The Town of Battleford will be inducted into the Saskatchewan Baseball Hall of Fame’s community category Aug. 18.
This submission is the result of detailed research done by the founder of the hall of game, the late David Shury.
On May 31, 1879, Battleford was the site of the first recorded baseball game in the history of the Northwest Territories, of which Battleford was the capital. The game was in celebration of Queen Victoria’s 60th birthday.
Two scratch teams, the North West Mounted Police and the Townspeople were captained by Robert and Richard Wyld. The score was 18-15, with Richard the winning captain.
In 1886, the Gardiner Presbyterian Church, was built with bricks fired locally by Thomas Dewan for a price of $2,375. This was the first home of the Saskatchewan Baseball Museum.
On May 29, 1907, Old Town and North Town played in a well contested baseball game, with Old Town winning 6-3.
July 3 of the same year, another game between North Town and Old Town had North Town win 26-3.
In 1908, the Battleford baseball team used the railway extensively to get the team from town to town.
In 1910, the cost of a full baseball uniform was $4, bats were 25 cents gloves were 40 cents, a catcher’s mitt was 85 cents and second hand equipment was still more attractive.
In 1913 the Battleford Baseball Club was named league champs.
Campbell Innes, principal of Battleford Collegiate Institute, built the Battleford High School sports dynasty during the 1920s. He organized an exhibition, six-week tour throughout Northern Saskatchewan and Eastern Alberta, with the Battleford Collegiate Institute taking the Saskatchewan Championship
In 1928 and ’29, BCI Senior Baseball Team were Northern Saskatchewan Intercollegiate Champions.
June 18, 1930, Chicago Coloured Giants played against Battleford, in Battleford.
In 1953, The Western Provincial Baseball League consisted of 11 teams, including Battleford.
In 1954, the Battlefords Miller Baseball Club entered the Prairie League and the next year won the Prairie League tournament.
In 1956, Battlefords Little League Baseball season began.
In 1957, Battleford Community Youth Club formed. The BCYC joined the Babe Ruth League the next season.
In 1959, David Shury joined BCYC. Dave’s notes state the club was always on the verge of bankruptcy, and maintained itself primarily by means of proceeds from a $100 a month draw. By 1982, the club operated with a budget nearing $120,000. This organization had an enviable record and was unique in the province.
In 1960, BCYC Babe Ruth Baseball Club were crowned Northwest champions. The team was coached by Jim Guedo and managed by Shury.
In 1973, Wayne Gretzky played baseball in the Battlefords, when the Canadian National Beaver Baseball Championships were held here. Gretzky was the winning pitcher for his team and the baseball signed by the players of the winning team includes that of Wayne Gretzky. This baseball is now on display at the Saskatchewan Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.
In 2010, Gretzky was the guest speaker for the Saskatoon Sportsman of the Year Award banquet. Ed Bryant, the recipient of the award, received a signed baseball from Gretzky for the museum to add to the collection.
In 1982 in part I of “Memories of BCYC”, in the Battleford Telegraph David W. Shury stated, ”I have always remained sympathetic to the aims and ambitions of the Town of Battleford and in particular, BCYC”. He noted there are numerous diamonds in the recreational complex, school yards and the river flats compared to the shortage of baseball diamonds in the old days.
In 2003, the permanent home for the Saskatchewan Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum became a reality at 292-22nd St. West, Battleford.
Presently, Battleford and North Battleford share a minor baseball association.