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The Buffaloes’ party, thrown at a deluxe hotel in Downtown Winnipeg, on the dime of their cigar-chomping, white owner Stanley Zeed, saw nine aging Negro League veterans – averaging 35 years old – celebrate with black up-and-comer teammates, taking advantage of the opportunity for baseball seasoning up north.
The only other white folks directly involved with the team’s day-to-day operations were two trainers, the secretary and the batboy.
The Buffaloes’ youthful players “Butch” Davis and John Irvin Kennedy were eventually signed by the MLB’s St.
Louis Browns organization, finding spots on minor league teams.
On the mound, a jelly-armed Leon Day – the future Hall of Fame pitcher who started the game and is still going – just saw his team, an enviably skilled squadron of black players, take a tenuous 1-0 lead in the top of the inning.
Leftfielder Robert Lomax “Butch” Davis scored on a hard single and now Day has his mind set on finishing things.
Founded in 1920, the Negro Leagues were an association of teams owned and managed by blacks.Mah, who remembers no black families in his hometown when he was growing up in Lloydminster, Saskatchewan, says, “Canadians got used to integrated play pretty quickly.” Back east in 1946, Jackie Robinson played one season for the Dodgers’ minor-league affiliate, the Royals, based in Montreal, leading the league in batting.The Montreal fans’ love for the sporting trailblazer was most apparent after the last game of the year, when the Royals won the league championship.Four years later, Willie Wells’ Winnipeg Buffaloes reveled in their own championship, the first in the history of the Man Dak League.Short for “Manitoba and Dakota,” the Man Dak League was founded in 1950, and was initially comprised of five teams: the Buffaloes, the Brandon Greys, Elmwood Giants and Carman Cardinals, all from Manitoba, and the Minot Mallards out of North Dakota.