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Quite a baseball prospect left-hander Billy McIsaac


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Growing up in River Hebert, Billy McIsaac was the son of both a coal miner and a baseball player. His father Ron McIsaac played for Joggins, Maccan, Amherst and Parsboro over the years.

Enjoying a recent visit with Billy and Joan McIsaac at their Valley home, the well-known former baseball player recalled: "I didn't really play organized baseball until I was 15 years of age. My dad came home one day and told me that the baseball team in Joggins was holding tryouts. I reported and after that I remember walking the four miles from River Hebert to Joggins for baseball.

"As young ball players, we were quite often asked to pick rocks off the field - we each had a bucket."

After the 1961 season and playing first base and the outfield, and breaking in as a hard throwing left-handed pitcher in bantam baseball with the Joggins Giants, two seasons of playing midget ball in Joggins followed.

It was in 1962 at 17 years of age that Billy McIsaac was given a tryout with the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park in Boston.

When asked to recall memories of that outstanding occasion, the local resident responded: "I can remember being awful nervous and being told that I could pitch 'C' ball. It certainly was a super experience and I think that overall I threw the ball pretty good. In looking back, pitching at Fenway Park in Boston is something I'll never forget."

After employment took McIsaac to Galt, Ont., where he worked in a BB gun factory, he was contacted in early 1965 regarding pitching junior baseball in Truro for a team coached by Gordie Mont and managed by Gordon Schurman.

"It was a great move for me as I would go on to play most of my baseball under Gordie Mont and it was at the TAAC Grounds that the greatest thing ever took place for me - I met my future wife Joan, Gordon Scurman's daughter, through baseball," Billy said.

The 1965 baseball season also saw McIsaac make the Nova Scotia junior team and attend the Canadian championships in Winnipeg.

In 1966 he would play his first of many seasons with the Truro Bearcats in both intermediate and senior ranks.

Besides being recalled in the familiar local saying, 'Mont and McIsaac,' local baseball followers are still overheard from time to time reflecting on exciting moments and highlights which the highly-competitive Bearcat southpaw played an important part in.

Intermediate and senior provincial baseball championship seasons were enjoyed while playing for Truro and winning a Maritime title while playing under his coach and friend Gordie Mont is also special to McIsaac. Add to that yet another N.S. championship during a season starring with the Antigonish Bulldogs.

It was during 1969 that McIsaac played for Nova Scotia in the the Canada Summer Games.

In 1974 he again represented Nova Scotia, as he was picked up by Sydney for the Canadian senior championships played in North Battleford-Grand Prairie, Alta.

Although playing mostly at first base, while pitching in relief during tournament play, McIsaac did not allow a base hit or a run.

During closing ceremonies and with Nova Scotia receiving silver medals for finishing second, it may have been McIsaac's finest moment in baseball, as when the medal was placed around his neck he received a long applause and a standing ovation from the large crowd.

Overall, the brilliant southpaw pitcher, clean-up hitting first baseman and batting champion, was chosen on four occasions to represent his home province - Nova Scotia.

Employment locally has included a year and a half as a cutter at Stanfield's Ltd., three and a half years with the heavy equipment company Euclid Atlantic, and up until his retirement, 34 years in parts with Wilson Equipment.

"I especially enjoyed my long period with Wilsons. I recall employment with some great people and working in the parts department I enjoyed dealing with customers on a daily basis," McIsaac said.

From this writer's outlook, Billy was most definitely one of this area's outstanding athletes during the 1960s and the 1970s and these days it seems very appropriate that the McIsaac name is still being hoisted in sports.

Jamie McIsaac, a Level 6 hockey referee, has 12 years experience officiating and is found on the local scene in the Maritime junior A league and doing university hockey. Jonathan who referees junior A, B and Quebec major junior hockey, at only 23 years of age, is drawing attention as a National Hockey League refereeing prospect.

And we're very impressed with Billy and Joan McIsaac's grandson Jared, who at age seven, is burning up the ice and filling the net in novice hockey.

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