MANITOBA SENIOR BASEBALL LEAGUE

   Ross Stone was born in Nipawin, Saskatchewan, a small town with a population of a little more than four thousand residents in the north-eastern part of the province on the Saskatchewan River portion of Tobin Lake. He attended City Park High School (collegiate) in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan in 1959 and that summer suited up for the Saskatoon Commodores of the Western Canada Baseball League where he posted a 1-1 record for legendary coach Roy Taylor. Two years earlier, Coach Taylor had led his College of Sequoias Giants to a California Community College State championship.

   In 1960, Stone pitched in five games for Saskatoon, all in relief without a decision, before joining playing/manager Jackie McLeod and his Swift Current Indians of the Southern (Saskatchewan) League. McLeod is best known as a professional hockey player for the 1961 Stanley Cup-winning New York Rangers and as Canada's National Hockey Team coach in 1965. As a starter, Stone went 4-3 for the 3rd place 21-11 Indians. His performance that year was good enough to join Roy Taylor and his Giants at Sequoias College in Central California for the spring of 1961. That summer, Stone returned to Northern Saskatchewan where he began a nine-year career (1961-'68 and 1971) with the Unity Cardinals of the Northern Saskatchewan Baseball League. After three lackluster seasons, Stone went 4-3 for the Cards before his breakout year, 1964, where he compiled a perfect 7-0 record for the 15-15 Cardinals. He followed that year up with a 10-4 season where he led the NSBL in victories and strikeouts (128 in 97 innings) with a 3-35 ERA.

   In 1966, "Stoney" won more games than future major league pitchers Bill Campbell and Norm Angelini by leading the NSBL in victories again with his 11-1 record while guiding his 24-6 Cardinals to a league championship. His .917 winning % was the league's best while his 2.61 ERA raked 5th best. A year later, 1967, the 25-5 Cardinals won the pennant and league championship with Stone leading the NSBL in strikeouts for a second time with 106 K's in 74 innings. His 1.34 ERA was the league's 2nd best. He also tossed three shutouts, 5-0 over the Kimberley Elks, 2-0 versus the Bigger Nationals, and 6-0 against North Battleford in the first round of the NSBL playoffs. Stone and his Cards topped his former team, the Saskatoon Commodores, four games to one with Stone going 1-1 in the finals. For his efforts, "Stoney" was named to the inaugural Team Canada for the 1967 Pan American Games. In game #2, Stone won Canada's first game as a National team by stopping Puerto Rico 3-2 on four hits before taking a 7-3 loss to Mexico after starting but pitching only two innings. He then suffered a complete-game 14-2 loss to the United States who went on to win the tournament.

   After a 5-3 season with a 1.32 ERA for the 2nd place 20-10 Cardinals in 1968, Ross Stone moved on and suited up with the Melville Millionaires of the Saskatchewan Southern Baseball League for two seasons where he posted 3-0 and 6-3 records respectively. The 1970 millionaires won an SSBL championship and Stone was named to the Saskatchewan Provincial team which competed in Brandon, Manitoba for a National title. After shutting out Prince Edward Island 13-0 in an early-round game, Stone took a 2-0 lead into the 9th inning against British Columbia in the final before loading the bases with one out. He was replaced and got saddled with the tough loss after a reliever gave up a hit, a walk and then walked in another for the game-winner.

   The next season, Stone returned to Unity where he ended his career as a Cardinal with a 4-0 record and 46-14 overall (.767 winning percentage) thus becoming the most successful pitcher in Unity and Northern Saskatchewan Baseball League history. He holds all-time single-season and career Cardinal and NSBL records for victories, winning percentage, earned run average, complete games, strikeouts, and shutouts. That winter, Stone once again became a member of Canada's National Baseball team and started on the mound in Canada's 2-0 victory over the Dominican Republic.



   Ross Stone's former manager Roy Taylor had also managed the Kamsack Cyclones of the Manitoba-Saskatchewan Baseball League in 1953. His catcher was Bob Bennett from Fresno State who later would become the Bulldogs' head coach. Both managers would become legendary coaches and rank among the nation's all-time most successful coaches in U.S. collegiate history. Manager Andrew Newton and his Dauphin Redbirds also competed in the Man-Sask League during the early 1950s and both Taylor and Bennett would supply his team with import pitching during the late sixties and early seventies. Dauphin was a charter member of Manitoba's premier Manitoba Senior Baseball League that began in 1961, however, with the exception of 1970, the Redbirds were mostly bottom feeders in the tough MSBL, producing only two successful seasons in the past eleven years. In 1971, Dauphin finished dead last in the standings at 5-15 record with their two Fresno St. imports combining to go 1-3 and batting .152 and .154. Both quit the team at midseason and returned to Calif. Never again, would Newton pick up the phone and ask Fresno coach Bob Bennett for help. Enter Ross Stone and Dave Rottman.

   Ross Stone, his wife Sharon and two children were provided with room and board (a cottage at Dauphin Lake) plus $500/month in exchange for pitching seven or eight games each summer (1972-1976). The Dauphin Golf and Country Club lay just a few hundred yards away which was evident by the uppercut "Stoney's" swing on the ball field. The kids canoed, swam and fished by day while the Stone's bar-b-qued lakeside at night. It was more like going on a summer vacation while spending Wednesday nights and Saturday afternoons at the ballpark. Stone, with the facial features of a Paul Newman, had Cool Hand Luke written all over him while toeing the pitcher's rubber -- smooth, confident, unwavering, cool, calm, and collected -- never rattled.

   With the addition of the now 32-year-old Stone and 22-year-old Rottman's return from Dauphin's banner year in 1970, the Redbirds immediately gained respectability by reaching the playoffs and winning the league's prestigious Kinsmen Tournament. They finished the season at 18-14 with Stone posting a 1-2 pitching record however the dynamic lefty-righty duo would go on to anchor Dauphin's most potent pitching staff in team history. In 1973, the Redbirds captured their first MSBL pennant and best winning percentage (.700) in team history with their MSBL best 14-6 record. The pitching staff's 74 runs allowed was the league's fewest and a Redbird record, as were their four shutouts with Stone tossing two of those white-washings (8-0 against the Souris Cardinals to end the regular season and 1-0 versus those same Cards to open the first round of the MSBL playoffs). Stone was also involved in a game that produced 34 strikeouts (an MSBL record) with Stone collecting thirteen in Dauphin's 9-3 victory over Bruce Bremer and his Virden Oilers. Stone led Dauphin's pitching staff with his 5-1 record, however, once again, as in 1970, the Redbirds had to bow out of the league's finals due to lack of players.

   In 1974, Rottman left the team to join the Binscarth Orioles and the Redbirds once again slipped into the cellar with their 5-15 record. Ross Stone won all five of those games and finished the season at 5-2 including a 2-1 victory over Rottman and his O's at Redbird Park. Rottman returned to Dauphin the following year, 1975, and once again the dynamic duo produced record results. Dauphin went from worst to first by capturing the MSBL North Division pennant with her then all-time and league-best 15-5 record (.750 win %). The staff's four shutouts equaled her team record of 1973 with Stone blanking Binscarth 5-0 in the first round of the playoffs. He finished the regular season with a 3-1 record and 5-2 overall including two post-season victories.

   Ross Stone was a Saskatchewan teacher by trade and due to teaching commitments, had to leave Dauphin before the end of the playoffs. Once again, the Redbirds failed to win a championship due to lack of players as several members of the Redbirds were professional hockey players and had to report to hockey camps. "Ol' Stoney" as he was called in Dauphin pitched one final season for the Redbirds in 1976. Age and thousands of innings pitched had taken it's toll as he slipped to 2-5 for the last place 5-21 roller-coaster-ride Redbirds. Still, while pitching only half a season and well into his thirties, he amassed a 16-11 career regular-season record for the Redbirds. His career .593 winning percentage ranks as Dauphin's 2nd best all-time and would be considered as Dauphin's greatest left-handed pitcher of all-time. Ross Stone won 71 regular-season games during his semi-pro career while only losing 23 for a career .755 winning percentage. He pitched for six different teams in five different leagues not to mention two stints with Canada's National team and once with the Saskatchewan Provincial team. In 2009, "Ol' Stoney" was inducted into the Saskatchewan Baseball Hall of Fame. His teaching career ended in the northern region of Vancouver Island, British Columbia.


Jay-Dell Mah's Western Canada Baseball

The Brandon Sun

The Dauphin Herald

first-hand knowledge

                                               ROSS STONE