Baseball museum honours Saskatchewan sports history in a really big way - InfoNews

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Baseball museum honours Saskatchewan sports history in a really big way

"Canada's Biggest Bat" is seen outside of the Saskatchewan Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Battleford, Sask. in this undated handout photo. You don't have to be a fan of baseball to visit the Saskatchewan Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Battleford, Sask., but it helps. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Saskatchewan Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum *MANDATORY CREDIT*
April 02, 2018 - 8:59 AM

BATTLEFORD, Sask. - You don't have to be a baseball fan to visit the Saskatchewan Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

For many people, it's Canada's largest baseball bat sitting outside the hall that gets them through the door.

The museum, which honours the history of baseball in Saskatchewan, was the dream of lawyer Dave Shury, who died nine years ago. His wife Jane still runs the Battleford attraction and estimates it draws about 3,000 visitors every year.

"Baseball in Saskatchewan originated in the Battlefords, out on the grounds of Fort Battleford," she says.

"On May 31, 1879 the first recorded baseball game in the history of the Northwest Territories was played here."

At that time, Battleford was the capital of the Northwest Territories, which included Saskatchewan and Alberta.

"Baseball was such a big part of all Saskatchewan. It played a big role in the settling and development of the province," says Shury.

In addition to its pictures and artifacts, the museum hosts an annual induction ceremony to honour individuals who have contributed to the province's baseball history.

The bat — 15.2 metres in length and made of fibreglass — is in its third incarnation. It now holds the distinction of being Canada's largest bat, eclipsing a 14.9-metre statue in Edmonton in 2014.

The first version of the bat was made in Meadow Lake, Sask., and carved out of a tree that was donated to the museum at a previous location. But it fell and shattered into pieces when it was lifted to move to a new location.

Shury says apparently the tree hadn't been cured properly before it received a protective coating, which caused the inside to rot and made it fragile.

A second bat was made out of lumber and put together in pieces, but it also fell apart after being exposed to the elements.

The current and more-durable fibreglass bat, a popular attraction for visitors who want to take selfies, is sitting on a stand in front of the museum.

"It's going to stay," says Shury.

She says nine Saskatchewan-born men have played in the major leagues.

The first was Ralph Stanley Buxton, who pitched a total of 19 games in the American League, five in 1938 for Philadelphia Athletics and 14 in 1949 for the New York Yankees.

Others include Reginald Leslie Cleveland, who by the end of the 1976 season had pitched 229 games in the majors for St. Louis and Boston. In 1975, he was the first Saskatchewan-born player to appear in the World Series.

Terry Puhl made the big leagues as an outfielder in 1977 and by the end of 1980 had appeared in 507 games.

If You Go...

— Check out the Western Development Museum, which celebrates artifacts that represent the innovation, creativity and resourcefulness that are part of Saskatchewan's heritage.

— Visit the Fort Battleford National Historic Site which outlines its role in the Northwest Rebellion.

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Follow @BillGraveland on Twitter

News from © The Canadian Press, 2018
The Canadian Press

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