen, although in a lesser extent, with Holden/Holden Blue Jays, Round Hill/Round Hill North Stars, Ryley/Ryley Legionnaires/Ryley Rebels and Viking/Viking Shamrocks.
Older teams based out of school districts such as Dodds, Ketchamoot, Kingman, Ross Creek and Thule also had no indication of a team name or nickname attached to them.
There is also the shared history between the current Armena Royals and Camrose Axemen teams. Both started as the Armena Royals in 1999 before a re-branding in 2003 to the Armena Axemen, with the same group of players. Then in 2008 the Armena Axemen split into the Armena Royals and Camrose Axemen, again with the same players. Two separate teams who have not stopped playing since 1999 but are now two separate teams in the same league...its a like a more complicated Winnipeg Jets/Arizona Coyotes/Atlanta Thrashers/Winnipeg Jets situation.
So there you have it, the Ryley Rebels have been the most successful franchise in PBL history. Mostly due to the team being a perennial powerhouse throughout the late 70s and the entire 80s and 90s. From 1973-1990, a span of 18 seasons, the Ryley Rebels won 7 PBL Championships, and lost in the final another 4 times. During this time, the Rebels and Camrose Roadrunners formed a rivalry in the standings and on the Championship trophy that the league had never seen before. In those 18 seasons, the Rebels (7) and Roadrunners combined to win 15 Championships, playing each other at least 6 times (maybe 8 if we can find more information on a couple of seasons) during that time.
In the 1990s the Roadrunners faded from being atop the PBL standings while the Rebels kept going strong with new Highway 14 rivalries against the Holden Blue Jays and Tofield Lakers. The Village of Ryley was home to the PBL Championship Trophy for 7 consecutive seasons with the Ryley Rebels and Powerline Brewers winning every year from 1995-2001. Then came the Armena Royals/Armena Axemen dynasty and the Leduc Milleteers five in a row dynasty from 2009-2013. The Milleteers five in a row still holds up as the most PBL Championships in a row, however the Tofield Lions were champions from 1966-1969 and we have yet to find the information on the 1964-1965 seasons to confirm the PBL Champions. Until that time, the Milleteers lay claim to that title.
We will continue to try and dig up more and more PBL history as there are some great stories out there that need to see the light of the day again. Stories like Jim Andreassen’s 11 RBI game in 1987 against the Tofield Lakers to the various no-hitters sprinkled throughout the league’s history to finding out details about Eddie Williams who was one of the most dominant pitchers in the area throughout the 1950s and 1960s. Stories like a young man in Ryley throwing a baseball clear over a grain elevator and a recently discovered story about a 1988 Ryley Rebel hitting a ball well over 400’ (but probably under 450’) in a playoff game in Camrose is what is great about baseball.