History of baseball in Canada

From BR Bullpen

The history of baseball in Canada dates to the 1830s.


The first baseball game recorded in Canada was played in Beachville, Ontario on June 4, 1838 (before the purported codification of the game by Abner Doubleday). Many Canadians, including the staff of the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in St. Marys, Ontario, claim that this was the first documented game of modern baseball, although there appears to be no evidence that the rules used in this game were codified and adopted in other regions. The first documented evidence of a base ball game in Canada comes from a letter published in Sporting Life magazine in 1886, a letter by Dr. Adam E. Ford of Denver, Colorado, formerly of St. Marys, Ontario and Beachville, Ontario, about a game 48 years earlier in Beachville on June 4, 1838 — Militia Muster Day.

The London Tecumsehs of London, Ontario were charter members of the International Association and won its first championship in 1877, beating the Pittsburgh Alleghenies.

While baseball is widely played in Canada, the American major leagues did not include a Canadian team until 1969, when the Montreal Expos joined the National League (the London Tecumsehs were refused admission to the National League in 1877 because they refused to stop playing exhibition games against local teams). In 2004, MLB decided to move the Expos to Washington, DC.

In 1977, the Toronto Blue Jays joined the American League. They won the World Series in 1992 and 1993.

Canada has hosted teams in various minor leagues since these were first created in the last decades of the 19th Century. While there is currently only one Canada-based team remaining in Organized Baseball - the Vancouver Canadians of the Class-A Northwest League, this was not always the case. The Montreal Royals and Toronto Maple Leafs were pillar franchises of the International League until the 1960s, and the cities of Ottawa, Winnipeg, Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver have all hosted AAA franchises until recent years, while many more Canadian cities were in leagues of lower classifications. Certain leagues, such as the Provincial League in the 1940s and 1950s, were entirely made up of Canadian teams. The Provincial League in fact had periods when it stood outside of organized baseball, but still attracted star players who were kept out of the Major Leagues for one reason or another, as well as prospects who would later play in the majors.

In 2003 an attempt to create the Canadian Baseball League was launched, but the league folded halfway through its first season.

Several of the independent leagues currently have teams in Canada, including the Can-Am Association (with teams in Ottawa, Quebec City and Trois-Rivières) and the American Association (one team in Winnipeg). Calgary and Edmonton also had teams in independent leagues in recent years, although these have since folded.

Semi-Pro and Amateur baseball[edit]

Baseball in played at the amateur or semi-pro level in Canada as well.

The Intercounty Baseball League (IBL) is an amateur, semi-professional baseball organization located in the Canadian province of Ontario. The league was formed in 1919.

The Intercounty Baseball League exists so that baseball players who were not signed by a Major or Minor League organization have a chance at playing competitive men's baseball. Although the level of Intercounty Baseball League play can be categorized as being at the "Semi-pro" level, players in independent baseball are usually not scouted heavily by Major League teams, although in recent years that has changed somewhat.[1]. At least one Intercounty league player has gone to play pro ball in Europe; Daniel Hayes was with the London Majors before being acquired by a French team and was later (2009) sent to play in Austria.

Because baseball is generally not played in Canadian high schools and universities, a different system was developed to allow players in that age range to play against competition of a similar level. Junior leagues have been organized across Canada for decades and have fed players into Team Canada and American junior colleges, or directly into the professional ranks via the amateur draft.

Related articles[edit]

Further Reading[edit]

  • Stephen Dame: "First Base Among Equals: Prime Ministers and Canada's National Game", in Baseball Research Journal, SABR, Vol. 49, Nr. 1 (Spring 2020), pp. 57-61.
  • Marc de Foy: Baseball PQ: Une histoire illustrée, Les Éditions du Journal, Montréal, QC, 2019. ISBN 978-2-89761-087-6
  • Bob Elliott: The Northern Game: Baseball the Canadian Way, Sport Classic Books, Toronto, ON, 2006.
  • William Humber: Cheering for the Home Team: The Story of Baseball in Canada, Boston Mills Press, Erin, ON, 1983. ISBN 978-0919822542
  • William Humber: Diamonds of the North: A Concise History of Baseball in Canada, Oxford University Press Canada, Don Mills, ON, 1995. ISBN 978-0195410396
  • Andrew North, ed.: Our Game, Too: Influential Figures and Milestones in Canadian Baseball, SABR, Phoenix, AZ, 2022. ISBN 978-1-970159-82-0
  • Barry Swanton and Jay-Dell Mah: Black Baseball Players in Canada: A Biographical Dictionary, 1881-1960, McFarland, Jefferson, NC. 2009. ISBN 978-0786444687

Some or all content from this article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "London Tecumsehs". and Some or all content from this article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Intercounty Baseball League". This page needs wiki formatting, links and a general cleanup.