By Kevin Glew
His first professional baseball contract was signed in a quintessentially Canadian setting.
New Brunswick native Billy Harris was competing in a hockey tournament in Buchans, Nfld., when Brooklyn Dodgers scout Bill O’Connor secured the stocky 19-year-old’s signature on a piece of paper.
Although the five-foot-seven Harris was a standout stickhandler, it was his right arm – and not his slap shot – that would serve as his ticket to a professional sports career.
During his Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame induction speech in St. Marys, Ont., in June 2008, Harris recounted hopping on a train in Dorchester, N.B., to head to the Dodgers’ spring training facility in Vero Beach, Fla., in 1951.
When the train stopped in New York, a big husky, athletic looking guy (who Harris declined to name in his speech) boarded and sat close to Harris. The two eventually struck up a conversation and discovered that they were both destined for the Dodgers’ camp.
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