On May 28th, 2018, Al Robertson, who played an important part in Manitoba’s baseball history, threw the first pitch in a special Winnipeg Goldeyes game. This game was in celebration of Baseball Manitoba’s 50th anniversary, and the Winnipeg baseball team wore special jerseys as they went up against the Lincoln Saltdogs. The stands were filled with spectators enjoying the warm weather, and Robertson and his family viewed the game from seats right behind home plate.
Baseball Manitoba began back in 1968, but at this time Robertson was already much involved in the baseball community. His love for the game began with his father, who took him to watch many games in the early 1950’s. The two would play ball on his family’s farm in Oak River, Manitoba.
“I was very fortunate he took me and watched all those games,” says Robertson.
His passion for baseball grew as did his skill level, and he played in a minor league in Hamiota, Manitoba, during the late 50s. In 1967 he was the Men's Senior Baseball League (M.S.B.L.) batting champ after hitting .395 and was on the all-star team an astonishing 12 times. It is safe to say Robertson has had a very successful career.
“In the late 60’s baseball was organized in Winnipeg both with minor baseball, senior baseball, and with Little Canadian [12 & under league].”
During this time rural and city teams played within their own communities, and it wasn’t until 1968 that the organization restructured and the teams began to play each other.
“The first big event was in 1967. Winnipeg hosted the Pan American Games,” says Robertson.
Gerry MacKay was the manager of the first ever Baseball Canada team.
“We did very well. We won two of the first three games.” Says Robertson, “But a rule that we didn’t know of was that you couldn’t have played professional baseball before entering the tournament.”
Three players on Robertson’s team had in fact played professional baseball, so they were struck from the team and their two wins were taken away. The team ended up with a record of 1-9.
“The one win we got was the very last game,” says Robertson. “We won against Cuba.”
According to the Manitoba Baseball Hall of Fame’s website, Robertson batted .482 for Team Canada during the tournament.
Besides being a great player, Robertson was also an amazing coach.
“I did a lot of coaching,” says Robertson. “I coached the Hamiota Red Sox from 1970 to 1989.”
Robertson also coached Team Manitoba to two silver medals at the Canada Summer Games in the 70's.
“It was a lot of fun.”
Robertson’s baseball career continued to flourish. He was Baseball Manitoba's 2nd President, serving in 1970-71, and he became the President of the M.S.B.L. in 1982 until 1984. He was named coach of the year and Western Manitoba Sportsman of the Year in 1985. He became a member of the Manitoba Sports Hall of fame in 1997 and was inducted into the Manitoba Baseball Hall of Fame in 2000.