Thursday, 21 October 2010

Field Trip - Celebrate the Harvest Luncheon

Alisdair and I had an interesting "Field Trip" today -- attending a business luncheon and then taking an interesting tour.

Not long ago I received a letter in the mail. Inside was an invitation that said: "As a valued member of our reporting team, you are invited to a "Celebrate the Harvest" luncheon compliments of Battlefords Publishing on Thursday, October 21 at 12:00 Noon, Pennydale Junction, Battleford. The luncheon will be followed by a tour of the Saskatchewan Baseball Hall of Fame." It also noted that spouses were welcome to attend. Unfortunately, John was scheduled to be on shift behind the wheel of the semi, and was unable to participate. And so Alisdair stepped in and was my companion for the event.

The Pennydale Junction Restaurant is a slice of history on it's own. According to the Town of Battleford website,"the Pennydale Junction Restaurant, which is located at 92 - 22nd Street West, was once the original Canadian National Railway Depot." Other interesting facts the site offers state that it was built in 1911, and "the building was sold to the Town of Battleford in 1973, and in 1975 it was moved to its present location. In 1981 the building was declared a Municipal Heritage Property. Since 1977 it has been the Pennydale Junction Restaurant providing quality dining while surrounding one in the comfortable nostalgia captured within the old CNR station."

Alisdair ordered his all time favourite meal - baked lasagna and garlic bread, while I had an omlet. The food is always delicious at Pennydale and today was no exception to that rule. Each reporter received a free pen and Alisdair won a door prize - a backpack inscribed with the Battlefords Publishing logo.

While some of the attendees at the luncheon had other obligations and could not take in the tour, many of us did take the short journey to The Saskatchewan Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum Association Inc., which is located at 292 - 22nd Street West, in Battleford.

A brochure from this organization reveals that "the Saskatchewan Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum was founded by Dave Shury in 1983. Membership has grown from 125 in the first year to over 700. The Directors are all volunteers and represent all corners of the province. It has an outstanding display of baseball memorabilia including artifacts, photos, papers, books and more."

It also notes the purpose of the organization is to "collect, preserve, research, house, exhibit and interpret objects and written materials that best illustrate the history of baseball in Saskatchewan from 1879 to the present and to honour those responsible for our great baseball heritage."

We were given a tour by Dave's widow, Jane Shury, who is the President and CEO of the Museum.

She began by explaining to us about the significance of the mural on the exterior of the Museum. The story is also recounted on the brochure:

"A Historic Flashback - Battleford is the site of the first recorded Baseball Game played in the North-West Territories. Two pickup teams played the nine inning game. The pitcher, then called the bowler, stood 13.5 meters from the batter and delivered the ball underhand to a location requested by the batter. The catcher caught the ball on the first bounce. The batter was out when thrown out on a base or if a fly ball was caught on the run or on the first bounce. The final score on May 31, 1879 was 18 - 15 for the team captained by Richard Wyld." Each year, as close to this date as possible, the organization hosts a reenactment of this historic event.

Jane told us about a special baseball in the collection that is signed by "The Great One" himself - Wayne Gretzky. In 1973, Wayne was pitching for an Ontario team that came to the Battlefords to compete. When Ontario won the championship, they autographed a ball and Dave Shury kept it for many years, not knowing, one day that Wayne Gretzky would become a very famous hockey player! At a recent event, in Saskatoon, Gretzky signed another baseball that was added to the display cabinet.

Many, many, many more signed baseballs line the walls of the Museum.

And, what's a baseball, without a special ball glove to go with it?

Of course, even the "Mighty Casey" needed a bat...

Then there are retired trophies, uniforms from various and sundry teams, and even baseball hats...

Since we hail from Neilburg, we were pleased to find some artifacts from our very own Village ...

Crests from Neilburg:

and a sepia photograph of the Neilburg All Stars Baseball Club, who were the winners of the National Life Trophy at the Saskatoon Exhibition in 1934. The team were also finalists in the Northern Saskatchewan Senior Baseball playoffs.

Many more hours could be spent, if one was inclined, in researching the sport of baseball in our Province. If you happen to visit, don't forget to say hello to "George" the friendly mannequin near the entrance. Even he has a story to tell! And if you can't understand his quiet manner, just ask Jane for the details behind the man in uniform who stands on guard at the Museum.

The Museum is open Monday through Friday, during July and August, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. From September through June the open hours are slightly modified, closing at 2 p.m. daily. They are closed on weekends and holidays, year round, but are happy to open the Museum for tours at any time, if prior arrangements have been made.

"Take me out to the ball game,
Take me out with the crowd.
Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack,
I don't care if I never get back,
Let me root, root, root for the home team,
If they don't win it's a shame.
For it's one, two, three strikes, you're out,
At the old ball game."

- Jack Norworth

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