Harold (Bill) Leader

Bill Leader

Portrait by Robert Howson

Bill Leader is one of the best baseball players Guelph has ever produced.

It is easy to make that statement because in the late 40’s and early 50’s, Leader was one of the few locals to survive the influx of former Major Leaguers that turned the Major Intercounty League into a semi-pro loop.

Playing for the Guelph Maple Leafs at that time were Oscar Judd (formerly of the Boston Red Sox and Philadelphia Athletics), Pat Seerey (Cleveland Indians), one-armed Pete Gray (St. Louis Browns) and Phil Marchildon, who won 20 games with the Athletics. Almost every local who had played in the league was cut, but Leader not only survived, but thrived as a pitcher.

He wasn’t a power pitcher, but he had great finesse. Back then they only had 12 players on the roster and they played a heavy schedule, so it meant Leader pitched many innings. Leader could hit too. Before World War II he often hit clean-up while patrolling second base and even when the pros came in, managers tried to keep his bat in the line-up. He went on to coach baseball in the 80s passing on his vast knowledge of the game.

Despite hitting his 80s, Leader still loves the game of baseball, pitching an inning each year at the Guelph Old-timers game. He is also very involved with Big Brothers leading all fundraisers each year at their annual Bowl for Millions fundraiser.

Inducted into the Guelph Sports Hall of Fame – Athlete category – on June 2, 1999