Glew: Looking back at the 1954 Montreal Royals

From SABR member Kevin Glew at Cooperstowners in Canada on September 15, 2012:

His first professional baseball contract was signed in a quintessentially Canadian setting.

New Brunswick native Billy Harris was competing in a hockey tournament in Buchans, Nfld., when Brooklyn Dodgers scout Bill O’Connor secured the stocky 19-year-old’s signature on a piece of paper.

Although the five-foot-seven Harris was a standout stickhandler, it was his right arm – and not his slap shot – that would serve as his ticket to a professional sports career.

During his Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame induction speech in St. Marys, Ont., in June 2008, Harris recounted hopping on a train in Dorchester, N.B., to head to the Dodgers’ spring training facility in Vero Beach, Fla., in 1951.

When the train stopped in New York, a big husky, athletic looking guy (who Harris declined to name in his speech) boarded and sat close to Harris. The two eventually struck up a conversation and discovered that they were both destined for the Dodgers’ camp.

“He looked at me and said, ‘You’re not going to make it,’” recalled Harris. “And I said, ‘Why?’ And he said, ‘You’re way too small.’ Well, it just so happened that we got on the same team in spring training, and after four months he got released and I was there (in professional baseball) for 16 years.”

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Originally published: September 17, 2012. Last Updated: September 17, 2012.