Fete Nationale – A Brief History of Pro Ball

Fete Nationale – A Brief History of Quebec Pro Ball

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June 24 is a holiday in Quebec and I have very recently moved to Quebec but amongst the barbeque and ‘biere’ I managed to do a little research.

During my research I found an amazing website at http://quebec.sabr.org/. All Canadian baseball fans would dig it. Some is en francais some has been translated. All baseball fans know of the Expos and probably have also heard about the Montreal Royals. The Montreal Royals development had paralleled organised baseball. However, there is a rich history of pro ball in La Belle Provence. When the Expos joined the Majors in 1969 the Eastern League opened up Quebec. For Canadians, the Can-Am league is the most popular during the 1940s as well as the success the new Can-Am League has experienced. The Royals were in the IL until 1961 when they moved to Syracuse. the Provincial League was successful and even had some teams become affiliated. From 1948-1955 the Provincial League had some affiliation. This was during a swell in minor leagues. Many teams had 15-20 minor league teams. The Provincial League was Class C. Also, at a lower level the Saguneay League had some success in a short season in the North. Both these leagues operated in the 1940s-1960. Here is a run down of the teams that called Quebec home. I have left out the numberous teams from the local pro leagues.

Quebec City – the Capital city of Quebec. Is the second largest city and currently has around 500,000 people. All these teams played in the beautiful and historic Municipal Stadium. Unfortunetley, Quebec City is far north and is unaccessable to most US cities. Currently, the Can-Am Capitales are popular and in the short season independent league they have experienced success.
Quebec Athletics Can-Am 1941-42
Quebec Alouettes (Larks) Can-Am 46-48
Quebec Braves Can-Am 49-50
Quebec Carnivales Eastern League 1971-75
Quebec Metroes Eastern League 1976-1977 – Montreal Expos AA Affilate
Quebec Capitales Can-Am League 2000-present

Trois Rivieres – is a city on th north shore of the St. Lawrence almost half way between Montreal and Quebec City. The present population is about 100,000. All T-R teams played at the T-R Municipal Stadium. It is identical to the more famous twin in Quebec. Talk about cookie cutters.
Trois Rivieres Renards (Foxes) – Can-Am 41-41
Trois Rivieres Royals – Can-Am 46-50 Dodgers, League Champs in 1946
Trois-Rivieres Aigles (Eagles) – 1971-1977 – Cincinnati Reds AA affiliate
Trois-Rivieres Saints – Canadian League 2003


Montreal
– A city of over 2 million, it has a rich history in baseball. The Montreal Royals were in existence in the IL and its precursor leagues since the 19th century. They hold the record for most IL Championships even having been disbanded since 1961. The Royals are more famous for giving all-time greats Jackie Robinson and Roberto Clemente their starts. The Royals were always the Brooklyn AAA affiliate and when the Dodgers moved west it became uneconomical for the Royals to remain. The Royals played their home gmes downtown at a classic park, Delormier Downs. In 1969 the NL Expos became the first ML team outside the USA. The Expos struggled for their 35 years in Montreal. They appeared in the playoffs once. They moved to Washington after the 2004 season.
Montreal Royals Internation League 1896-1961
Montreal Expos National League 1969-2004

Sherbrooke – A meium sized city just north of Lake Champlain on the NY-Vermont frontier. Not too much to say here.
Sherbrooke Pirates Eastern League – 1972-1973 – Pittsburgh Pirates AA Affiliate
Montreal Royales Canadian League 2003
Sherbrooke Canadiens – Border League 1946

Thetford Mines – An aesbestos mining town north of the Maine border and little south of Quebec City. Seems bizzare that the Pirates and Brewers would even try. Doubt it was worth the try.
Thetford Mines Pirates – Eastern League 1974 – Pittsburgh Pirates AA affiliate
Thetford Mines Miners – Eastern League 1975 – Milwaukee Brewers AA affiliate

Granby – Small city just south of Montreal
Granby Red Sox Border League 1946 – Boston affiliate.

So there you have it. Most of the pro teams that have played in Quebec. You must check out the http://quebec.sabr.org/ website. It gives full listings of players who played for these teams that made it to the majors and some other records. There is also comprehensive coverage of the Provincial League, Can-Am League and Quebec born stars.

Written By

  • Oddly enough I have never heard of Delormier Downs, just Jarry Park. What can you tell me about it? Was it a multi purpose parc or strictly baseball?

  • Jarry Parc was just tossed together for the Expos to play. I couldn’t find anything on Delormier Downs that is succinct. There is a book in the P-Diddle that has a story and photos in it. I remember reading that it had a really short right field, under 300ft. It had a capacity of 20,000 and was probably quite run down after the Royals abandoned it. I think it was still around when the Expos came to town and it was probably cheaper to build Jarry Parc than fix up an old run down park.

  • I love up the quebec SABR site. They have a great blog going and a plethora of great posts on the old minor league days.

    Do you think Montreal would support a AA team in the eastern league or a AAA team in the International league?

  • Have you ever checked out that site before? I had seen it but I always thought it was in French only. That is probably the best, most comprehensive baseball website from Canada (other than mud.com).

    As for a AA team, the travel would be tough. The closest team would be New Hampshire and it is still 4+ hr drive. Also, I think an IL team might be a fit if they make a ballpark in the downtown and call them the Royals.

    I think a better fit would be a Can-Am league team. See if there is any interest in affordable pro ball in Montreal. There is still an interest in baseball here. There are a few NL games in French on RDS every week.

    Montreal is a funny city nonetheless. They have really never supported a team except the Canadiens. However, I say that and it took two CFL and a WLAF team to leave Montreal before they started to support the Alouettes. There has been a dozen Minor League and junior hockey teams to play in Montreal and none survive. The NASL is well supported here and there is much pressure for MLS expansion/merger.

    However, I don’t think Montreal is ready to support a AA or AAA team at this point.

  • Tight PP

    I don’t think a Canadian city will support a AA/AAA team unless it was the areas MLB farm team: Toronto, Minnisota, Seattle. In Ottawa when the Sky Chief came to town the attendance went up.

  • London flopped when they had an AA team for the Tigers.

  • Tight PP

    would they have flopped if it was AA Blue Jays? There still is some Tiger interest in London.

    Vancouver/Victoria Mariners?
    Regina/Winnipag Twins?
    Ottawa/Montreal…London Blue Jays?

    When the blue jays had farm teams in Canada (Medican Hat, St Catherines) what happened to them? Why are they gone?

  • The feeling I get in London is that they are more inclined to be Tigers fans than they are Blue Jays fans. However, perhaps Toronto area fans would make the 2 hr drive to London to watch the Jays farm team.

  • Tight PP

    the thing about London is why would people out side of London what to watch MiLB when the MLB teams Toronto to the east, Detroit to the West are less then 2 hours away?

    I would suspect Twins fans in Manitoba would more likely support a team. The logistics of a MiLB team in Manitoba may not work. Distance/weather…similar to the issues Ottawa had

  • Winnipeg Goldeneyes are very successful. They have been a model indy league team for a long time and are averaging 6000+ so far this year. the Northern League is competitive and AA equivalent. They are, of course on the outskirts of the travel radius but the league has teams in Missouri, Illinois, Indiana and North Dakota still lot of travel.