While baseball may be America’s pastime, its history in the city of Brantford is a strong one. And perhaps no name is more synonymous with Brantford ball than that of the team’s semi-pro team, the Red Sox.
This year is a special one for the Red Sox. Not only because they are searching for their fourth consecutive league championship. Instead, the year will be historic because it marks the organization’s centennial anniversary.
Founded in 1911, the Red Sox are the oldest team in the Intercounty Baseball League, Canada’s oldest baseball league. With an honour like that, the Red Sox have some clout in Canadian baseball.
On June 17, the Red Sox celebrated in style, taking on the Kitchener Panthers as a throwback to their first ever game on May 19, 1911, when they faced a team from what was then now as Berlin.
The grandstands at the famous Arnold Anderson Stadium were packed, while alumnus from as far back as the 1940’s gathered to remember the years of Brantford baseball.
One former player, Gary Bitz, spoke of the triumph that is baseball remaining popular in the city, through all of the downfalls the sport has endured in Canada.
Adrian Aucoin, President of the Red Sox, spoke about the large crowd and fanbase that came out to celebrate the anniversary.
“I’m overwhelmed by the crowd,” Aucoin told a local newspaper the night of the game. “There’s no room for anyone else. It’s like the old days, when if you couldn’t afford to pay, you sat on top of your car and watched.”
Meanwhile, those in the crowd discussed the famous players they watched throughout the years. The one name that kept coming up was Ron Stead, a pitcher considered to be a legend in the IBL. In the league’s history, Stead ranks first in wins, strikeouts, shutouts, appearances, and complete games, during his time in the league, where he also led Brantford to five straight league championships from 1959 to 1963, and another in 1965.
Bitz, a member of the 1981 championship team, spoke of the win as the greatest moment during his time with the franchise.
Meanwhile, the current players are making history themselves.
Looking to capture their fourth straight championship, and fifth in six years, the Red Sox have become one of the more known teams in the semi-pro circuit.
The future looks bright, as fan support and interest is climbing again, not just for baseball in Brantford, but across Canada’s younger generations.
Aucoin believes the team can last another hundred years, but believes they may need a new home to help make that a reality.
Regardless of where they play, it’s safe to say that the fact that Brantford’s team has survived this long speaks volumes of the way the community sees the franchise as a part of itself.