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In Lloydminster and District

Above: The 1954 Lloydminster Meridians:  Back row: (l-r) Darrell Martin, Johnny Ford, Arne Thunander, Rick Herrera, Jerry Quane, Max Weekly, Tom Mulcahy, Ed Tanner, Ron Webb.

Front frow: (l-r) Oswaldo Garcia, Allan Babb (batboy), Chuck McGuigan, Roberto Zayas, Bob Rosell

A great resource on the leagues Lloydminster teams played in
is www.attheplate.com - a labour of love by one-time Lloydminsterite Jay-Dell Mah
it includes photos and statistics of many of those who played on Lloydminster’s teams
from 1954 - 1961

Above: Lloydminster Meridians General Manager Slim Thorpe welcomes Cuban born Roberto Zayas to Lloydminster in 1954.

Roberto Zayas was born in Havana, Cuba Sept. 30, 1929. Zayas grew up on the baseball-mad island of Cuba, where he learned to play the game of baseball with a passion, developing into a better than average player around Havana.

In 1952, the Florida Cubans Baseball Club had a highly successful tour of the Canadian prairies, resulting in the Cuban players services being in great demand. The Saskatoon Gems, of the semi-pro Saskatchewan Baseball League, offered Zayas a tryout, and in 1953 he was playing in Saskatoon.

His stay in Saskatoon was brief, playing the bulk of that season with the Moose Jaw Maples, also a member of the Saskatchewan League. Skinny as a rail with bird legs, he could run the bases with abandon and played the game as if his life was dependant upon it.

From 1954 to 1958, he suited up with the Lloydminster Meridians playing in the Western Canada Baseball League.

He later played for the North Battleford Beavers, Lloydminster Combines, Moose Jaw Mallards in the Western Canada Baseball League. The next year he played with the Moose Jaw Mallards in the Southern Saskatchewan League.

From 1960 to ’63, he was the manager while playing with the Valley View Centre Red Sox in the Moose Jaw and District Baseball League. In 1964 to ’67, Zayas suited up for the Moose Jaw Regals.

Originally, a middle infielder, Zayas became a speedy outfielder with a flair for always losing his cap while gliding after a fly ball. He had a reputation for playing smart ball offensively, laying down a well-placed, well-timed bunt and using his speed on the base paths. He played fundamentally sound baseball in all aspects of the game. He played with passion, dedication and was competitive. He was known to be a sincere, polite, fun-loving, compassionate and kind person.

Following his playing years, Zayas turned his talents to coaching in the Moose Jaw minor baseball program. He taught the fundamentals to large groups of aspiring ball players. His baseball strategies and tactics, along with his fiery nature were evident in the play in the Moose Jaw Junior Little League team that won the Little League Championship.

Away from the diamond, he was known as a great humanitarian. He worked with intellectually challenged individuals at the Valley View Centre in Moose Jaw, as well as volunteer counsellor to others that needed guidance. Zayas died in Moose Jaw in 2006.

Roberto Zayas was inducted into the Saskatchewan Baseball Hall of Fame in 2010.

Based in part on an article in the Battlefords News-Optimist, August 19, 2010

Above: c. 1938 - The Lloydminster Nationals (l-r) - back row: Alf Graham, Alice Anthony, Tillie Fisher, M. Wade, E. Harrison, Dorothy MacLean, George McIvor (Manager) - middle row: Amy Graham, Penny Martin, Eileen MacLean, Lucella MacLean - front row - Marie Turtle, L. Henry.

LucelIa Cathrine MacLean (1921 - 2012) was born in Lloydminster to Anna and John Angus MacLean, the fourth of nine children, but the first born in the Lloydminster. Lucella received all her elementary and high school education in Lloydminster.

Lu was interested in many sporting activities.  She began skating at the age of four, and was soon involved in hockey and softball. Throughout school she won awards for her sporting excellence.

In 1936 Lu began playing softball with the Lloydminster nationals' senior team.  This team won the Ester Trophy (a Saskatchewan competition) in Saskatoon in 1937 through 1940.  In 1940 LucelIa began catching softball for the Saskatoon Pats. The team won the Provincial Hunking Trophy in 1941.

At this time Phillip K. Wnggly was forming a Professional League in the U.S.A.  The "All-American Girls Professional Softball League" consisted of four teams in 1943, and increased to six in 1944. Lucella was called to tryout and in 1943 was assigned to the "South Bend (Indiana) Blue Sox", and played for that team for two years.  In 1945 Lucella declined to continue to play in that league and returned to Canada to catch for the Edmonton "Army and Navy Pats". In the fall of 1946, Lu returned to professional softball and played in the Chicago League for seven years before hanging up her cleats and mitt.  Lu returned to Lloydminster in 1959.

The Lloydminster National Hosting Committee named Lucella Honorary Chairperson for the Canadian Junior A Ladies Softball Championship Tournament hosted in 1983.

In 1988 the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, New York honoured the A.A.G.F.B.L. with a large permanent display of the league's history and listed the names of each player.  The players on this occasion held a reunion, which brought back many fond memories.

On April 6, 1991 Lucella was inducted into the Saskatchewan Baseball Hall of Fame along with several other players from Saskatchewan who played in the A.A.G.F.B.L.

Lu was interviewed with regard to the movie "A League of Their Own". She was disappointed with the lack of accuracy, particularly the use of foul language and ungentlemanly and unladylike behaviour.  It was not the way she remembered it but as she sighed, "I guess they have to do that in the movies, but we were true professionals."

For more about other players for Lloydminster in the Western Canada Baseball League - click here