Wednesday, May 30, 2007

The Rajah of Renfrew

Props to the Cracker Cats, Edmonton’s oddly-named professional baseball team, for their ceremony last night, celebrating 100 years of professional baseball in Edmonton. It was May 29th, 1907 that Edmonton’s first professional team, the Edmonton Legislators (I guess Edmonton has a history of poor names!) took the field against the Calgary Chinooks (okay, now that’s a name).
Of course, baseball had been played and was highly popular for years before professional baseball arrived. But a boom was building in 1907, with Edmonton touted on the pages of the Edmonton Bulletin as "The Chicago of the North". Surely a professional team staffed almost entirely by Americans would be the best way to show Edmonton had hit the big time?
The story of Edmonton baseball is well told in Brant E. Ducey’s 1998 book, The Rajah of Renfrew. While the book is subtitled The Life and Times of John E. Ducey, Edmonton’s "Mr. Baseball" (Brant’s Dad), it actually covers baseball history before and after Ducey was active. The archival photos of teams like 1903's Edmonton Never Sweats and Thirsty Thugs are fabulous.


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