Vincent “Manny” Churchill McIntyre, baseball player, hockey player, railway porter (born 4 October 1918 in Gagetown, New Brunswick; died 13 June 2011 in Candiac, QC). Manny McIntyre was the first Black Canadian to sign a professional baseball contract — just six weeks after American Jackie Robinson broke the pro baseball colour barrier. McIntyre played as a shortstop for the St. Lous Cardinals farm team, the Sherbrooke Canadians. A multisport athlete, he was also a member (with brothers Ossie and Herb Carnegie) of the first all-Black line in pro hockey, known as the “Black Aces.” McIntyre was inducted into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame, the Black Ice Hockey and Sports Hall of Fame, the New Brunswick Sports Hall of Fame and the City of Fredericton Sports Wall of Fame.
Vincent McIntyre was born in Gagetown, New Brunswick. He was one of six siblings born to Edward and Mabel McIntyre. When he was a boy, McIntyre’s family moved north of Fredericton to the community of Devon. McIntyre loved hockey and baseball and began playing the two sports as a child.
McIntyre played for his Fredericton high school baseball team, which he led to the Maritime high school baseball championships in 1938. After high school, he played with the Fredericton Capitals in the New Brunswick Senior Baseball League. In his book, Northern Sandlots: A Social History of Maritime Baseball, Colin D. Howell writes that McIntyre “was quickly recognized as one of the finest all-around ballplayers in the region. A superb athlete, McIntyre was equally at home on the ball diamond or hockey rink.”
After his time with the Fredericton Capitals, McIntyre played with the Devon Tigers of the New Brunswick Senior Baseball League in 1939. He then joined the Truro Bearcats of the Nova Scotia Senior Baseball League.
After being medically discharged from the Canadian Army in 1943, McIntyre played for the Halifax Shipyards of the Halifax Defence Baseball League. In 1943, he batted 0.385 during the regular season and 0.488 during the playoffs. In 1944, he and the Shipyards won the Halifax Defence Baseball League championship. McIntyre was named the league’s Most Valuable Player and the Most Popular Player.
McIntyre then made history on 30 May 1946 when he became the first Black Canadian to sign a professional baseball contract. McIntyre signed on as a shortstop with the Sherbrooke Canadians, the farm team of the St. Lous Cardinals, just six weeks after baseball legend Jackie Robinson broke the colour barrier in pro baseball in a minor league game with the Montreal Royals. (See Jackie Robinson and the Montreal Royals.)
During his time with Sherbrooke, McIntyre hit 0.310 in 30 games. He then returned to the Maritimes to finish the season with the Middleton Cardinals of the Halifax & District League. McIntyre also played one game with the New York Cubans in Yankee Stadium. The team had recruited him to play in the Negro National League, but he ended up returning to Canada.
In 1947, McIntyre played baseball for teams in Sherbrooke and Drummondville, Quebec. His batting average during that time was 0.223. He also had 19 steals in 77 games. In 1949, McIntyre helped the Fredericton Capitals win the New Brunswick Senior Baseball League Championship.
After his departure from the Sherbrooke Canadians at the age of 29, McIntyre became an even bigger star playing hockey. It was while competing against bigger and stronger men in hockey that McIntyre earned the nickname “little man” (later changed to Manny). He travelled and played hockey and baseball in different leagues throughout his career, mostly in Ontario, Quebec and the Maritimes, with a brief stint in France. During his time with the Fredericton Capitals hockey team, McIntyre led the team to the Southern New Brunswick Senior Hockey League and the Maritime Senior Playoffs Championships during the 1938–39 season.
In 1941, McIntyre was recruited by the Buffalo-Ankerite mining company to play for the team it sponsored in Timmins, Ontario. McIntyre played alongside the Buffalo-Ankerite Bisons’ two star players, brothers Ossie and Herb Carnegie, who were of Jamaican descent. In September 1941, the trio formed the first all-Black hockey line in pro hockey and became known as the Black Aces.
The Black Aces drew crowds and dominated every league they played in together. The trio was recruited to play in France for the Racing Club de Paris, making them the first Black hockey players to play professionally in Europe. The teams the Black Aces played on had a record of 62 wins with only two losses and two ties. McIntyre finished his career with 187 goals and 278 assists for 465 points in 468 games, mostly at left wing.
Did you know?
“Black ace” has since become a common term in hockey. It typically refers to a talented player from a lower league who is added to an NHL roster in advance of the playoffs. The term initially had a negative connotation, similar to the ace of spades in poker, which is considered unlucky (if a team was playing its black aces more than its regular players, it usually meant things weren’t going well). In more recent years, however, the term has developed a more positive meaning, similar to “having an ace up your sleeve.”
While playing for Buffalo-Ankerite, McIntyre and other players also endured challenging work in the company’s gold mine. McIntyre put in eight-hour shifts while playing hockey in the evenings and on weekends. While mining, McIntyre severed the joints in his ring and pinky fingers on his left hand, as well as the tip of his middle finger on his right hand. As a result, he was medically discharged from the Lanark Renfrew Scottish Regiment of the Canadian Army in 1943, after enlisting in the army in 1942.
After retiring as an athlete, McIntyre worked for the Canadian National Railway as a porter, as well as at Dorval International Airport (now the Montréal–Trudeau International Airport). He also worked at McGill University as a parking supervisor until he retired at the age of 80.
- City of Fredericton Sports Wall of Fame (1995)
- New Brunswick Sports Hall of Fame (1997)
- Black Ice Hockey and Sports Hall of Fame (2006)
- Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame (2015)