London Majors: IBL’s healthiest franchise evokes bitter jealousy 

Yodelling in the Canyon By Barry Wells - - Everything Else
The London Yodeller

Regarding the view the Majors should have ignored any racial slurs directed at them and remained on the field, ever notice it’s always white folks who say it’s best to ignore such nonsense?”

 

 

wells-photo-from-london-majors-twitter-account-posted-after-tie-breaker-win-to-clinch-pennant

Learn something new every day is my philosophy, no matter where it takes you.

 

After an alleged incident of racial slurs directed at London outfielder LeJon Baker, an African-American from California, at Toronto’s Christie Pits Park on Aug. 24 during the playoff series between the London Majors and Toronto Maple Leafs of the Intercounty Baseball League (IBL), a facebook group page with 734 members (“Intercounty Baseball League Fans”) erupted with some surprising animosity toward the Majors and its veteran manager, Roop Chanderdat. The bench-clearing incident remains under investigation by IBL Commissioner John Kastner with a report pending.

 

Regarding the view the Majors should have ignored any racial slurs directed at them and remained on the field (they left the game for an hour in protest), ever notice it’s always white folks who say it’s best to ignore such nonsense?I’ve been following the IBL’s London Majors like hair on a gorilla for decades and was unaware of this animosity (other than normal team rivalries) until reading the facebook group page comments.One regular poster, a still wet-behind-the-ears media mouthpiece for the defending champion Barrie Baycats, even stated that “literally every brawl [in the IBL] involves London.”This from a guy who writes a regular online column under the banner of “The Official Blog of the Barrie Baycats.” A fella who should know his baseball onions but clearly doesn’t.

 

Another knucklehead from Ottawa chimed in with . . . “We’ve all seen what Roop [Chanderdat] and the Majors pull all the time. Each year, controversy in this league involves them and I don’t think anyone can say that it’s a coincidence anymore.”

 

When asked for specifics, he refused to deliver any, no doubt because his allegation is without merit.It took all of five minutes on Google to dig up newspaper articles, photographs and two YouTube videos of four bench-clearing brawls involving IBL teams other than the London Majors in 2009, 2011, 2012 and 2013 and post them to repudiate such empty-headed accusations.

 

REVENUE  Despite not winning the coveted IBL championship since 1975, the 2016 Pennant-Winning London Majors have the healthiest IBL franchise in terms of fan support, revenue at the gate, food-beer concessions and team store, as well as the sweetest ballpark in the league with historic Labatt Memorial Park, the world’s oldest baseball grounds in continuous use since May 1877.

 

London’s 91-year-old IBL franchise is a significant economic generator for the city of London, where sports, history and tradition have successfully combined to enhance London’s quality of life. Attending a ball game at Labatt Park at the river forks is a slice of summer heaven for young and old alike. The stuff lifelong memories are made of. Several City Council members, including the mayor, attend Majors’ games to clear their heads of the politically charged meat grinder at 300 Dufferin Avenue. Can’t blame them. It’s almost impossible to have a bad time at the park unless you take a stray ball on the noggin.

 

During the past decade, the London Majors have had the most culturally diverse teams, with quality imports from the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, Japan, Australia and the U.S. London also has the only black manager in the IBL, Roop Chanderdat, who was born in British Guyana. Only recently have two other IBL teams (Barrie Baycats and Kitchener Panthers) followed London’s lead and started importing talent from the Dominican Republic and Cuba, proving once again it’s always the pioneers with arrows in their backs.

 

JEALOUSY  So I’ll chalk up the animosity toward the London Majors from some out-of-town IBL fans to jealousy since their own team’s revenue, fan support and ball parks can’t match London’s. Supporting this jealousy premise is the fact the 2016 Memorial Cup-winning London Knights were also attacked with absurd allegations on the facebook IBL fan page. 

 

While it was disappointing to see the Majors eliminated from the playoffs during the series with Toronto, four games to three, London finished first during the regular season with a win-loss record of 28-9 after beating the talented Kitchener Panthers 4-0 in a rare tie-breaking game at Labatt Park on Aug. 8. It was London’s first pennant since 2008. The Majors also rang up 14 consecutive victories during the 2016 regular season and playoffs while selling a commemorative London Majors lager beer made by Railway City Brewing Co. The tallboy cans featuring London pitching ace Oscar Perez are a collector’s item.

 

THE BIG DAWG  Immediately following London’s elimination from the playoffs on Aug. 28, Cleveland (The Big Dawg) Brownlee (#35, 1st base), a fan favourite from Atlanta, Georgia, announced his retirement (as a player at least) from the London Majors after seven seasons with the team. Brownlee was regularly an IBL all-star and team leader in both home runs and runs batted in. Here’s hoping The Big Dawg remains in London and stays with the Majors in a coaching capacity.

 

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  • Butch McLarty

    Official team photo of the 2016 pennant-winning London Majors.