(Trail Historical Society)

Trail Blazers: The tradition of Little League baseball

Trail Blazers is a weekly series in partnership with the Trail Museum and Archives

“Take me out to the ball game” is still a catchy tune in 2020, but it won’t be a pre-game ditty for Trail baseball fans this summer.

That, of course, is because teams have pitched out of the traditional season of ball play and pitched into the Canada-wide effort to stop coronavirus contagion.

So this week’s feature for Trail Blazers – chosen by collections coordinator Jesslyn Jarvis – is a fitting way to fondly remember what once was.

The image Jarvis sent to the Times shows the opening ceremonies before the first Little League game was played at the Little League park in Tadanac.

Specifically, the photo captured the moment before the first game when all players had their hats over their hearts as Kinsmen player David Carroll sang O Canada.

The date was May 30, 1953, a Saturday.

“The teams are ‘Legion vs Kinsmen,’” Jarvis began.

“In Canada, Little League baseball was first organized in 1951. By 1953, Trail had formed its first league,” she explained. “The four teams were the Legion, Gyro, Kinsmen, and Rotary.”

To mark the official opening of the League, the teams proudly paraded through downtown Trail.

Then, that Saturday 67 years ago, the crack of a bat from the new Tadanac field was heard for the first time.

Baseball must have been the talk of the town that week, given a crowd of over 1,000 spectators had gathered to watch the inaugural game.

“A year later a second field was constructed in Shaver’s Bench,” Jarvis said. “It became home to the Jaycee League.”

She says an intense rivalry developed between the leagues.

That competitive edge paid off eight years later when Trail won its first Little League provincial championship in 1962.

Five years later in 1967, Trail Little League won their first of five national championships.

In 1975, Andy Bilesky Park replaced the Tadanac and East Trail parks and is still in use today.

As the first ball field was in Tadanac, Jarvis offered a little background to that choice.

“The first houses in Tadanac were built by CM&S and rented to staff employees, and for many years, the neighbourhood was exclusive to CM&S management and the wealthy,” she said.

“It had its own police and fire departments, community hall, elementary school, tennis courts, ball park, and swimming pool, but Trail remained the commercial centre.”

Tadanac, incorporated in December 1922, amalgamated with the City of Trail in 1969.

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