On a steamy late July evening 42 years ago, a young, hard-throwing Mac Rideout delivered the gas, the batting order supplied the power and the Terra Novas capped Newfoundland's first Canadian sports medal on familiar soil during "Come Home Year."
With a gold medal at the 1966 Dominion Junior Baseball Championship at St. Pat's Ball Park, the Terra Novas hold the No. 9 spot on our list of Newfoundland and Labrador's 10 best teams.
The following appeared in the Tuesday, July 26 edition of The Evening Telegram. No byline appeared on the story, but it was probably written by Tely sports scribe Albert (Peewee) Crane.
Pandemonium broke loose at the city ball park Monday night, and little wonder.
Newfoundland Terra Novas fought from behind and earned a 4-3 victory over Ontario to win the second annual National Junior Baseball Championship and over 3,000 fans went wild showing their appreciation to a crop of young ball players.
The 18-member team from NABA centers across the province spotted the Sarnia club three first-inning runs. However, they stormed right back with solid pitching, clutch hits and daring base running and scored in the top of the seventh.
The runs stood up under the sound relief pitching of Mac Rideout.
Rideout came into pitch the sixth inning, gave up only two hits, walked one and fired the third strike past eight batters in getting credit for the win. Lloyd McIntyre, winner of Sunday's game against Saskatchewan when he fired a four-hitter, started for the Terra Novas and retired 13 men in a row at one point before being lifted by coach Gordon Breen in the sixth for a pinch-hitter.
The crowd, largest at the ball park in years, hooped and hollered with every pitch in the last two innings when the tension mounted, sensing a Newfoundland victory.
When Rideout fired the third strike past pinch-hitter John Hewig in the bottom of the ninth, hundreds rushed into the field to congratulate the ball players.
Coach Breen was given the victory ride on the shoulders of one ardent supporter with help from his charges.
The Terra Novas, an all-star club comprised of players from St. John's to Stephenville, went unbeaten in the single round-robin tournament, drawing large crowds in their 5-4 win over Nova Scotia and 3-1 decision over Saskatchewan.
Strangely enough, one player who can take credit for the win wasn't even on the roster.
Ron Butler, who at the time was one of the hardest throwers in the St. John's senior league, fed the Terra Novas a steady stream of fastballs in batting practice before the final game, preparing the Newfoundlanders for hard-throwing Sarnia right-hander Rick Gamble.
After surrendering the early runs, the Terra Novas scratched back to tie the game in the seventh inning when Corner Brook's Jim Roche scored the tying run and Jim Guy, also from the west coast city, plated the winning tally when he slid feet-first across the plate on an Ed Hurley base hit.
Guy was ruled safe by home plate umpire Duey Fitzgerald of St. John's, which infuriated the Ontario team.
The call was debated by many long after the tournament.
Rideout, all of 17 and, like others on the squad, embarking on a Hall of Fame career with Guards, "astounded well over 3,000 partisan fans with an assortment of sharp-breaking curves, timely fastballs and an up-shoot pitch which carried him to victory," read The Evening Telegram account.
Breen's decision to start McIntyre, from Grand Falls, surprised some pundits, especially after the southpaw spun a four-hitter against the Regina Red Sox the day before.
"After the pre-game warmpup," Breen said at the time, "I felt Lloyd was loose enough to start.
"He's a great junk thrower and rarely serves up a good pitch."
If McIntyre and Rideout were baffling the Ontario team with their ball movement and heat, Hurley was making teams pay at the plate.
The St. John's native and Holy Cross standout was named the tournament's MVP after going six-for-13 at the plate. Bill Neal of Ontario was the top batter, hitting safely six times in 10 trips to the plate.
Surprisingly enough, Hurley had played little baseball that summer because his job at the time kept him out of town.
Breen didn't pare his roster down to the final 18 until days before the tournament's first pitch. In fact, a mini-controversy broke out two weeks prior to the opening game when Breen was forced to scrap a planned trip to Corner Brook where the Terra Novas, minus players from St. John's and Bell Island, were to play the senior Barons in a two-game exhibition series.
Because of a lack of funding, Breen scrubbed the trip.
"There seems to be very little interest in this all-Canada tournament by the people who should be going all out to make this something special for the junior players across the province," he said.
That interest eventually did peak to dizzying proportions on the weekend of July 23-25, 1966.
Members of the 1966 Terra Novas junior baseball team:
Coach Gordon Breen and manager John Winter
Lloyd McIntyre, Phonse Jesso, Ed Hynes, Mac Rideout, Ralph Miller
Bruce Donaldson, Jake Healey
Wayne (Tank) Ryan
Ray Colbourne, Fred Janes
Dick Yabsley, Dave Purchase
Jim Roche, Ed Hurley, George King, Eric Young and Derek Wells
The object: To select the 10 best teams Newfoundland and Labrador has produced. Six prominent individuals with an impressive sports background, together with Robin Short, Brendan McCarthy, John Browne and Kenn Oliver of The Telegram's sports department, were chosen to make the selections.
The criteria: Teams must have been primarily comprised of athletes from Newfoundland and Labrador, competed in or represented the province, or country, in athletic competition. The field was open to amateur and professional, and male and female athletes.
The selection panel
Jill Brewer: A long-time diving coach in St. John's, Brewer is head of the St. John's recreation department. A former Canada Games coach, she is a member of the St. John's Molson Athlete of the Year Committee.
Ian Campbell: A two-sport star (hockey and baseball) with the Guards in St. John's during the late 1950s and '60s, Campbell was the 1963 and '65 St. John's athlete of the year.
George Faulkner: Newfoundland's 'Mr. Hockey', Faulkner was voted the No. 1 athlete on The Telegram's Top 10 list of athletes last year. He is a Newfoundland Sports and Newfoundland Hockey Hall of Famer.
Kathy Gosse: A long-time sports reporter at the Clarenville Packet, Gosse knows how to play the game, too. She was the 1972 St. John's Female Athlete of the Year.
Chris Green: A Corner Brook radio personality for over 30 years, Green has called play-by-play in hockey from the old Newfoundland Senior Hockey League to the American Hockey League (Cape Breton Oilers). Today, Green anchors the morning news for CFCB radio in Corner Brook.
Joe Wadden: A long-time baseball and basketball standout in St. John's, Wadden is a member of both the provincial hardball and hoops Halls of Fame. He is a 2009 inductee into the Newfoundland and Labrador Sports Hall of Fame.
1. TBA -May 23, 2009
2. TBA - May 16, 2009
3. TBA - May 9, 2009
4. TBA -May 2, 2009
5. TBA - April 25, 2009
6. TBA - April 18, 2009
7. TBA - April 11, 2009
8. TBA - April 4, 2009
9. Terra Novas
10. Sue Anne Bartlett curling team