INTRODUCTION TO PART 2---THE OUTSIDER
"Now I am an outcast. I loath the fatherland. The thing for me is a very drunken sleep on the beach." (Rimbaud, Arthur. A Season in Hell & the Drunken Boat. NY: New Directions, 1961. pp 13)
By the time his seven-year career ended, he had set twelve team records that still stand, was a seven-time All-Star, led the playoffs in hitting three times, led the league in nine different categories, was named National Tournament MVP, and twice selected to the National baseball team. At age twenty-seven, the height of most ballplayerʼs career, he tossed a two-hit shutout, setting five records at the National level ... then turned his back and just walked away.
In the year 2001, Manitobaʼs Baseball Hall of Fame published a calendar. The front cover featured Manitobaʼs 1973 provincial baseball team, considered as her greatest team of all-time. Although blessed with some of the top sluggers in all of Canada, the keystone province has never won a national baseball championship, a span of more than a half century since Canada first began crowning a national champion. What Manitoba lacked was management and pitching, especially a stopper who could go toe-to-toe against the best from the West. Teams from British Columbia, Alberta, and Saskatchewan dominated Canadian baseball at the semi-pro and national level.
August, 1973 -- Edmundston, New Brunswick
Team Manitobaʼs best shot at winning a national title came in 1973 when an outsider from northern Manitoba opened the tournament by tossing a three-hit shutout with twelve strikeouts against perennial powerhouse Alberta. He then toppled Saskatchewan with a ten-strikeout, 4-2 complete-game performance in the semi-finals. An unearned run in the sixth inning ended his 33-inning scoreless streak that included three consecutive shutouts. Previously, in a provincial qualifying tournament, this relatively unknown pitcher shutout both the South Central Selects and the MSBL West All-Stars that vaulted his team into the national tournament.
For his efforts, this “outsider” was named National Tournament MVP, Player of the Year, and projected ace of Canadaʼs National Team. Apparently, Manitoba had found her man, but when the plane left for Venezuela, site of baseballʼs 1973 Amateur World Series, this “outsider" was not on board. What the hell?