Annex’s own cherished baseball team
Beloved Maple Leaf’s alumni include baseball stars Pete Orr and Rich Butler
The Toronto Maple Leafs baseball team celebrated its 50th anniversary this year. Since 1969, the Intercounty Baseball League team has provided the Christie Pits neighbourhood with family-friendly entertainment in the form of high-level baseball for free while giving top-end baseball prospects a chance to showcase their talents.
However, this small baseball team’s history began much earlier. The franchise can actually trace its roots to the early 20th century. Acting as an affiliate team for Major League Baseball clubs, the Maple Leafs gained significant popularity in Toronto. One of the most famous moments in franchise history took place in 1914 when a 19-year-old kid smacked his first-ever home run. Back then, the original stadium was on Hanlan’s Point. The kid’s name was Babe Ruth –– legend has it that the ball is still somewhere at the bottom of Lake Ontario.
In 1967, the original Toronto Maple Leafs baseball team was transferred to Louisville, Ky., but a new one, the one that survives today, was founded by Jack Dominico.
Over the years, this new incarnation of the Maple Leafs has won a total of eight championships, finishing first in its division 20 times.
“The ultimate goal [is to win],” said team owner Jack Dominico. “That is the culture. As long as these guys get along and have fun, that is the name of the game.” Although the Maple Leafs have not been able to bring home a championship in over 10 years now, the team’s value to the community transcends its success on the field.
“I have enjoyed the experience at the ballpark since I was a little kid,” said councillor Mike Layton of Ward 19. “I went to Palmerston Public School, which is about three blocks away, and that was one of the summertime activities that you do when you live in the neighbourhood.
One of the team’s greatest accomplishments, aside from winning, has been the ability to recognize great baseball talent.
Notable alumni of this neighbourhood team include former major leaguer Pete Orr and outfielders and brothers Rich and Rob Butler as well as former Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Paul Spoljaric.
A disappointing 2018 regular season campaign resulted in a wins-tolosses record of 16 to 18 going into the playoffs. After overcoming the Guelph Royals 3–2 in the first round, the Leafs were swept by the Kitchener Panthers in the semifinal, bringing an end to their 50th season.
I have enjoyed the experience at the ballpark since I was a little kid.”
Jon Solazzo from the Intercounty Baseball League’s Maple Leafs