Thomas McKenna

Tom McKenna

Portrait by Robert Howson

Thomas McKenna loved playing baseball. He started like most kids playing in the Guelph Schools’ Baseball League for St. Stanislaus—and he took to pitching right out of the box accomplishing a 7-0 shutout in his first game! He went on to become a key member on several championship teams in Guelph during the 1940s at the bantam, juvenile, and junior Intercounty levels.

Perhaps his greatest season was in 1949 when Guelph won the Ontario Baseball Association Junior Intercounty championship. He played both junior and senior ball that season and in one nine-day stretch the right-hander pitched five games between the two leagues. McKenna won key games in each of the 1949 playoff series knocking off Hamilton, Windsor and finally Oshawa in the provincial final.  That final game against Oshawa was played at Exhibition Stadium in front of 3,000 fans. “He was a fastball power pitcher that could also throw a devastating sinker” or “drop ball” as they called it back then said teammate and fellow Hall of Fame member Nick DiCarlo.  “Come the playoffs that year the other teams couldn’t even touch him.  And he was a pretty good hitter too.” “I could put it where I wanted” remembered McKenna, “and back then if you didn’t go nine innings you weren’t really considered to be any good.”

He caught the eye of a St. Louis Cardinals scout and was invited to a tryout in Hamilton at the age of 16 and although he received a return invite, his father wanted him to learn a trade so he went to work and continued to play into the 1950’s with Guelph and later for the Senior Galt Terriors.

McKenna also loved hockey and played up to Junior B, the highest level of hockey back then in Guelph.

Inducted into the Guelph Sports Hall of Fame – Veteran Athlete category – June 18, 2014