History of the A's

 
 

A's Struck With Season Suspensions

 
 

FOUR  ATHLETICS  AND  REFEREE  BARRED  BY  O.L.A. 

The St. Catharines Standard 

Saturday February 26, 1949 

TORONTO (CP) – For taking part in lacrosse games in Rochester N. Y., the Ontario Lacrosse Association  executive suspended six players and an official for the 1949 O. L. A. playing season. 

They were Roy Morton, William Nelson, Stuart Scott and James McMahon of the 1948 St. Catharines senior club; W. Evans and J. Hogan, who played early in the 1948 session for Hamilton, and George Cleverly, St. Catharines referee. 

The Association said the players lined up with the Rochester club of the United States National Lacrosse League and that Cleverley served as a referee at some of the Rochester games. 

The O. L. A. executive ruled that in so doing, the seven acted without O. L. A. permission and in violation of its constitution. 

The executive granted a senior A franchise to the Peterborough club, which made the 1948 senior B championship a runaway. It also gave Weston lacrosse club the senior A franchise given up after the 1948 season by Weston West Yorks. 

These moves ensured the Association of a 1949 senior loop including at least eight teams – St. Catharines, Hamilton, Fergus, Brampton, Owen Sound, Mimico, Weston and Peterborough. 

The outstanding player award for 1948 was given to Joe Cheevers, playing coach of the Hamilton Tigers, Ontario and Canadian champions. With the award goes the Jimmy Murphy trophy and the Charles Querrie medal.


SPORT DONE BROWNE 

by CLAYTON BROWNE 

The St. Catharines Standard 

Wednesday April 27, 1949 

Dan Millar is a fighter for the right, as everyone identified with box lacrosse will admit. He would have to be, to become a past president of the O. L. A. and also go through the wars from the ground up in the parent Athletics organization. For any official gets a great grounding in tactics, right here in this hotbed of boxla, where spirited verbal combat is only outdone by the solons in the annuals. 

So Dan Millar, like the late Judge Landis of baseball, looked for loopholes in armor and the lone one he could find to counteract the ban on senior players being bound to their O. L. A. clubs in the off-season was to try and have it legislated out. He didn’t succeed last weekend at Toronto, but he did gain a point. 

A’s financial wizard is right and there isn’t a sport in the wide world that attempts to control the destinies of their players in the off-season, except pro hockey, baseball and football. Nor do they, except where the athlete indulges in a pastime likely to incur “breakage” and so injure the paid star and render him unfit for duty the next season. Such cases are counted on the fingers of one hand. 

Let’s take the O. L. A. side of the quiz, too. The moguls rightly believed Ontario players and teams were exploited terrifically and ridiculously by the U. S. promoters in the winter box loop play. No doubt of that, when certain gates run to $3,500 a game and the Canadian stars (including boys of this Garden City) slid over the border and were rewarded with the princely sum of $5 per game. That’s sheer robbery, but it was fun for A’s and if they worked 20 games, it paid the winter coal bill. 

So the O. L. A. set a minimum scale of pay-for-play with a bonus clause on heavy gates and that was agreed, until the smooth U. S. operators fancied too much money was hopping out for the $3 top seats patrons. Then they began to pay underneath. It was still gravy for the A’s so near to the source of supply and eager-beavers on the take business and when it looked like an imposition, the O. L. A. stepped in. 

They warned the clubs and boxla boys to desist, or suffer suspension. A’s and various players “snuck” across, the O. L. A. scouted them and then issued the edict. No great fault could be found, since all hands were warned, only the players evidently thought the parent body was bluffing. 

How will the ban on five A’s affect rival teams? Plenty and then some. So Hamilton’s champions Tigers sensed the fact that Athletics are their best drawing card at Cannon Bowl and they aided with A’s in having the players declared free agents. Other clubs must have, too, to force a poll decided by one vote. We’d guess public sympathy counts some and the fact the ban tends towards utter dictatorship. 

Every little point counts and as far as senior A’s go, they have another doughty warrior in ex-coach Art Brown of the parent executive, who understands the cited instance in A’s club and believes like the rest of us, its unjust and everything else that begins with an “un,” even including unbelievable in legislation. 

Pretty much all of the above has been of pessimistic nature as regards the A’s and the 1949 prospects. There’s a brighter side though, which we saved for the last. Pres. Fred Conradi informs us that Pres. G. A. Stauffer of T-P Co. established contact with Ike Hildebrand of Los Angeles of the pro coast loop and there is a fair possibility Ike may play for the double-blues in 1949.


SPORT DONE BROWNE 

by CLAYTON BROWNE 

The St. Catharines Standard 

Wednesday May 18, 1949 

As every day passes, the truth is being brought home stronger each day. Our St. Kitts senior Athletics are in for a very tough season and it looks much as if they are going to pay the penalty for being Mann Cup champions too often. Such had “griped the innards” of rival cities and towns for years past, when the double-blues would come through in the stretch drive and cop the O. L. A. crown, then walk on into the Mann Cup and bring the $2,500 mug here. 

Other clubs could import all they wanted, some with an unbeatable squad (on paper), yet, when the blue chips were down, it was the Garden City to get the marbles, reputation, prestige and so forth and be honoured by their native city. That’s why the name of St. Kitts is embossed on the Sir Donald Mann gold trophy for five years of the last ten. In short, A’s won it as often as every other city in Canada put together. 

The old college try, battling team spirit, or what-have-you, is on demand for 1949, for you lacrosse lovers ably follow the trend of the times. Fred K. Conradi, Dan Millar and the boxla solons made big plans for this summer. They arranged for Ike Hildebrand to come east and join Fred (brother) of the Teepee pucksters, to form a super-smart clicking brace of scoring forwards that were destined for big things…we hoped. 

For Ike Hildebrand, who wears a Leaf hockey tag on the Los Angeles team of the PCHL, led the B. C. boxla circuit in 1948 with the nifty total of 110 points. That was more than 20 beyond the scope of his nearest point-getter. In his home city of New Westminster, under Pres. F. F. (Rick) Foote, a native of Port Dalhousie, the plans of A’s would have surely made a ten-strike here…not to mention some disaster to the enemy units of the Ontario circuit. 

Then illness had to hit the infant member of Ike Hildebrand’s family and with the possibility of facing a 3,000-mile motor trip from sunny California, Ike Hildebrand wired brother Fred here that “the deal was off.” Such came to light in last Friday’s issue and what was expected to be a strike now becomes a standing four-pin. 

So Athletics will be forced to depend on home talent and relying on the grim, battling team spirit that faced them in cup-winning years. Truly no sinecure for Jack McMahon (coach). 

Athletic boxla woes started in the late winter, with the suspension of no less than five players for indulging in the U. S. winter loop. Nor can any legal light here, or elsewhere, do a single, solitary thing. The rule is in the senior constitution, giving the O.L.A. executive the power to regulate players in their activities outside Canada, or in leagues other than of Ontario jurisdiction. 

The long redeeming clause (as to penalty) also rests with the O.L.A. They can make it a month, two, three, a season or entire year, for player suspension, as they deem advisable. With them, the word is that there are no extenuating circumstances. The team was warned, the players ditto and they are alleged to have gone into the U. S. with both eyes open and knowing the full consequences. Such is the information this desk gets from headquarters, where we attempted to “horn in,” scanning the whole set-up for a loophole of legal technicalities. 

The box solons claim sympathy with the A’s, but admit pressure from club players who refuse to budge an inch and say St. Kitts must pay the penalty. The poison barb is that the loss of three key men will definitely weaken the A’s and reduce them to the status of being exactly what rivals hope, a soft touch for Mimico, Hamilton, Brampton, Weston, Owen Sound and Peterboro. 

A’s can ill spare Billy Nelson, "Stu" Scott and Jimmy McMahon of the senior roster. Roy Morton has retired now and George Cleverley is in the refs category. But, visualize what the Conradi-Millar-McMahon club has to do here this term. They are forced to bring up half a dozen ex-juniors, some just juveniles yet, to fill the breach. While enemy clubs flaunt their imports and strong squads. 

Nevertheless, A’s will carry on and they had 18 boys out last week and this in stiff drills for the O.L.A. opener here Saturday night with Mimico. "Pilot" McMahon is working a system of plays designed to cover the new goal rules, the nets being set 12 feet out and play permitted behind. Doubtless, other clubs are doing likewise. By A’s, it is a super-smart play, if accurately timed. 

Such friends, is the current senior A’s situation, or one team against the wide world. We’ll have to fight doubly hard here and away, fan loyalty has to respond to the limits of patronage, in the face of counter attractions, to provide a competent contender. We’ve had to do it before and came through. If everyone hops into action and gets behind the A’s, you’ll see some rare battles in Haig Bowl, but it assuredly requires everything at our command to win.

This picture appeared in the St. Catharines Standard on May 12, 1949 and shows coach Jack "Wandy" McMahon watching as retired legend Roy "Pung" Morton checks the fit of his old number nine jersey on young Don Frick

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