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IBL Maple Leafs Owner Dominico Remembers ‘Living Legend’

IBL team owned by a baseball player in perpetuity for 53 seasons

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“It’s not the f-in ‘ Barrie Examiner , my friend !

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These words were thrown at me by a furious Jack Dominico a few years ago.

I was in the process of preparing editorial content for his annual Toronto Maple Leafs publicity supplement which will be published in the Toronto sun , and he was losing his mind over a seemingly insignificant detail – as those who knew him might not be surprised to hear it.

I had worked several years for the Barrie Examiner journal, which no longer exists. Dominico, who passed away peacefully Tuesday morning at the age of 82, according to the team he first put together over half a century ago, was essentially trying to tell me to pull myself together. The newspaper I work for now was not a small town newspaper like the one in Barrie (which also housed its arch nemesis in the Intercounty Baseball League, the seven-time Baycats champion.)

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It was one of dozens and dozens of one-sided conversations I had had with Dominico over the years. These discussions often started with Dominico, the proud owner of the IBL’s Toronto Maple Leafs, engaging in some sort of tirade – perhaps about his team not playing enough in the newspaper after a win. , or some of Ontario’s best amateur teams. the summer league “cheats” to fight its way to a championship.

But if Dominico was pissed off a minute ago, he was a polite delight the next day, often following a gruff rant with a question about how a colleague in the office was doing.

Rough exterior. Massive heart – if he’ll let you in.

A lifelong baseball player who wore his emotions on his sleeve. A guy you love or hate who you always end up loving once the dust settles.

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It was Jacques.

IBL curator John Kastner summed up the character of the North Bay native well in a 2017 Toronto sun report on Dominico.

“He’ll call – and Jack and I have, I would describe it as a wonderful relationship – but it’s not uncommon for Jack to yell at me, tell me I should be fired.” Tell me I should quit baseball for eternity, not knowing why we hired you in the first place, and tell you the most horrible things, ”said Kastner, who has known Dominico since his season playing for the Stratfords. Hillers in 1979, throughout his long career as a sports editor at the Stratford Beacon-Herald and in later years as Commissioner.

“I hang up the phone and someone says, ‘I can’t believe you put up with this.’ “I’m going to say, ‘It’s just that Jack is Jack.’

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“Five minutes later he calls and says, ‘I’ve known you for a long time.’ I say, ‘Yes you have.’ And he said, ‘You’re a great guy.’ And I say, ‘Thank you very much, you too.’ And he says, ‘OK, I have to go.’ And it’s as close to apology and contrition as you can get. And that’s Jack being Jack. That’s it.”

IBL Maple Leafs Owner Dominico Remembers ‘Living Legend’
Baseball greats left to right: Tony Oliva, Jim Bunning, Ferguson Jenkins, Gaylord Perry and Luis Tiant have fun with Maple Leafs baseball owner Jack Dominico at the Maple Forum and Reception Toronto Leafs at the Westin Bristol Place in Toronto, Ontario. on Saturday May 3, 2014. DAVE THOMAS / TORONTO SUN FILES

Anyone who has ever crossed paths with Dominico – considered by many to be a baseball icon in Toronto, where his franchise played in rugged downtown Christie Pits and won eight league championships during his incredible 53-year tenure as owner – knows how competitive he is. has been.

Longtime Leafs manager Damon Topolie shared a unique kinship with Dominico while they were both originally from North Bay and meticulously built the Toronto roster for decades.

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“He was a living legend. Everyone who knew him understands where I’m from when I say this, ”Topolie said on Wednesday. “He was a unique character. Who has owned a team for 53 years? It’s awesome.”

While Dominico had all the time in the world to talk about his beloved Maple Leafs, he had even more time for his beloved wife Lynne, who was part-owner of the Leafs for the first 40 years before her passing in 2008.

The IBL Championship trophy is named after Jack and Lynne.

For his baseball endeavors, Dominico has been inducted into the Etobicoke Sports Hall of Fame, North Bay Hall of Fame and Ontario Sports Hall of Fame (his formal induction has been postponed to COVID- 19.)

IBL Maple Leafs Owner Dominico Remembers ‘Living Legend’
Jack Dominico, shown sharing a lighter moment at Christie Pits, had a gruff exterior but a big heart. CRAIG ROBERTSON / TORONTO SUN FILES

He bought the Leafs in 1969 and has been the face of the team ever since.

“He leaves a legacy as the most colorful owner in Intercounty Baseball League history. He will be sorely missed, ”the Leafs said in a statement.

Jack hasn’t called me in a while, but I think I speak for a lot of people when I say that a baseball man profanity tirade would definitely hit the mark then.

ishantz@postmedia.com

On Twitter: @IanShantz

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