Not too long ago, Don Main lost his father and started going through some of the possessions that were left behind with his sister.
Among the things in storage Main came across was a crest from his Brandon All-Stars jacket that he won as a Little League baseball player back in 1962. That year, 14 players were put together from the Wheat City’s four house league baseball teams to form the All-Stars and they went on to become the first Brandon team to win the Canadian Little League Baseball Championship.
Brandon dominated the event that was held in Winnipeg a half century ago, going 5-0 and beating Dauphin 5-0 in the final, which was broadcast live on television.
July 28 marks the 50th anniversary of Brandon winning that Canadian Little League title and Main and some of his teammates have been reminiscing about the day they became national champions.
“The city was pretty proud of us,” Main said. “They invited us to a council meeting and they provided us with these citations honouring the event. It was framed and we could put it on the wall. It honoured us as good citizens of the city and it was a first at that time. … It was a big deal for us. We thought we were pros, I think.
“As a 12-year-old, it doesn’t take much to impress, but we quite enjoyed the run.”
While the All-Stars proved to be the best Little League team in Canada, they fell short of qualifying for the Little League World Series south of the border. Brandon was swept in a best-of-three regional qualifying series against an American team later that summer. Although they didn’t get to compete in the Little League World Series, the players believe the Brandon All-Stars truly lived up to their name.
The team became very close very quickly as all the players knew each other. They had played with or against each other all spring on one of the four Brandon house league teams and many also played hockey together. In fact, a large number of the players were on the back-to-back provincial bantam hockey champions from Brandon.
“A lot of guys were friends and hung out together,” said Jack Borotsik, the All-Stars’ shortstop, who went on to play for the Brandon Wheat Kings before moving on to professional hockey. “I was on the farm then, so I wasn’t in town as much as the others, but they were fairly close-knit. I had some good friends on that team.”
They also had an extraordinary level of talent with the majority of the team members excelling at multiple positions on the field, with many pitching as well.
Dwight Kearns, the All-Stars’ third baseman, remembers his immediate reaction to learning the other names on Brandon’s roster.
“I remember thinking ‘I don’t know how these teams are going to beat us,’” he said. “Of course we never played in Winnipeg much, we played in small communities. There was lots of baseball. There was baseball every weekend and you never took an all-star team. You took your own team or picked up a few players. But my thought was how is anybody going to beat us?”
Winning championships bonds players forever, and the All-Stars are no different. Many of the players are still in the Westman area and they still stop to chat with each other when they see each other on the street, on the golf course or on the softball diamond.
While they don’t usually talk much about their national title when they get together, they all take a lot of pride in winning that 1962 Canadian Little League baseball crown.
“Now you think back and that’s quite a thing,” Kearns said. “It’s quite an accomplishment when you think back on it. I wish I had a program of what teams were there and more memorabilia than what I have with the article and memories I have from playing those games.
“Thinking about it, now it seems exciting. That’s quite an accomplishment, you know? Then it was just another tournament and two days later we were probably back in our leagues playing against each other. It hadn’t dawned on us what we’d done.”
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition July 21, 2012