Sporting Events of the Past

During the latter part of the first World War a number of professional baseball players from the United States took out homesteads in the Elk Point district. Some came to hunt big game, others to fish and trap and still others, it was rumored, came to avoid the United States army draft. These American ball players spent about two years in our area and each spring they would take off for parts unknown, some returned to their respective professional teams while others remained behind and played semi-pro ball in the Old Western Canada League with teams such as the Saskatoon Quakers. Naming a few of the more prominent players, they were "Ducky" Holmes who played shortstop with the Washington Senators of the American Baseball League, Phil Delor, Art Thielen, Bunny Fisher, George and Frank Schick, Alex Harper, and "Foot" Rhul. They spent about two winters in our district and after the war ended in 1918 they left for their homeland in the United States where they continued to play baseball. Nothing further was heard from them once they left our district.

Baseball was always a popular sport in our district during the early years. Many of our original settlers came from the United States and as baseball was their national sport, they continued their interest in the game after they immigrated to our district. Some of the early players well worth noting are Bill Bartling, Lloyd Lambright, Russel Milholland, Jens Aarbo, George Bartling and Oscar Holthe. Sports day in Elk Point was always celebrated on July 4. This was a major holiday in the U.S.A. and the early American settlers thought it would be appropriate to celebrate this day as they did while they were residents in the United States. Top money at these sports days was usually $100 for first prize and $50 for second and $25 for each of the third and fourth finisher. This was a lot of money in those days. Many sports days were held in the surrounding towns and Elk Point always competed and usually they won their share of tournaments.

Their most successful season was in 1939, the year they played in the Lloydminster ball tournament. Against top ranking competition they played and won all three games and never allowed a single run in 27 innings. They beat a team from Turtleford, Sask. 2-0, then beat a team from Vegreville 4-0, and then shut out Lloydminster 2-0 in the final game. Some of the players who played in this tournament were: Russel Milholland, catcher; James Millar, 1st base; Fanny Legore, 2nd base; Howard Robertson, 3rd base; and Vic McLean, short stop. The fielders were Floyd Cromwell, Shorty Palmer and Chester Merrick. This team had exceptionally good pitchers in Emerson "Buck" Eaton, who played many years in a semi-pro league in Edmonton, Henry Selland, who had all the ingredients to play major league baseball, Shorty Palmer, who was not only a good pitcher but also a good fielder and last but not least, Willie Wenzel. Willie was not big in stature but one who had lots of desire and ambition. He loved the game and always gave it his best shot. There is no doubt in my mind that this was by far the best baseball team ever to come out of Elk Point as well as from the surrounding district.

Boxing was a popular sport in Elk Point during the early 1920s. Some professional and semi-pro bouts were staged in Elk Point and at Mooswa, which is now Lindbergh. The promoter of these matches was Billy Sherrard, a professional boxer who originally came from Montana. Phil Kirkham who was the middleweight champion of Western Canada in 1923 fought Jimmy Plain in Elk Point in an exhibition match. Shortly after, Phil Kirkham fought Billy Morrison in Mooswa and defeated him in twelve rounds. Many of you will remember Billy Morrison. He lived in the LandonviIle district for many years. He was an ardent golfer, hockey and baseball player as well as a noted big game hunter. He passed away in the Myrnam hospital about nine years ago at the age of 94 or more.

Many other boxing matches were promoted in the surrounding larger towns in Alberta and Saskatchewan by Billy Sherrard. After he retired from promoting boxing matches, he spent a considerable amount of time in our district. Some of the older residents may still remember him.