Lots of sports names to ponder

Around coffee one morning at From the Grind Up, names began being tossed about as nominees for the Fort Frances Sports Hall of Fame.
Larry and Jimmy Fontana threw out names that those under the age of 70 might have had only a fleeting memory of.
I remembered stories told to me by my great-uncle, Cecil Lyons, about his son, Morley, playing Triple A ball for a major-league team following his return from the war.
Last week I spoke with his daughter, Penny, who lives in Victoria, B.C., and asked about her father’s baseball career. He had quite the one. At one point, he brought an all-Negro team to the district to take on the semi-pro team that existed here.
Another person who would make an excellent candidate for the Hall of Fame is Dave Brockie. He was a pitcher and in one afternoon pitched 18-straight innings.
By day Dave was a watchmaker. But on weekends and nights, his passion was baseball. Dave later sponsored hardball teams in the district.
When I think about other people who would be excellent additions to the Hall of Fame, names that come to mind are Sid Asselin and Cecil Wilson, who spent lots of time developing the race track for stock car racing. Many others also were involved.
At one time, there were three different stables with standard bred horses in the Emo area. The owners/trainers would train their horses in the winter on the oval track. Come spring, those horses would be run across Canada and the U.S.
Donny Anness, who has been racing for more than 50 years, continues to be active and travels the Manitoba circuit. He added some additional names to the list of the local horse-racing community, including Johnny Martin, Dr. Hartwell, Mason Haner, and Mel Hodge.
Several of those horse breeders moved on from the district to southern Ontario and B.C.
One of the first area fishermen to compete in professional angling tournaments was Al Meline. As a guide, entrepreneur and story-teller, he was the guide into professional angling.
Another was Mike Baranowski, who guided for years on Lake of the Woods and Crow Lake.
When I think of sports builders, a name that comes to mind at the top of the list is Mike VanJura. The field at the Point is named after him. A trainer, a coach, and athlete, Mike did it all promoting hockey and baseball in the region.
Another is Jim Witherspoon, who started the Royals junior hockey team and funded it for years. He also supported fastball in the community.
In bowling, Fred Clinker certainly could be deemed a “builder.”
Another sport one might think of is log-rolling. Ray Cousineau, George Melynchuk, Frank (“Wa”) Peloquin, and Mark Howarth all competed at the world burling championships.
The Hall of Fame can recognize all these star athletes as they all contributed to the diversity of sports across Rainy River District.
Terry Ogden and his committee currently are looking for nominations for next year’s awards, with the deadline for submissions being Nov. 1.
I encourage everyone across the district to think of who they should nominate, and have him or her recognized for their contributions.

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