Opening day festivities for Hamilton Thunderbirds

thunderbirdsSunday (May 3rd), the Hamilton Thunderbirds Baseball Club opens its 57th year in Hamilton as the second oldest professional (semi-pro) sports team in the city, second only to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, North America’s oldest professional football club.

In keeping with that, and being assisted by Hamilton’s 2007 Calder Cup champion Hamilton Bulldogs, the Thunderbirds will throw themselves into a new season with the assistance of Bill Tait, a member of the 1978 Hamilton Cardinals Intercounty champions, Danny McManus, Coach/Scout, and Stripes from the Tiger-Cats, and Bruiser of the Bulldogs along with Hamilton city councillor Tom Jackson.

All the festivities get under shortly after 1 p.m. with the first 100 people in the gate receiving a Two-for-One voucher from the Hockey Hall of Fame and Museum at Toronto.

The first game of the season will get underway at 2:05 p.m. against the newly formed Mississauga Twins, in Bernie Arbour Memorial Stadium. The stadium is situated at the corner of Mohawk Road East and Upper Kenilworth Avenue.

The former Intercounty Cardinals (now the Thunderbirds), were formed by players who chose to stay in Canada following the departure of the St. Louis PONY League Class D farm team, in the late 1950s.

It and its predecessor played in the old minor league park directly behind what is now Ivor Wynne Stadium (the outfield home run distance marker is still on the back of the Ivor Wynne stands) prior to moving to Hamilton Mountain and Bernie Arbour in the early 1970s.

Bill Tait was born at Hamilton in 1956, and was a member of the 1978 IBL champion Hamilton Cardinals. Tait played for the Mahoney Bears Reps from Bantam through Junior, and has been a coach, Director and Vice President with the organization.

His son, Steve, is a member of Dennis Reynolds 2009 coaching staff along with John Turbitt. The General Manger is Larry Wood.