Eagle enjoyed sports year round. The family followed the team to local baseball tournaments (with fried chicken picnics) that turned into provincial and national competitions. Eagle played third base and he also pitched. Scouts had their eye on Eagle who was pitching perfect games and, when he was twelve, the Pittsburgh Pirates sought his talent. However, Mom said that he was too young to leave home. This was the only pitch the baseball world made to Eagle.
In the 1960s, he played baseball for Edmonton’s Blue Willow Angels, who won the Western Canadian Championships in ’64 and ’65. He made two trips to the Canadian championships at Saskatoon and Sarnia. He also coached and played for the Winterburn Tomahawks (1971) who won the Alberta Native Championships.
When baseball season ended, hockey season began. As a youngster he and the community kids would be found dragging their skates and hockey sticks to the local outdoor rink for a game of fun. As his skills grew Eagle’s reputation preceded him – in school athletics and in the city leagues. Under the coaching of Jim Lothian (who also coached Eagle’s baseball team), Eagle played with the Jasper Place Mohawks, a farm team of the Chicago Blackhawks (when part of the World Hockey Association). Eagle was eventually traded for Ken Brown who became the Edmonton Oilers’ first goalie.
When not playing high school football for St. Francis Xavier, Eagle played junior football with the Edmonton Huskies and the Wildcats. Eagle also spent two years with the University of Alberta Golden Bears as a running back, full-back and half-back. Eagle was hard to catch with his speed – within two steps he was off! When the team found the “Buddy System”, they became undefeated until the championship game against the Manitoba Bisons(?). Johnny Bright of the Edmonton Eskimos (1954-1964) said that Eagle was good enough to play professional in the CFL.
Having received a Bachelor of Education in Physical Education, Eagle enjoyed all kinds of sports and never lost his ability to perform. At fifty years he outdid young players half his age in squash. Fishing and hunting provided outdoor relaxation. And, most of all, Eagle loved downhill skiing – he was bound for the Olympics had he pursued it. Watching sports on television always gave him a seat to the game when not attending games to see the Edmonton Eskimos, Edmonton Oilers (Thank you, Jacques Laroque, for the tickets!), BC Lions, Arizona Diamondbacks, and Phoenix Suns.
Although Eagle was gifted in athletics, he was not always given the same courtesy as other players. Trophies were tossed to him while other players were acknowledged and awarded respectfully. He moved to the Edmonton Wildcats when the Edmonton Huskies decided against his admission. People were also jealous of his ability to play squash and snooker, and they would not face the challenge when they discovered how good he was at the game. However, his reputation always preceded him as his athletic skills were noticed locally and by the pros. I often wonder which sport would have been his professional debut.
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