London Majors alumni day shaping up to be big deal

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About 70 London Majors alumni — including owners, ­players, ­managers and coaches — are expected to participate in the first Majors’ alumni day Saturday at Labatt Park.

That day also will mark the return of London’s own Ted Giannoulas, the man who made being a professional mascot — the San Diego chicken — a big deal.

“It’s really going to be big,” said former Majors’ player Barry Boughner who kicked off the idea several months ago. “I keep hearing from players who are coming back. We’ve had presentations and displays. It’s the first but it won’t be the last. We are already planning for next year.”

The Majors will be playing Brantford Red Sox in a 7:35 p.m. start. Players will be present before the game in the Roy McKay clubhouse where the public can go through the exhibits and memorabilia. A pregame ceremony will be held honouring several former Majors’ players.

But the highlight of the night may be the man in the chicken suit.

Giannoulas has made history in his 43 years as the San Diego chicken. Some question why he still hasn’t been inducted in the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame.

He’s slowing down somewhat but agreed to make his only appearance this summer at Labatt Park for alumni day and to celebrate the 140th anniversary of Labatt Park. Giannoulas used to manually change the scoreboard at Labatt Park when he was in elementary school.

Giannoulas will perform for a couple of innings and will then sign autographs and pose for pictures with fans throughout the night.

As for the pregame ceremony Boughner plans to honour five players.

“We have some nice things happened and it’s time these guys were really acknowledged,” Boughner said.

The Majors will honour Stan (Tubby) Jones who is now 94 years old. He played on the 1943 London Army team that won three championships, the IBL, Ontario Baseball League Championship and the Canadian National Baseball Congress Championship.

Barry Moore is another Majors’ player who will be highlighted. The London-born 92-year-old played on the 1945 IBL-winning Majors team and the 1945 OBA junior championship team. He and Jones faced each other in two consecutive London high school hockey championship finals.

The third player honoured is Tillsonburg’s Jack Fairs. Fairs, 92, was on the 1948 London Majors team that won four championships that year. They won the IBL title; OBA championship; the Canadian National Congress Baseball Championship; and the North American Congress Sandlot Championship.

Bob Deakin, 83, was also born in London. He was considered one of the best Canadian prospects to play the game. He signed with the New York Yankees and played five years in the system until injuries ended his playing career.

Deakin won three age-level baseball championships, was a member of the Majors from 1951 through 1954 winning an IBL title with the 1951 senior team. He will receive the elite player recognition award.

Also begin honoured with the elite player recognition award is long-time major player and owner Arden Eddie.

Eddie holds multiple offensive and longevity records for the Majors.

Eddie had a 36-year career as a Major including 32 as a player and 27 as an owner. He sold the team to current co-owner Scott Dart after the 2003 season.

Eddie played 834 games; has most bases on balls, most hits and most stolen bases.

Deakin and Eddie will have their numbers acknowledged as being worn by exceptional players. The Majors don’t retire numbers.

“It’s going to be a really special night,” Boughner said. “The owners of the Majors’ Roop Chanderdat and Scott Dart have really done everything they can to make it a big day and we appreciate it. We should have done it a long time ago.” 

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