Annex’s own cher­ished baseball team

Beloved Maple Leaf’s alumni in­clude baseball stars Pete Orr and Rich But­ler

Annex Post - - NEWS - By Ge­orge Redak

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

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