Klaszus: Calgary historic baseball walk offers more home runs than strikes

From SABR member Jeremy Klaszus at the Calgary Herald on May 5, 2017:

George Brookman, the outspoken Calgary booster and CEO of West Canadian Digital Imaging, can still remember the day his family’s baseball dreams died. It was 1958, and Brookman, 12 years old at the time, burst into the family’s Mount Pleasant house after school to find his parents sitting at the table with long faces. They had bad news.

A year prior, George Brookman Sr., a real estate man, had high hopes for baseball in Calgary. He’d run a semi-pro team that played at the hamlet of Shepard just east of the city, where Brookman Jr. would help chase cows off the diamond. When he was lucky, the younger Brookman got to push around the little cart that put down the diamond’s brilliant white lines.

By 1957, Brookman Sr. had moved his team to the big city—into Buffalo Stadium, a compact riverside ballpark in Eau Claire. He dubbed his Calgary squad the “Brookman Dodgers,” bought them uniforms identical to those of the Brooklyn Dodgers and set about promoting the game. The Calgary Dodgers played in the semi-pro Foothills-Wheatbelt League, taking on the likes of the Granum White Sox and Vulcan Elks. The team drew large crowds on Sundays, but Alberta’s “blue laws” prevented the team from charging admission on that day, recalls Brookman Jr. And on weekdays, when the club charged a proper ticket price, attendance was lousy.

On the day Brookman Jr. came home to find his parents crestfallen, his father called him over and told him the news: the team was bankrupt. “And that was the end of it,” recalls Brookman Jr. “It broke my father’s heart.” Another business owner bought the team, but couldn’t make a go of it either.

So it goes with baseball in Calgary. It’s a heartbreaker. For 110 years, on and off, Calgary has seen amateur, semi-pro and professional baseball clubs—right up to triple-A, the highest level of minor league baseball. The game flares up and flickers out, never staying. The odds are against whoever tries: cruel weather, a weak Canadian dollar and fickle fan support have all conspired against Calgary club owners in the past.

Read the full article here: http://calgaryherald.com/feature/played-ball-historic-baseball-walk-offers-more-homeruns-than-strikes

Originally published: May 11, 2017. Last Updated: May 11, 2017.