It was a long time ago that Don Ramsay, a left-handed pitcher from Truro, had his day in the sun.
Being invited to Florida for a tryout with Major League Baseball’s Washington Senators, it was something few Nova Scotians got to do.
“It all started around some small ball parks in Truro,” Ramsay, 86, a Dartmouth resident, recalled. “During the 1930s and early 1940s I looked forward to playing baseball every day. I remember going to Victoria Park and getting pretty excited as I sat on the stone wall waiting for the other players to come. John Piers and the Piers family helped me a lot in those days.”
Ramsay recalled pitching to Jack Hepburn.
“Jack also helped me a lot; Jack was my catcher. We also trained and worked out together.”
The former sales rep recalled players he played against.
“Roy Weatherbee was a good ball player, so was Gerald “Chub” Bartlett, and I remember two Fullerton brothers. Their father, Bert Fullerton, coached and helped all the kids.
“Chook Maxwell and I played baseball together. As teenagers we played a season with Sydney Mines Ramblers in the Cape Breton Colliery League.”
Ramsay has a fond memory of pitching batting practice to Truro Bearcats players when the semi-pro H&D Baseball League existed and was made up of mostly American imports.
“Win Langille and Gordie Mont always helped me along. This day I remember Art Houk, the Bearcats coach, encouraging me to try baseball as a career. Sometime later, my father (Dick) showed me a letter that had arrived. He said, ‘you got to promise me something, I don’t want you to become a baseball bum.’ The name Washington Senators was on the envelope.”
Ramsay would enjoy attending tryouts with the Senators organization two years in a row in the Florida Winter League.
“I still remember mingling with major leaguers Bob Porterfield and Pedro Ramos,” he said. “It was quite an experience. Like a lot of pitchers, I developed arm trouble. I injured my left shoulder and after that I lost a lot of velocity.”
We salute Don Ramsay.
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The Truro Bearcats Spencer Blackwell is one of those hockey players who does not come along very often. He’s that good.
Blackwell has fired nine goals and added nine assists to lead the Bearcats in scoring in their first 14 games. And, if you’ve watched the 19 year-old Erin, Ont., native play, he’s a real sparkplug – a hard-nosed forward who throws body checks and leads by example.
Arriving in Truro after playing last season with Quebec Remparts of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, I asked Blackwell about playing under coach Patrick Roy, the former great NHL goaltender.
“It was alright playing under Patrick Roy,” Blackwell said. “He was a pretty strict guy, it was kind of unreal. Patrick mingled with the top players; with me, he didn’t talk that much to be honest. Getting to play major junior with Quebec last year was definitely a good thing though, it gave me quite a bit of confidence.”
Blackwell, an assistant captain with the Bearcats, commented on being in Truro.
“I’m liking it a lot being in Truro, everyone seems to know each other around the town, I’m finding this a real friendly area. I run with Higs (Ben Higgins), he knows everyone so it’s been going good. Our team started the season off kind of slow but I feel we have a real good hockey team. We’ve lost a couple close ones but once we win a couple we’ll keep it up.“
I asked Blackwell about how his checking game reached such a high level.
“I love checking, it started back in peewee the first season we were allowed to check. My coach, Chris Stevenson, made me feel pretty good about myself, he encouraged me to hit and he helped me understand the importance of checking in hockey. I’ve brought that with my game everywhere I’ve gone.”
Blackwell also commented on Truro’s home ice surface.
“I really like the rink here, this Rath Eastlink Community Centre is a beautiful building. Like I said, I think we have a winning team here, I’m not only saying we’re a playoff team – I think we’ll be a contender. Sure, we’re going through a few bumps, that happens to a lot of teams, but we’re going to turn it around.”
Attending Nova Scotia Community College, Blackwell is taking upgrading courses in math and English.
The Bearcats have two road games on the weekend. Friday night they’re in Campbellton and Saturday night they play in Miramichi.