The baseball roots in Guelph run deeply into the inner recesses of the community’s rich sporting history, a history that spans a century and a half.
The Silvercreeks baseball name is also prominently there to see, borrowed from the legacy of renowned and respected brewery owner George Sleeman, aka a former mayor and distinguished sportsman with a passion for the game of baseball.
By the time he took over control of his father’s Silver Creek Brewery in 1860, George had a reputation for being a pretty good pitcher while playing on the Guelph Maple Leafs ball club, an off shoot of the brewery factory team, the Silver Creeks . The game of baseball was introduced to the Royal City in 1868 and it didn’t take long to catch on. A year later and for the next 7 seasons the team completely dominated Ontario teams.
In 1872, Sleeman showed a mastery of promotion when he arranged a game with the Maple Leafs and a touring Boston Red Stockings team that drew an unprecedented record crowd of over 10,000 people who spilled on to the baselines from the grandstands and completely ringed the field. What made the spectacle all the more mind boggling was Guelph’s population numbered 11,000 residents. The Maple Leafs beat the Red Stockings en route to the World Semi Pro championship, todays equivalent of Major League baseball’s Fall classic.
Since the past 100 years have come and gone, Guelph junior ball teams have been christened with a multiplicity of names that range from the simple Leaflets, the quizzical Projoys on through to Royal City Optimists jr. Royals and a just plain Royals.
In 1999, Walter McGregor and Billy Craven resurrected the Silvercreeks name in an effort to give the team a more positive identity of its own rather than just plain Royals sobriquet shared by most Guelph Teams. It also allowed them a share of the legacy left by the Silvercreeks of a storied past.
The change of identity has been a bonanza for the modern edition of the Silvercreeks who have amassed 10 season pennants, the most recent in 2015, to go along with 6 league championships, exceeded and capped only by a home town Canadian junior title in 2006.
Playing in the cozy, idyllic surroundings of David E. Hastings stadium, the current Silvercreek lineup is positioned to add their own foot note to the legacies left behind by those old Maple Leaf and Silver Creek teams of long ago.