Daley, Billy

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                                      BILLY DALEY
                                    By Doug Underhill

The Miramichi, and indeed the entire province, was saddened Monday to learn of the death of Billy Daley.

Daley was one of the premium baseball players in the province and was selected to the N.B. Baseball Hall of Fame. Daley was also a very good hockey player and was a member of the St. Thomas University Tommies for four years.

Daley will also be remembered by many of the students he taught during his career.

I remember Billy as a friend from the baseball diamond and from our years together at St. Thomas. He was always a fierce competitor. I have a chapter about Billy in Miramichi Baseball and Softball. Fortunately, Billy was able to make the launch on November 26 at the Scoreboard Restaurant, where he was a frequent patron. It was the last time I saw Billy, and like many Miramichiers, I will miss him.

I quote from the chapter on Billy:

“Mention outfielders in New Brunswick senior baseball circles and the one who most frequently comes to mind is Billy Daley. William (Billy) James Daley was born in Chatham, New Brunswick on December 12, 1947.

“Daley attended St. Michael’s Academy and St. Thomas High in Chatham before moving to St. Thomas University in Fredericton in 1966. He graduated from STU in 1970 with a B.A. and later with a B.Ed. in 1973. He worked for two years with the Department of Justice in Fredericton before beginning his teaching career. Daley then taught history and English for 23 years at Chatham Junior High and Dr. Losier Middle School in Miramichi before retiring due to ill health.

Although an inspirational teacher, it was in athletics that Billy was best known. He was a good hockey player, playing four seasons of varsity with the St. Thomas Tommies and senior hockey with the Chatham Ironmen and Newcastle Northmen, but it was in baseball that Daley really left his mark as a player.

“It is said that from a very early age it could be clearly recognized that Daley had an amazing natural athletic ability that was to make him one of New Brunswick’s most accomplished athletes.

“Daley fulfilled this prophecy by being one of N.B.’s first baseball players to play on a Canadian National team. Daley played for team Canada in 1973 at the World Championships held in Nicaragua. Not only did he make the team, but he was one of the starting outfielders and battled fourth in the line-up.

“’I always battled fourth, except when Cuffy McLaughlin was around,’ Daley said with a laugh.

Daley played his minor ball in Chatham, including playing for the bantam team that won the provincial championship.

“After playing midget baseball, Daley and McLaughlin at age 16 moved directly to the Chatham Ironmen in 1964-65. He also played from 1966-68 with the Douglastown Combines.

“While he worked in Fredericton, Daley suited up with the Fredericton Vikings from 1969-70. Then from 1971 until 1981 he played for the Chatham Ironmen.

“Daley was known as a ball player who could ‘do it all.’ He was a ‘fearless clutch hitter’ from the right-hand side. I played third base against Daley and was never too pleased to see him step into the batter’s box as he always stung the ball. The first reaction on my part was always a couple of steps back in the interest of safety.

“It is estimated (as there were no complete official records kept) that Daley was a 0.400 hitter in the N.B. Senior League. He was a great contact hitter for both power and average. He holds the record for a hitting streak of 58 consecutive games in senior baseball and was consistently in the top five hitters in the league. He was also known for his defensive skills in the field as well.

“Daley played in eight senior national tournaments with the Ironmen and as a pick-up for other teams. He has won a silver and three bronze medals in the national senior tournaments and in 1979 was selected a Canadian senior tournament all-star.

“In 1995, Daley was inducted into the New Brunswick Baseball Hall of Fame, taking his place as one of the premier players of the game. In 1999, Daley went to the N.B. Baseball Hall of Fame a second time as a member of the 1975 Chatham Ironmen team when it was inducted into the Hall.

“After his retirement from playing the game, Daley gave back to the sport he loved. He coached minor ball, taking several teams to Provincial and Atlantic titles. He was instrumental in helping to develop the likes of Jason Dickson, who went on to play major league baseball, and a host of others who played intermediate and senior ball. But he did not limit his coaching to just baseball. Daley also coached girls’ field hockey for six years at Dr. Losier, along with stints with softball, volleyball and hockey.”

Daley suffered from kidney disease and was undergoing analysis while awaiting kidney transplant, but it was cancer that finally took his life.

Greg Morris played on teams with Daley and coached him for many years. “As a person, he was a good friend and he loved sports. As a player, he was a fierce competitor. He was a very intelligent hitter in baseball and hit for both power and average. He was one of the greats in N.B. senior baseball. He will be missed by everyone,” said Morris.

Joe Breen also knew Billy well as a friend, and played on the Tommies with him. “I played both baseball and hockey with him and he was good in both. He was also a very good teacher and was well liked by his students and by everyone who knew him. That includes a lot of former people from St. Thomas and people all over the province. His passing is a sad day for his friends and for sports in N.B.,” said Breen.

Daley was waked at Maher’s Funeral Home at 35 University Avenue in Chatham. The funeral is at St. Michael’s Basilica today, Friday, December 19, at 11:00 a. m.

God bless you, Billy. We all will miss you!

Source: Miramichi Weekend – December 19, 2003

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