The Kamsack Cyclones Baseball Team has been selected to be inducted into the Saskatchewan Baseball Hall of Fame, Aug. 15 in Battleford.
A devastating tornado that struck the Town of Kamsack on Aug. 9, 1944, referred to by the locals as a “Cyclone,” prompted the naming of the local baseball team the “Cyclones.” Over the years that team name was used in every category from peewee up to all local young men and to all or partial American imports.
The late 1940s to the mid 1950s were the golden years of baseball in North Eastern Saskatchewan, and in particular, Kamsack. Baseball fever was rampant throughout the Canadian Prairies during this time. The Kamsack Times of Oct. 28, 1948, stated that local baseball executives expressed a desire to import a “Black” American coach who would coach all levels of baseball in the community. The town got what they asked for and soon Jesse Bradley had things humming in the railway town.
In 1949, a new baseball diamond opened on Madge Lake, in Duck Mountain Provincial Park, some 15 miles east of Kamsack. Sunday double headers soon became popular during the summer months. In fact, Roy Taylor and his college imports were housed in cottages at the lake.
American import Dave Whatley joined the Cyclones in 1949, followed by Travis Taylor in 1950. Roy Taylor from the College of Sequoias Physical Education and Athletic staff in Visalia, California, came as playing coach of the Cyclones in 1952. Roy also brought with him, Len Tucker from the St. Louis Cardinal farm team and several players from Taylors school. Taylor coached the Saskatoon 55’s in 1951, and Kamsack in 1952, 1953 and 1954. Then in 1955 and 1956, he coached the Moose Jaw Mallards and in 1958 and 1959, the Saskatoon Commodores.
The Kamsack Times reported the Kamsack Cyclones as having the most successful season ever, in 1952, having played with skill, sportsmanship and a distinctive air both on and off the field with much of the credit going to Roy Taylor.
During these years, the Cyclones played league, tournament and exhibition baseball. In 1953, they won the ManSask League Championship with a record of 35 wins out of 41 games. In 1954 they won 40 of 46 tournament and exhibition games, including the prestigious Indian Head Tournament, home of the Indian Head Rockets!
Exhibition games on the prairies included the touring Muskogee Cardinals, the San Francisco Sea Lions, the Ligon All Stars, California Mohawks and Nashville Stars, with most of them finding their way to Kamsack. One of the feature acts with the Sea Lions was Little Sammy Workman, who without hands or feet could hit, pitch and catch a ball.
Taylor frequently took Saskatchewan players back with him to the college in the off season. Bob Holowaty of Melfort and Dave Kostenuik of Hyas, both exceptional pitchers, are two examples of members of the Cyclones who made the trek south. Holowaty, now in Saskatoon, was inducted into the Saskatchewan Baseball Hall of Fame in 2003.
Cyclone baseball memorabilia and history is on display in Kamsack and will still be a topic of conversation if you encounter someone who was there when the Kamsack Cyclones were the talk of the town.
The Saskatchewan Baseball Hall of Fame Scholarship Award is presented annually to a baseball player under 18 years of age, who plans to further pursue his/her baseball career. For information, email saskbaseballmuseum @sasktel.net for an application form.