I’ve known the story of Jackie Robinson since I was a kid, but I never heard the story of Vincent Churchill “Manny” McIntyre until this past week. His story needs to be told, for he is a New Brunswick hero.
Vincent Churchill McIntyre was a man ahead of his time and is still relevant for our time. Manny, as he was called, was an athlete of Black Loyalist heritage born in rural New Brunswick, raised in Devon on Fredericton’s north side. He was an exceptional athlete at a time when black athletes encountered discrimination for the colour of their skin.
He was a two sport athlete with the skills to play in the professional leagues. He was the first Black Canadian signed to a professional baseball contract. He was touted as “surfire” to make the majors, but left because of the racism and silence of his teammates off the field. This was 1947 after playing for 10 years in senior leagues around the Maritimes. For those who understand baseball and its stats, he batted .385 during the regular season with the Halifax Shipyards. And .448 in the playoffs. This means he hit the ball 4 times in every 10 times he went to bat. Even Babe Ruth’s best season was a paltry .378.
However, as good as he was in baseball, he was better known at hockey. The bonny banks of the Saint John River had the opportunity to watch him develop and become one of the greatest to never make the NHL. For seven years, he played left wing with two other black players, brothers Herb and Ozzie Carnegie. They played with the Quebec Senior Hockey League and with the Sherbrooke Rand, they were consistently among the top 10 scorers. Throughout Manny’s hockey career, he was a point a game player. That’s pretty impressive
The New York Times writing on the occasion of Herb Carnegie’s death stated “The presence of three black players on the same line was a gate attraction and a headline writer’s dream. They became known as les Noirs, the Black Aces, the Dusky Speedsters.” Jean Beliveau, who would go on to great fame with the Montreal Canadiens, idolized the play of the Black Aces.
Together the Black Aces trailblazed the path for black hockey players. They need to be remembered for their work and tenacity. Manny for his part is memorialized in the New Brunswick Sports Hall of Fame, the City of Fredericton Sports Wall of Fame, the New Brunswick Baseball Hall of Fame and the Oromocto Wall of Fame.
The question that burns in me now is “How many other New Brunswickers have been trailblazers/pacesetters, people who have not been celebrated for their accomplishments?” Share with me those you know.