Friday, July 1, 2011

The PawSox’ ties to the Great White North

On this First of July, otherwise known as Canada Day, local baseball fans ought not to forget that the late PawSox patriarch Ben Mondor was native to Quebec.

Mondor’s Northern upbringing left little room for surprise when, over the course of his three-decade tenure as Pawtucket’s team owner, he recalled his fondness for the AHL’s Providence Reds from when he originally settled in Rhode Island. (All the more fitting that, at their home opener last season, the Providence Bruins were wearing Reds jerseys when they honored Mondor with a pre-game moment of silence.)

Furthermore, though, the Pawtucket franchise as a whole can trace its roots back to Toronto. The old Toronto Maple Leafs were established in the 1880s and existed in various leagues and at various levels until 1967.

By 1965, the Leafs were a Triple-A fixture and had partnered with the Boston Red Sox as the club’s I.L. affiliate. Two years later, though, the Sox decided to transplant their farm base to Louisville, Ky., where it stayed until 1973, when it morphed into the Pawtucket Red Sox team we know today.

Here are a couple more trivial pop flies on this topic:

1. The baseball Maple Leafs left Toronto in 1967, the same year of Canada’s centennial anniversary and the year the better-known hockey team last won the Stanley Cup. Toronto has not so much as seen action in a Cup championship series since then.

2. The Canadian expatriate Mondor came to Pawtucket’s baseball rescue and assumed the ownership reins in 1977, the same year Toronto regained professional baseball in the form of the Blue Jays.