Blast From The Past: Tofield Vs YMCA

Posted October 15, 2020


Blast From The Past: Tofield Vs YMCA
It is quite astonishing how old baseball in the Powerline Baseball League communities really is. While it is very difficult to pinpoint an exact date of when baseball would have been first played in the area, there are photos that show area teams dating back to 1907 and 1909, Bardo historians that date organized baseball in their area to 1903 and newspaper articles recalling games as far back as 1913 in Ryley. 
 
When looking for these start dates and early dates of the sport in the area, one often comes across unique stories. The June 23, 1910 edition of the Edmonton Journal featured a story about the Tofield baseball team travelling to Edmonton to take on the Y.M.C.A baseball team at Diamond Park. The article was titled “Y Ball Tossers Defeat Tofield: Amateur Baseball Game Winds Up With A Sensational Finish”.
 
The game would be played at Diamond Park in Edmonton, which at the time was the premier baseball facility in the city. The field was situated in the Ross Flats area of Edmonton, below the Hotel McDonald. It was built in 1907, featured a covered grandstand and sitting of up to 1500 fans. In 1910, it was home to the Edmonton Eskimos baseball team. 
 
View from the stands of the opening day of the 1910 Western Canada Professional Baseball League season, Diamond Park, Edmonton. Saskatoon Quakers versus Edmonton Eskimos (Photographer is Byron-May Company, Creator: John E. Ducey, From Provincial Archives of Alberta A11952)
 
First pitch would be delayed as the Tofield team ran into train problems. Yes train problems. It was reported that the afternoon train ended up being late which meant the game would start at 7:00pm and wouldn’t allow the boys from Tofield much time to get ready. 
 
The delayed start would quickly bite Tofield as the YMCA quickly found themselves up 2-0 after the first inning. A run scoring single and a bases loaded wild pitch appeared to be the way in which the YMCA scored their runs. 
 
Teams would trade scoreless innings until the Tofield contingent finally broke through with a run in their half of the third inning. Tofield would capitalize on a YMCA error with a rbi single of their own to trim the lead to 2-1. 
 
Tofield would battle back and take a 3-2 lead in the fourth inning. Not willing to to back down, the YMCA team would put up a three spot of their own to take a 5-3 lead in what was shaping up to be a terrific back and forth affair. Here is how the Journal reported the YMCA’s fourth inning "Jamison agitated the air, but found his way to first on a passed ball. McKellar singled, but the next two men die. Gorman walked and the bases were full. Miller and Parney singled and three men crossed the plate.
 
The two teams would combine to score six runs in an exciting eighth inning. Heading into the eighth inning the YMCA now found themselves with a comfortable 7-4 lead. With light failing, Tofield got to work putting up four runs to take the lead. "Tofield started the fun by lifting a near single and stealing second. Broker struck out, but McCusker followed with a single and Barnes walked. Diamond plastered a hit to the field and two runs were added to the score. Adams followed with a similar stunt and two more runs were annexed.
 
It was a pair of two RBI singles, one by Diamond and one by Adams, for Tofield that put the visiting team up and with a chance to hold off the persistent YMCA attack in now a 8-7 game for Tofield. It however wasn’t going to be Tofield’s night. 
 
A lead off single by the YMCA’s McKillar would start the comeback for the Edmonton fellas. With a runner on base, Tofield pitcher McCusker would strike out back to back hitters putting Tofield one out away from the win. However, the YMCA would get runners on when their catcher, Parney, would drive in the tying run and what would end up being the game winning run to make it 9-7. It appears that there was an exciting play at the the plate for the third out as Parney attempted to complete the inside the park home run. 
 
The game would then be called due to darkness, much to the chagrin of the Tofield team and their fans. Speaking of fans, the boxscore indicated that there were 200 fans in attendance for the game at Diamond Park. 
 
Tofield’s pitcher McCusker would pitch a complete game, striking out twelve “Edmonton willow wielders” and walking five. For the Edmonton YMCA, Burley would get the win, also pitching a complete game, allowing nine hits to Tofield.  
 
Below is the boxscore that was printed in the Edmonton Journal for the game, complete with fielding stats. 

It is always fascinating to find these stories and get caught up in the language that they are told in compared to how they are written today. A batter “agitating the air” was used to describe swinging and missing. “Two men die at the plate” was a pair of hitters striking out, “flour sack” was in reference to a base, perhaps it was an actual flour sack? It is also amazing that a major newspaper like the Edmonton Journal would print in-depth stories about local amateur baseball. 
 
An amazing era for local baseball as the game was starting to get more and more formalized heading into the 1920’s and 1930’s. 
 

Note - there was another article discovered about the game between Tofield and the YMCA on June 22, 1910. This article was the June 23, 1910 edition of The Edmonton Bulletin. The game now had the two major newspapers in the area reporting on the game. Like the Edmonton Journal article, the Edmonton Bulletin article broke down the game inning by inning and included a box score with the game stats at the end of the column. 

The Edmonton Bulletin article did mention that McCusker was well known to baseball fans in Edmonton after playing previous seasons with teams out of Camrose and Vegreville. 

Tofield's defence was credited with some great defensive play in the game with the Bulletin describing them as "much cleaner and snappier" than the YMCA's defence which would commit a total of eight errors in the game. 

Again, the language used in the reports is fantastic to look back on. "Broker made first on a charity" is an example of the terms used. There was also no doubles and triples. Everything was referenced as two baggers and three baggers. 

The Bulletin also didn't pull any punches when it came to reporting what cost the "Tofield nine" the game, and it was McCusker's pitching. Despite striking out twelve over eight innings of work, McCusker struggled with control walking five and throwing "several wild pitches", most of which seemed to come back to haunt him and led to YMCA runs. 

The length of the game was also recorded to be two hours on that June night in 1910. 

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