Historical society honours local baseball team
© Ryan Cooke/Journal Pioneer
Hank Landry, middle, receives a caricature of himself and his grandson, Matt Barlow, from local artist and historian Wayne Wright
SUMMERSIDE – With names being tossed around the room like a ball around the diamond, Blanche Bennett turned to her brother countless times throughout the morning with her hand on his shoulder, and a look of cheerful reminiscence on her face.
“Remember him?” she’d say to her brother, Hank Landry, as he smiled and nodded, quietly remembering the glory years of his baseball career.
Landry was a mainstay on the Curran and Briggs baseball teams of the post-war era, winning three straight Maritime league championships to close out the 1940s and bring in the ’50s.
On Monday morning, the Summerside Historical Society honoured Landry – the last surviving member of those teams – during the second installment of its Summer Lecture Series.
“This is the most fantastic day I’ve had in a long time,” said the 91-year-old Bennett. “I did not realize Hank was going to be honoured. It really is a privilege to be here.”
Attendees swapped stories of the Curran and Briggs junior and intermediate teams. Speakers George Dalton and Paul Schurman told tales of their days with the junior team, being coached by Landry.
“What I remember, through the eyes of a child, is falling in love with the game of baseball,” Dalton said.
Schurman recalled being recruited to the intermediate squad as a 14-year-old, for a trip to Chatham, N.B.
Sitting in his Grade 9 class, Schurman heard a knock at the door.
“Paul, you’re wanted at the door,” his teacher said.
Standing there was a very hurried Landry.
“You’ve got about 10 minutes to run home and get your gear,” he said. “We’re going to Chatham."
Towards the end of the talk, local historian and cartoonist, Wayne Wright, presented Landry and his grandson, Matt Barlow, with a caricature of the pair. Matt, 15 years old, is fresh back from Canada Games, where he manned the infield for Team P.E.I.
Matt said his grandfather has been a big influence on the success he’s had as a young ball player.
“Everything I do on the field, I think of him. He played the same position I do, and he bats second or third, same as me. I model my game after him.”
Matt recently got a special gift from his grandfather, a memento he’ll keep forever.
“He gave me his glove a while back. It’s just a slab of leather,” he laughed. “You have to use two hands to catch anything with it, so he taught me how to do that too.”
The talk was a chance to bring Landry and Bennett together. Bennett, who lives in Cornwall, doesn’t get to see her brother too often these days.
Growing up, however, the pair spent countless hours together at the ball field.
“Mama and Papa were more or less in charge of the baseball diamond and so all us kids had jobs to do,” she said. “We had to mark off the diamond, and the bases were bags full of sand, which we filled.
“We were supposed to go up in the afternoon and mark the diamond off. If it wasn’t done, Papa would just be very hostile,” she laughed.
Looking at the photos and newspaper clippings on display, and hearing all the stories brought back great memories for Bennett.
“When we talk about the old-timers here, I remember all of them… it’s unreal. I remember the whole nine yards.”
While Matt wasn’t around for any of the stories shared, he sat smiling and laughing, listening intently.
“It’s important to remember everybody who has done something for the community and for baseball, to honour them and make sure they never are forgotten.”