Friday, October 26, 2018

Terry Sawchuk

Terry Sawchuk - Played senior baseball and had interest from the Majors before becoming an NHL star.

The card: 1954/55 Topps

What it says about baseball: "Terry, a top flight athlete, turned town Baseball to play Big League Hockey."

   Terry Sawchuk, like teammate Gordie Howe and other Western Canadian hockey players, spent the summers early in his career playing semi-pro baseball. Sawchuk, however, did not just play baseball, he starred.
   Sawchuk grew up playing ball and a childhood baseball injury had shortened his right arm. "He never had a flexible right arm after that," said former teammate Johnny Wilson. "Yet he refused to let that hamper him."(1) 
  Sawchuk quickly became a star baseball player in Manitoba. In 1948, and not yet 20, he joined the Elmwood Giants of the Manitoba Senior AA Baseball league. That year he batted .376 to win the league's batting crown playing against men much more experience and older than he was. Sawchuk spent 3 seasons with the Elmwood Giants playing semi-pro baseball. Records suggest that by 1951, then a full time NHL player, he had largely switched focus to the hockey rink.(2) 
  December 19, 1959 MacLeans published an article about Sawchuk's career. In it, they touched on his baseball background and noted offers from Major League Baseball, supporting information on his Topps hockey card about refused baseball offers.
He weighed 175 when he departed for Omaha, and when he returned to his home in Winnipeg in the spring his parents met him at the station but they didn't recognize him. He'd added thirty five pounds. He figured two-ten was his playing weight for a couple of years, and he held that weight in the off-season by playing baseball for the Elmwood Giants in the Mandak League, comprised of teams from Manitoba and North Dakota. He led the league in hitting .376 and received letters from the St. Louis Cardinals and the Pittsburgh Pirates, suggesting triads. He decided to stick to hockey, playing ball only to retain his condition, and discovered when the season ended that his weight had climbed to 228. (3)

June 30, 1948 Winnipeg Free Press

Sawchuk western Canada baseball, 1949

(1) Bob Duff. Terry Sawchuk: 100 Greatest NHL Players. January 1, 2017.
(2) Western Canada Baseball - 1948 Season Stats.
(3) Trent Frayne. The awful ups and downs of Terry Sawchuk. MacLeans: December 19, 1959.

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