I learned recently that Dave Theakston would be visiting Truro for the first time in 10 years.
It’s been more than 50 years since Theakston was both an outstanding baseball player and a sought-after hockey prospect.
In baseball, he was outstanding in Truro Little League, Pony League and intermediate ball. This led to success in junior with the Nova Scotia All-stars, who played in the 1965 Canadian Junior Baseball Championship in Winnipeg.
The highlight in hockey for Theakston would have had to be signing a C-form with the NHL’s New York Rangers in 1957, something few Nova Scotians got to do in those days.
It was an enjoyment sitting down and reminiscing with the Truro native earlier this week.
“I was an east-ender,” Theakston, 72, of Picton, Ont., said. “We were a close-knit community. Nobody tried to out-do the other guy, we always supported each other, we had each other’s back. Truro’s east-end was a great place to grow up.”
During his youth, Theakston had a growing desire to play baseball.
“My dad (Allan Theakston) spent hours working with me, he wanted me to be a pitcher. He was my inspiration – I’d spend hours throwing baseballs at the side of the house.”
It’s interesting to note, Dave’s father and his brothers John, Art and Frank, who grew up on Robie Street in Truro, were all outstanding athletes. They starred in track and field, baseball, hockey and soccer. Their sister Babe was also a brilliant athlete. Allan, a Second World War veteran, was wounded while serving overseas.
“My Little League career and my Pony League career was the most exciting time in my life,” Theakston recalled. “Those were great years, I loved them. After playing two seasons in Little League with Tip Top Tailors, coached by Lorne Purdy, I got to play with Spencer Brothers in Pony League, our coach was Bus Kuhn.”
Recalling such teammates as Butch Cream, Dick Audas and Barry Clark, the Ontario resident remembered winning a league championship with Spencer Brothers.
“We won the championship in a best of five series. But, after all these years, I can’t remember who we played.”
Besides pitching, Theakston played third-base, shortstop and first-base. One of his best Pony League seasons saw him hit 10 home runs while winning the league batting title. Moving up to intermediate baseball, he played two seasons with the Londonderry Ironclads.
“We had some good ball players,” said Theakston. “Glen Matheson and I were quite young when we got to play with guys like Johnny Hutchinson, Bob Balcolm, Jim Lake, Bobby Matheson and Truman Matheson. It was good experience.”
Theakston last played locally in 1965 with the Truro Bearcats, coached by Gordie Mont. It remains a memorable season.
“The year was quite special as Glenn Matheson, Bill McIsaac and I got picked to play for the Nova Scotia all-star team that would represent the province in the Canadian Junior Baseball Championship in Winnipeg. It was really quite a thrill playing for Nova Scotia under coach Eddie Gillis. Glenn, Bill and I took the train with our teammates all the way to Winnipeg. The other teams flew to the tournament. When we got off that train, we looked pretty scruffy.”
Theakston recalled that after returning home, the Bearcats lost the N.S. championship in Liverpool when an outfielder dropped a fly ball in the 11th inning.
A defenceman in hockey, Theakston played with Alice Street School, Truro Junior High, Colchester County Academy, Truro Headmasters and the Nova Scotia Agricultural College. In 1957, he attended a New York Rangers hockey school, on completion of the school he was approached by a Rangers scout and he signed a C-form. Deciding not to attend a major junior training camp in Ontario, Theakston wisely chose the education route.
Leaving Truro in 1966, he received his bachelor of science in 1968 from MacDonald’s College – this was followed by a 32-year career teaching science at Prince Edward Collegiate Institute in Picton.
“An inspiration for me going into science was Bob Gogan, he just treated me great. Bob taught me science at Truro Junior High, he also taught physed.”
Dave pitched senior baseball for Belleville Joyces in both 1968 and 1969. He and his wife Edna, the former Edna Nicholson of Pictou, plan to spend about eight days in N.S.
Lyle Carter’s sports column appears weekly in the Truro News. If you have a story idea, contact him at 902 673-2857.