de Drummondville 1949
Stan (gérant/mgr) P
Vic (Vic Pellot) P
Statistiques offensives combinées Drummondville, Granby
Statistiques offensives combinées Drummondville et
combinées pour Drummondville et Granby
combinées pour Drummondville et St-Jean
DRUMMONDVILLE CUBS / Article: Bill Young
Gardella avec les Cubs de Drummondville en 1949
Collection Daniel Papillon
Gardella: Drummondville Cub and Baseball
Drummondville they called him “Dangerous Dan”.
first among a parcel of major leaguers to jump to
the Mexican League following World War II, Danny
Gardella played right field for the powerful
Drummondville Cubs of the Provincial League in
1949. His clutch play, both at bat and in the
field, were critical in helping the club gain
first place in the standings and win the overall
baseball original, Gardella was a popular figure
in Drummondville where his out-going nature and
unexpected antics made him a fan favourite. He
loved Canada, he once said, and remembered
Drummondville as a “very interesting town. Nice,
flat”, where “the fans were good.
was a prankster, and at a game it was not unusual
to see him, in full uniform, walk across the
playing surface, on his hands. A colleague tells
of a recent visit to Gardella’s home in Yonkers,
NY, when he responded to her knock by striding to
the front door, upside down.
Gardella passed away on Sunday. March 6, 2005,
just days after his eighty-fifth birthday. His
death was been widely commented upon at the time,
principally because he is recognized as the first
major leaguer ever to challenge baseball’s
infamous reserve clause, the paragraph in the
standard players’ contract that bound a player
to his team for life.
Gardella broke into the National league in 1944
with the New York Giants and played with them
through the 1945 season, when he batted .272 and
connected for 18 home runs, eighth best in the
National League. Teammates included Roy Zimmerman
and Sal Maglie, both of whom would later join him
1946, as former players began returning from
military service, Gardella recognized that his
chances of remaining with the Giants were slight.
And so when the president of the Mexican League
promised him $8000 plus a bonus of $5000 to play
south of the border, he made the jump. Because he
was an unsigned player at the time, he believed
that, technically, he was not breaking a contract.
He was, however, in violation of the reserve
exodus set off a rash of other signings with
Mexican League officials, enough to prompt
baseball’s High Commissioner, Happy Chandler, to
decree that “all players who jumped their
contracts or violated their reserve status would
be banished for five years, unless they returned
to their teams before opening day.” This threat
was soon applied as promised, at all levels of
organized baseball, and with absolute authority.
the jumpers, the Mexican experiment turned out to
be less than expected and by late 1947, Gardella,
and most of the others had returned home, to be
met by locked doors and limited prospects.
Gardella, convinced that he had a case against the
Giants and organized baseball, initiated legal
action seeking $300,000 in damages. And the
jumpers, running out of places to play, now turned
to the Provincial League.
this time, the Provincial League was an
independent operation, beyond the control of
organized baseball, and in the eyes of many, an
league offered a high calibre of ball, readily
accommodating anyone who could play the game, be
they Latin Americans, Negro League veterans,
displaced major leaguers, talented Quebecois, or
Mexican League jumpers.
a slew of very good clubs, the best of the lot was
the Drummondville Cubs in 1949. Its line-up
included such major leaguers as Max Lanier, Sal
Maglie, Vic Power, Tex Shirley, Roy Zimmerman, and
of course, Gardella, along with perennial Negro
League All-Star, Quincy Trouppe - a wealth of
talent that many believed could best the Triple-A
Montreal Royals of the International League, if
given the chance.
Maglie remembers Gardella as a funny person, an
would run around the bases and go into home plate
making a somersault and landing on the plate.”
evening during the Drummondville summer, Maglie
invited Gardella over for a steak dinner, but
Danny didn’t show. Gardella later explained that
on his way to the Maglies, he had met up with the
team’s official scorer, an undertaker by
profession, who was on his way to an accident
scene. Gardella decided to accompany him, and
according to Maglie, “helped the undertaker
embalm the guy, believe it or not.”
of this seemed to hamper Gardella’s baseball
accomplishments. Playing right field in 1949, he
had a good year, batting .283, with 17 home runs
and 80 runs batted in, and, as his regular
appearance in game reports reveals, playing
aggressive, and entertaining baseball.
best performance occurred in early July, when,
according to La Parole, "’Dangerous
Dan’ accomplished a unique feat . . .against St-Hyacinthe.
He hit three home runs - the first time this has
been done in the league this year - and knocked in
8 runs, as the Cubs defeated the Saints 10-4.”
The third home run was a grand slam!
was named to the league All-Star game, and,
reported La Parole, “made the prettiest
catch of the night in the 13th inning and saved
the North team from defeat.”
be sure Gardella was a crowd pleaser. Typical was
an incident that occurred in the fourth inning of
a June home game against Sherbrooke, when former
St. Louis Cardinal pitcher, Fred
Martin, pitched him inside. As the La Parole correspondent
noted, Gardella was “sent flying,
flipping over twice and landing with elegance on
his posterior, all to the great amusement of the
crowd. Danny got back up, furious at this assault
on his dignity and drove Martin's next pitch over
the right field fence, one of the most formidable
blows ever seen on these grounds.”
carried his solid play into the post-season. In
the best-of-nine semi-finals against St-Hyacinthe,
he opened strongly with a single and home run in
the first game. Then, with both teams tied at four
games apiece heading into the finale, he and Sal
Maglie took charge. Maglie held the Saints to four
hits and only one run, striking out 10, and
Dangerous Dan drove home five of the seven runs
the Cubs scored that night.
playoff heroics continued into the first game of
the finals against Farnham when Maglie’s shutout
pitching and his grand slam homerun cemented a 7-0
victory. It took the Cubs nine games to win this
series and the league championship. In the final
match, as Maglie once again prevailed, Gardella
scored the Cubs’ first run of the game.
Gardella’s lawsuit was working its way through
the justice system. In February 1949, a federal
appeals court had decreed that it warranted a full
trial, and this decision had put the baseball
authorities very much on their guard, especially
as Gardella’s was not the only legal action
facing them. Other players, including both Sal
Maglie and Max Lanier, had also launched similar
mid-June, Commissioner Chandler, fearing the
prospect of looming court battles, lifted the
banishments and offered a form of amnesty to the
Mexican jumpers. Shortly afterward, Lanier and
Maglie came to an agreement with major league
baseball, and before the year was out, so did
Gardella, albeit not without a fight.
had devoted much of the 1949 season to preparing
for the trial and for his day in court, and it was
only with great reluctance that he finally
accepted his lawyer’s advice to settle.
lawyer (who was working on a fifty-percent
contingency fee) insisted that it would be
impossible to claim compensation for lost earnings
because, in fact, Gardella had made more money in
Mexico and Drummondville that he would have earned
with the Giants.
The settlement was for $60,000, the
equivalent of 6 years salary, and a contract with
the St. Louis Cardinals.
was baseball which was so wrong,” Gardella told
author William Marshall. “So undemocratic - for
an institution that was supposed to represent
American freedom and democracy.”
began the 1950 season with the Cardinals, but
after only one game was summarily dispatched to
Houston, where he batted .211 before being given
his unconditional release. Typical of his
unconventional nature, when it came time to bid
Houston adieu, Gardella, with a coat and
travelling bag in hand, waved a grand farewell to
all - from the top of the outfield fence!
been climbing outfield fences all my life,” he
said at the time. “ I might as well leave
Houston climbing one.”
Gardella made one last attempt to prolong his
baseball career – by returning to Quebec and the
Provincial league. In 1951, he signed on with
Trois-Rivières but could do no better that hit a
lowly .178, with three homers and twelve
with that, his adventure in baseball had come to
an end - but not his place in baseball history.
Danny Gardella will be forever remembered for that
time in 1949, when as a member of the
Drummondville Cubs, he stood up to the captains of
baseball industry and rattled them to their very
pitching for Drummondville: Sal Maglie
than fifty years ago, on Tuesday, October 4, 1949, Sal
Maglie took to the mound under the lights at
Drummondville's Piste de Course ballpark and delivered
one of the most memorable moments ever in that city’s
Drummondville Cubs, the class of the Quebec Provincial
League, were hosting the resilient Farnham Black Sox in
Game Nine, the last game, of the league finals. Knowing
that the fate of their entire season was riding on the
outcome of this one match, more than 3500 Drummondville
fans had braved the evening chill and now huddled
together within the massive grandstand behind third
base, shivering in nervous anticipation. Tonight, the
winning team would walk away with the League trophy: the
losers would just walk away. Hopes and expectations of
the entire town, not to mention the odd wager or two,
and indeed, Drummondville's very reputation as a
sporting center, hung in the balance. And they were
counting on Sal Maglie to deliver.
Sal Maglie occupies a place in baseball history,
remembered for his outstanding exploits with baseball's
National League New York Giants of the early 1950s. But
that came later. In 1949, Sal Maglie was a thirty-two
year old pitcher whose career appeared to be on the down
turn. He was well aware that he was running out of time,
that he might never again have a chance to play on a
championship team - and so he took this opportunity very
native of the Niagara Falls, NY area, Sal Maglie had
been a career minor league pitcher who eventually worked
his way up to the 1945 New York Giants, where he enjoyed
modest success. However, with the end of World War II,
former players began returning to their respective
clubs, and Maglie saw that there would be little chance
of his keeping a spot on the Giant’s roster. Thus,
when given an opportunity to jump to the Mexican League
- at this time actively recruiting players from the
majors and high minors - he took the plunge.
significant number of other players also made the same
decision, such that the game's supreme authorities, led
by High Commissioner Happy Chandler decided to set an
example and banned them from all organized baseball for
a period of five years. The jumpers would not be
eligible to return until 1951.
two years in Mexico, Maglie and most of the imported
players called it quits and returned home – only to
find they had run out of places to play. By 1949, Sal
Maglie was at the nadir of his career. Now completely
out of baseball,
was pumping gas at the service station he owned in
Niagara Falls, low on hope and desperately needing to be
for him, salvation took the form of the Quebec
Provincial League, poised to embark on what many would
regard as its greatest year ever. A stellar pool of
players had become available – Quebecers, displaced
major leaguers, young Latins, Negro League veterans,
Mexican League jumpers – and every team in the loop
was bent on recruiting the best talent it could find.
Drummondville Cubs manager, Montrealer Stan Bréard,
himself a career minor leaguer and jumper, had known Sal
Maglie from their days down south and signed him on for
$600 a month.
was delighted. On March 24, the daily LA PAROLE reported
The big news of the week for our baseball fans
has to be the official signing of well-known pitcher,
Sal Maglie, formerly with the New York Giants of the
National League. Maglie’s contract was received Monday
night, duly and properly signed¼
Stan Bréard, who knows him well, is convinced that he
will be a sensation in the Provincial League.
indeed he was.
Maglie was not Drummondville's only high profile
signing. The legendary Quincy Trouppe, perennial
All-Star in the Negro League came on board. So did
ex-Giants Danny Gardella and Roy Zimmerman; and pitcher
Max Lanier, a former all-star with the St. Louis
Cardinals. Other regulars included: Victor Pellot, who
would later gain fame in the major leagues as Vic Power;
Roger Bréard, younger brother of Stan; Joe Tuminelli, a
Dodger farmhand who preferred Quebec; and Conrado Perez,
a Latin breaking into integrated baseball.
Cubs got off to a great start as did the league, and in
spite of certain surprises along the way, interest
remained high throughout the season. Commissioner
Chandler unexpectedly rescinded his ban on Mexican
jumpers in mid- June, and while this did affect some
teams – Lanier was the only one of the Drummondville
nine to leave – the league continued to deliver
excellent ball and draw good crowds.
Maglie remained behind for several reasons. He was
earning good money, he did not yet consider that he was
ready to compete for a position with the Giants, and of
greatest import, he believed he was honour-bound to
fulfill his commitment to Drummondville.
regular season ended in early September, and although
the Sherbrooke, St-Jean and Granby sides had all taken
their run at the Cubs, Drummondville walked away with
the pennant, finishing eight games ahead of second-place
Granby. Maglie led the league in pitching with an 18-9
record. And now, Drummondville’s post-season run, an
inconceivable circus of highs and lows, was about to
Cubs had every right to feel confident going into the
league playoffs, if for no other reason than that their
first round opponents would be the lowly St-Hyacinthe
Saints who had ended the season twenty-seven games out.
a result, the Cubs were not prepared for the rude
awakening that greeted them, and while, ultimately, they
did manage to slip past the Saints, it took them the
full nine games and more than a little luck. Their less
than stellar performance prompted whispers in certain
quarters that not was all on the up-and-up. Rumours that
some players, or even umpires, had taken money were
exacerbated when Jean Barette, writing in LA PATRIE,
branded the Cubs/Saints series “Arrangé!”
rumblings ceased to be relevant, however, once Sal
Maglie had bested St-Hyacinthe’s Walter Brown,
formerly of the St. Louis Browns, to nail down the
series. In a twinkling, despair had turned to joyous
celebration. The Sporting News reported that admirers
had showered Maglie with gifts and money worth $700
following the last out.
the hard part still lay ahead. The Farnham Black Sox
would see to that. Anchored deep in the league’s
second division throughout the regular campaign, the
Black Sox had been the surprise of the post-season.
Handily, they had first dispatched St-Jean in the
quarterfinals, and then Granby, and were now poised to
pull off the greatest upset of all, besting the powerful
Cubs. Farnham had a solid formation made up of
experienced veterans, several of whom had survived the
rigours of the Negro Leagues and winter ball. They were
not easily intimidated.
the first eight games, fickle momentum played no
favourites. The Cubs took the first two games, lost the
following pair, won Game Five on Sal Maglie’s
four-hit, 2-0 shutout, split the next two, and then with
victory in their grasp, lost Game Eight. The stubborn
Black Sox had succeeded in neutralizing
Drummmondville’s strengths and were still in the hunt.
And one more time, fortunes were about to rest on a
last, winner-take-all, final game.
Maglie had been outstanding throughout the playoffs. In
five starts he had won four, lost none, saved another
game in relief and maintained a batting average that was
among the best on his team. Against Farnham, in two
encounters, Maglie was yet to concede a run. And
tonight, in the autumn chill, with everything on the
line, he was being called upon one more time.
game is still remembered as everything one could hope
for in a final contest. Facing Maglie on the mound was
the venerable Willie Pope, long a stalwart of the Negro
Leagues and ace of the Farnham staff. Both had come to
win, and for inning after pressure-filled inning, both
bore down, giving away nothing. Maglie struck out ten
batters in the game, Pope nine. Maglie issued no walks:
Pope surrendered one, intentionally.
was first to put up a run, capitalizing on what the
local papers called a lucky home run. In
the fourth inning, Al Wilson hammered a long drive to
centre field and as Pellot and Gardella converged on the
ball, it dropped between and rolled to the fence. By the
time Pellot could recover it, Wilson had round the bases
managed to hold the lead until the seventh before
Drummondville finally rallied, and when the dust had
settled and the cheering stopped, five runs had crossed
the plate, enough to seal the victory. They had done it.
At last, the Cubs were truly champions.
more time, Sal Maglie had prevailed: four hits, ten
strikeouts and a 5-1 victory. His last game in
Drummondville and it was a masterpiece. The Cubs had
required ten wins to earn the title. Maglie had
delivered five of them.
PAROLE spoke for the fans:
baseball season now concluded will long be remembered in
Drummondville. It offered some of the most brilliant
play that we could ever hope to see in a community like
ours. It brought us the championship, and glory to the
name of Drummondville and to its citizens.
town held a reception for the team the day following.
Head table guests included Stan Bréard, Sal Maglie and
Sal’s wife, Kathleen. The league trophy was presented,
and Maglie was lauded for the contribution he had made
to the city.
year in Drummondville had run its course, but not his
career. In 1950, in New York, Sal Maglie would
experience the rebirth that for several years placed him
among the premier hurlers in the National League.
Drummondville, or so the locals insisted, had prepared
him for this challenge. And they were delighted.