Kimberley’s first major leaguer

Alan Fabro was drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1963.

Alan Fabro

Alan Fabro

ANTHONY DRANSFELD

Baseball has returned to Kimberley for its 100th season. In the early days every neigbourhood had a baseball team; Chapman camp. Lower Blarchmont, Townsite, Lois Creek. and Upper Blarchmont.

The very best ball player to ever grace Coronation Park in Kimberley BC, would be Alan Fabro, who, is to my knowledge, the only local baseball player to sign with a Major League Club (Pittsburgh Pirates in 1963). Alan actually was still a student at Selkirk High School and playing Junior ball for John McKenzie and the B.P.O.E . Angels when he inked his contract, complete with a very decent signing bonus. That was 50 years ago this spring.

Fabro went to Spring Training with Pittsburgh who had Roberto Clemente and Manny Sanguillen, who was reputed to be the very best catcher in baseball. Quite a thrill for the 18 year old Alan Fabro from Kimberley, BC Canada.

It is good to have role models in life when you are growing up. This is particularly true in sports. Back in the mid 1960s when I was an aspiring  baseball player (completely overshadowed, I might add, by some excellent teenage players in town, Bob Nizer James., Thor Sandberg, the late Darryl Jarrett,, Larry Musser, Danny Sully Sullivan (our local barber and what a set of hands at shortstop))  Bob Bop The Needle Neale ( real pro potential as a hitter) Eric Hoglund, Joker Davis, Gerry Carter, Brick Teeth, and Sammy Calles Jr. I seem to recall that Bilco and Roky pulled on the Angel uniform for Mauk in 1964-65, patrolling the outfield for him ( How to go Son could be heard frequently from the dugout).

We all looked up to Alan Fabro, because Fabby had what we were all looking for — self confidence — tons of it,, enough to share with all of us who were trying to figure things out. Fab had 100 percent faith in his ability and himself in sports and in life. A terrific role model  for us all Thanks for that Fabby.

In baseball he was blessed with an unbelievable throwing arm, and a savvy knowledge on how to call pitches, Fabro was particularly adept at throwing out would be base stealers, and woe to the runner at  first base who would be leaning ever so  slightly toward second. Allan  Fabro  would snap the throw down to the bag, screened by the hitter, and that would be all she wrote for Mr Baserunner.

As a catcher , the guy was an artist behind the plate, never missed a pop foul that I can remember, pounding his catchers glove about three or four times while he waited for the ball to descend. Alan was a line drive hitter, one game he hit a 1/2 hopper to me at second base that hit my left shin, and 49 years along I can still feel the soreness in that leg when it rains. No kidding,

HIGHLIGHT OF THE SEASON

After playing two seasons in the Pittsburgh Pirates farm system, (Kingsport and Gastonia) politics reared its ugly head for Alan Fabro in regards to playing time, and those of you who know Fabby, he does not  do politics whatsoever, so he retired from Pro Baseball, came home to Kimberley for the rest of the summer, playing for the B.P.O.E. Angels. Then it was off to Gonzaga University in Spokane, where he played goal for the Gonzaga Bulldogs and received his degree in business. After being bit by the hockey bug, Fabro played two seasons for the Reno Aces (Allan Dunn) a semi pro team.

Colin Fabro who is Alan’s  twin brother was an excellent outfielder for the Angels, until a back injury forced him to stop playing baseball. Colin hit for average, very steady out there. By the way Alan and Colin Fabro have their 50th  Selkirk grad this summer. Milo Fabro, their father, was the driving force for business in Kimberley, the sawmill, lumber yard, (Normie Foster and Tick Beattie ran it), Marshall Wells store uptown (Marg Patterson their whiz Manager). The Fabro Construction company  employed the very finest carpenters, electricians and brick layers around the East Kootenays, real quality  tradesmen. Milo along with his brother Al really shaped Kimberley BC back in the day. The big business guys were Milo Fabro and Chris Sorensen, two movers and shakers. Chris was a people person businessman, while Milo was a behind the scenes fellow. Mr. Fabro was an eloquent man, always nattily dressed. He had a giant picture of John F Kennedy hanging in the family home. Milo was a buddy of my dad Tony, so I saw him quite a lot at coffee in the Grill. A very ethical man, he was President of the Western International Hockey League for many years , and the B.C.H.A. as well.

I guess a good word to describe Milo Fabro was integrity. His wife  Furina Fabro is closing in on 100 years old, and lives locally. She was a big supporter of Alan’s baseball career. Fabro was playing Semi Pro Baseball in Toronto back in the 1970s for the Toronto Maple leafs, when he sent the batboy into the stands with a note for an attractive girl, asking her out after the game (now   Alan’s wife  Virginia). The Fabros have two children now grown up. Alison and Scott both terrific athletes in their own right. Scott actually threw the  baseball as hard as his father. Arms like that do not come along very often. Fab and Virginia recently became grandparents.

Alan Fabro was a bit of a pioneer in Baseball, in that when he signed with Pittsburgh there were no Canadians in the Major Leagues, now there are 20 or so playing in the Bigs. Fabby’s all time favorite  saying‘ Is that right  eh’, which seemed to follow each sentence. Fab took me to my very first concert in Spokane, Merrilee Rush and the Turnabouts, in 1965. He knew Merrilee, but then again Fab seemed to know everybody down in Spokane. The Gonzaga hockey team were supporters of the Bubble Inn, the owners john and Mary Glass were friends with Alan, so the team went there after practices and games… Ah, the history we have with people from Kimberley.