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The other Toronto Maple Leafs

It wasn't hockey. For fans it was baseball as it was meant to be played: for free, by day, and on real grass.

Fans enjoyed watching baseball in a city park rather than at newly opened SkyDome in 1989

The other Toronto Maple Leafs

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32 years ago
1:35
This was baseball as it was meant to played, according to reporter Kas Roussy. 1:35

They shared a name with the NHL hockey team, and for fans it was baseball as it was meant to be played: for free, by day, and on real grass.

The Toronto Maple Leafs baseball club started playing in 1969 in Ontario's Intercounty Baseball League. 

Just weeks after the official opening of SkyDome, the new home of Major League Baseball's Toronto Blue Jays, the CBC's Kas Roussy took in a Leafs home game at Toronto's Christie Pits park. 

"Never mind the glitzy SkyDome," said Roussy in July 1989 as the camera caught the crack of the bat and the fans cheering for a home run. "Baseball fans — especially Maple Leaf baseball fans — know that this is the only decent way to play ball."

Without formal seating, fans sat on the grassy slopes that surrounded two sides of the diamond behind home plate, on lawn chairs and blankets.

"You can get nearer to the players here and you see more of the action," said spectator Alan Sutcliffe.

'Get a sunburn ... eat a hotdog'

Charlie Reinhart said he'd been watching baseball at Christie Pits since 1925. (CBLT Newshour/CBC Archives)

Charlie Reinhart, who was watching with his wife Irene, said he'd been watching baseball games at Christie Pits since 1925.

"They used to play a double-header on Saturday at two and four," he recalled.

Another man in a Maple Leafs cap, which featured a "T" on an embroidered white maple leaf, spoke about the reasons fans might want to follow the team.  

"They can lay in the grass, they can get a sunburn, they can eat a hotdog," he said. 

Best of all, it was free.

"The Intercounty Baseball League at Christie Pits is a popular social outing," said Roussy. "Where you get your shade from a tree, and not a retractable roof."

Maple Leafs pitcher Perry Mader later went on to become the team's manager. (CBLT Newshour/CBC Archives)

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