Baseball Summer Archives

November 12, 2008

Baseball Summer: The Story of the 1937 Smiths Falls Beavers

Hi gang,

OK, here's what happened. About 15 years ago I became interested in a local rumour/story about a professional baseball team that played in my home town a long time ago. I was a history teacher so I knew a bit about research. I spent over 3 years researching & writing the story of the minor league team that operated for only one year a long time ago. I made several visits to the library at the Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, the National Archives in Ottawa, libraries in Barre Vermont, Ogdensburg NY and several in Eastern Ontario. I visited one of the players outside Marcellus NY and made contact with many other players and/or their families/friends/teammates/acquaintances. In the process I learned a lot about my community, the late 1930's, the sport of baseball and a wonderful group of American athletes. I had a great time!

When I submitted my Ms. to a few regional publishers, the response was generally similar - well-written, interesting BUT too local AND a book about baseball AND all the players were American. I DID have an offer from one publisher, but I decided not to accept the terms. So my Ms. sat in a box until I read a favourable article about several months ago. is a self-publishing site/service that offers print-on-demand and other optional services. I updated my story & have recently made it available. Obviously it is not a traditional publishing house but I have been pleased with the results. Lulu makes money by selling books. The quality of the final product is quite good.

Baseball Summer focuses on the American players who spent one summer in a small town in Eastern Ontario a long time ago and includes 12+ pages of vintage photos and several pages of statistics. I also follow what happened to the players after their summer in Smiths Falls Ontario in 1937. Two made it to the major leagues - Xavier Rescigno with the Pittsburgh Pirates from 1943-45 and Walter Lanfranconi with the Chicago Cubs in 1940 and the Boston Braves in 1947.

A major surprise was discovering that Matt Christopher, the well-regarded author of sports books for younger readers, was an original members of the 1937 Smiths Falls Beavers. I enjoyed a personal correspondence with Matt for over a year & was saddened by his death.

I had a great time researching & writing this book. I don't expect (m)any people might be reading this to be interested in purchasing a copy, but here is a link to a description on Lulu :

Support independent publishing: buy this book on Lulu.

If you are interested in this book and want an autographed copy, contact me. Do not purchase via Lulu.


November 18, 2008

Book Launch scheduled!

Hi gang,

I decided to print my book, about a local minor league baseball team than existed for only one year a long time ago, via Lulu because of a favourable review/discussion I read about the site. I knew my book was of limited interest, but I received a big boost today. The local history museum contacted me about a sports history display they are mounting early in the new year. After a very brief discussion the museum curator offered to host a book launch in conjunction with the display and will also stock my title for sale at the museum.

It made my day!


January 8, 2009

Radio Interview

Sunday is my book launch at the local history museum for my recent publication Baseball Summer: The Story of the 1937 Smiths Falls Beavers.

The museum sent out a press release several days ago, which has resulted in 2 media appearances. Yesterday I was invited to an interview with the local radio station to discuss my book. The interview lasted for 15 minutes - about twice as long as the before-air estimate by the host. Everything went OK.

Tomorrow I am appearing on a local cable program to discuss the launch.

My book is also available on Amazon, but I expect most of my sales will be limited to a more local market.

January 22, 2009

Baseball Summer update

I now have 5 storefront outlets for my book in two different communities. Only 1 is a bookstore - others are the local museum, Chamber of Commerce office, florist/gift shop and art store. They were all very receptive to my book. The recent positive coverage in the area media (1 TV news program, 1 cable TV show, 2 radio interviews, 5 stories in 3 different newspapers including a daily paper in a larger community) has been great. I plan to increase and widen the availability of my book - pretty sure it will be relatively easy to do with the high profile my book has achieved. Many people seem to be intrigued by the story. I also think that it will have a relatively long shelf life locally. I guess I'll find out.

My marketing strategy was non-existent before the book was printed - but things are going pretty good.

Got a big boost today. One of my outlets called to say they had a single order for 10 copies of my book - & would I please come over to personalize a message in several of the copies, as well as replenish their stock. Another store said they would feature my book in their next print ad.

January 25, 2009

Brockville Recorder and Times, January 20, 2009

Following is the text of an article that appeared recently.

Rich sports history comes alive
Posted By Darcy Cheek, Staff Writer

The names of Percy LeSueur, Bill Cowley, Billy Smith, Don McKenney and Jason York may be familiar to some hockey fans but the fact they all once had a connection to Smiths Falls may not be as apparent.
For the next month and a half, the Smiths Falls Heritage House Museum is trying to change that knowledge of its past and present hockey stars, as well as numerous other sports personalities and clubs, with its current exhibit 'Sensational Smiths Falls Sports History.'
"It's still a work in progress," said museum educational programmer Randy Orr.
A work in progress that has gleaned items from the community and other area museums to illustrate the colourful sports history of Smiths Falls.
Hockey, baseball, lacrosse, curling, golf, figure skating and even canoeing are featured in the museum's exhibit until February 27.
"A lot of them are hockey players," Orr noted, acknowledging that sport as iconic to the area.
Orr said Katimavik volunteer Rielle Hanson was instrumental in putting together a lot of the information for the exhibit when she was with the museum this past summer.
"She did a lot of the research on the hockey and baseball, which is the main focus of the exhibit," said Orr.
Smiths Falls has an undeniable rich and impressive association to professional hockey, including three hall of fame members mentioned above, LeSueur, Cowley and Smith, and two of the three were goaltenders.
LeSueur was inducted for his play in the early 1900s, as well as his contribution to the advancement of goaltenders' equipment, and Smith is famous for his tenure with the multiple Stanley Cup champion New York Islanders of the 1980s. Cowley was a standout for the Boston Bruins in the 1930s and 1940s.
"(Cowley) also helped form the Smiths Falls Golf and Country Club," said Orr.
Other stars of the ice in the museum exhibit include Smiths Falls' curling history, which counts two unique artifacts in the second-floor showroom of the museum at 11 Old Sly's Road.
"We have an early granite rock from the 1920s and we also have a solid iron 'stone.' It's stamped with CPR on it," said Orr, remarking on the long association with the Canadian Pacific Railway and sports in the town.
Figure skating star Jeff Langdon is also featured in the exhibit as are other interesting and obscure pieces of Smiths Falls sporting history that the museum is trying to built on.
"We're still looking into more aspects we can develop," said Orr. "We're trying to displays aspects of the town's history a lot of people don't know about. There is so much history related to sports that people don't know."
Coinciding with the exhibit opening last week was also the launch of part of the town's sporting history almost lost to memory.

Retired Smiths Falls high school history teacher Doug Phillips, 15 years after his original research was conducted, launched a book on a unique part of the town's baseball history: Baseball Summer: The Story of the 1937 Smiths Falls Beavers.
"When I was a kid we played in what was once a wonderful ball field. There was a lot of talk about how big baseball used to be," said Phillips about first hearing of grand baseball bleachers surrounding a field, and the Smiths Falls Beavers.
The Beavers played in the Class C Canadian-American League, which in 1937 included teams from Brockville (Pirates) and Ogdensburg, N.Y. But if you were not here that summer of 1937, or even a decade later, the Beavers may have seemed like a myth.
"They were all American players and they were only here for one year," said Phillips.
Phillips said he was fortunate he started researching the Beavers when he did, back in the '90s, because many of the people he talked to, the players themselves and Smiths Falls residents who knew them, are no longer among the living.
"I couldn't do it today ... they're all gone," he said.
Phillips spent days and countless hours at the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y., as well as hours trying to track down some of these ball players who called Smiths Falls home for one short summer late in the Depression.
"Most of the players came up from around Syracuse. They were so happy to write about their experiences as young men," said Phillips, adding that to a man every ball player he spoke with said he appreciated his stay in Smiths Falls.
The museum has several artifacts from that 1937 season on display during the sports exhibit, and one local "treasure' also has a place in retelling the history of the Beavers.
"I was very fortunate to meet with a lady who ran a boarding house where the players stayed at that time," said Phillips of Elva Lorimer, who was 98 years old when he spoke with her about the ball players. "She was a jewel. She was the greatest local treasure I encountered."

Other Smiths Falls' local sporting treasures will be on display, as well as copies of Phillips' book, until February 27. The museum is open Monday to Friday, 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

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