Tecumseh Baseball celebrates 75 years

Tecumseh Baseball celebrates 75 years

WINDSOR STAR — MAy 25, 2018 — There was one year where Bert Lacasse came back from a trip to Florida with the perfect shirt.

As the story goes, the shirt had six pockets which was just what Lacasse needed because at any given time he was hawking six different raffle tickets and they were generally all for the benefit of the Tecumseh Baseball Club.

Lacasse was one of the founding members of Tecumseh Baseball and his name and influence will certainly be recalled often Saturday as the baseball park that now bears his name hosts the club’s celebrations for its 75th anniversary.

The gates open at 12 noon and the public is invited to visit the clubhouse and explore Gene’s Cabin which has been refurbished and stocked with trophies, photos and news clippings of Tecumseh Baseball’s history.

At 1 p.m., the Tecumseh Green Giants take on the Woodslee Orioles in an Essex County Senior (35+) League game while the 4 p.m. clash sees the Tecumseh Thunder Seniors go against the Thunder Juniors in a Can-Am League game.

Lacasse, who died 40 years ago, and eight others started it all when they got together and played a few exhibition games as the Tecumseh Tourists in 1942.The next year they formalized their effort as the Tecumseh Indians and fielded a roster that included Harold Jackson who happened to play defence for the NHL’s Detroit Red Wings in the winter but lived in St. Clair Beach during the summer.

Volunteers cleared tree stumps and levelled a section of field to build a baseball diamond on land partially donated by the Clapp family in 1943.By 1946, the team had joined the newly renamed Essex County Baseball League and a long championship legacy began.

League titles, provincial titles and national championships followed through the years.“We’ve got a rich history, that’s for sure,” said Marty Deschamps who first started coaching for the club in 1993 and continues to serve on its executive board.Over time, the senior team was also known as the Red Caps and the Green Giants.

The Green Giants were arch rivals of the Windsor Chiefs.In 1985, the Green Giants ended the Chiefs’ string of Ontario Baseball Association titles and the Tecumseh club went on to win silver at the Canadian nationals.In 1992, the Green Giants won their first national championship with a star studded lineup that included Mike Willson, Rob Murphy, Paul Rutckyj, Phil Daniels, Dave Cooper, Ron Joinville and Leo Paul Bracken to name a few.

The team was managed by Don Fields, who for years wore multiple hats as player, manager, club president and head groundskeeper.“As a kid growing up playing little league out there your goal was to play on the Green Giants,” said Cooper. “Those guys were legends.”Cooper first played for the senior team years before, when he was just a teenager.

“Back then, the place was packed for a game and there were corn fields all around the park,” Cooper said. “ If you hit a ball out it rolled a thousand feet into the corn field.”

Both Cooper and Murphy went on to coach their sons through various levels of Tecumseh baseball, winning national titles with the midget team in 2010 and the junior team in 2013. The core of those teams also formed the nucleus for Tecumseh’s latest senior national champions in 2015 and 2016.

“There’s a lot of tradition,” said Murphy. “That’s why we’ve made this room into a little museum. There’s trophies from 1943 in here. I’m putting stuff on the ceiling because I’m running out of space.”

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