As the old saying goes, “It’s been a long time between drinks.” Forty years to be exact.
So you really can call the 1975 London Majors a team for the ages.
It was about as complete a team as it gets when everything was in place – pitching, offence, defence, teamwork – and it made things easy for manager the late Roy McKay.
To a man the players pointed to “the Killer” – lefthander Mike Kilkenny – as the catalyst leading the Majors to a first place during the regular season. They finished with 20 wins and only 8 losses and then disposed of the Toronto Maple Leafs in six games in the semi-final playoff before taking care of the Guelph Forums, 4-2, in the championship series.
“Killer was awesome,“ recalled Dave Byers, the onetime St. Louis Cardinals farmhand who was the shortstop on the team. “He still had lots of stuff from his Major League days, especially his curve ball and he used it to perfection.”
Kilkenny arrived on the scene with a Major League arm and attitude and went undefeated at 9-0 in the regular season and 5-2 in the playoffs. He had logged time in The Show with Detroit, Oakland, San Diego and Cleveland.
Phil Schmidt and Rick Lindquist provided depth to the pitching staff. Schmidt was on the hill when the team wrapped up the IBL title against Guelph, pitching a five-hitter and striking out 13.
Pitching aside, this team could flat out hit. First baseman Larry Haggitt led the league with a lofty .412 batting average. Barry Boughner hit .351 and Arden Eddie, who would buy the team the following year, batted .340.
Manager McKay, Kilkenny, Boughner and Haggitt were named to the First All-Star team, and Eddie to the Second.
“Haggitt was on fire that year,” Boughner said. “He hit one ball out of the yard in right field onto Riverside Drive that is still going.”
The 1975 Majors are no longer the boys of summer. Instead, there is white hair, or none, where long locks were once a statement of virility. Chests have sagged as the result of good food and drink, arthritis has set in, and other ailments provide a daily challenge. And sadly, Roy McKay and coach Norm Aldridge have passed on.
This team certainly has Hall of Fame credentials and has earned a place in the IBL record books as one of the all-time greats. As Casey Stengel once said, “You can look it up.”