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1927 - 1993

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SPORT | Baseball

POSITION | Coach, Instructor

YEAR OF INDUCTION | 2023

Builders

Casanova, Bruno

Bruno was born March 28th, 1927 in Windsor, Ontario. While attending Lowe Technical School, Bruno played football and was named to the All-City Football Team. He also played for the Windsor AKO Fratmen Junior Football Team.
However, it was his love for baseball and his exceptional ability as an infielder that allowed Bruno to progress from the local fraternity and industrial softball leagues, to the Windsor Hardball League and eventually signing a contract with the St. Louis Cardinals’ organization.

1943 - Bruno was named to the Windsor All-City Football Team, after Lowe Tech lost to Walkerville in the City Football Championship.
1945 - Bruno played for the Windsor AKO Fratmen Junior Football Team in its inaugural season in the Ontario Football Conference.
1948-50 - Played three years in the St. Louis Cardinals' farm system, Class ‘D’ in Lawrenceville, Virginia (1948), Class 'D' in Hamilton, Ontario (1949) and Class ‘D’ in Duluth, Minnesota (1950), before returning to Ontario.
1951-54 - Played in the Intercounty Baseball League in Kitchener and St. Thomas, winning an Ontario championship in 1954 with St. Thomas Elgins.
1955-57 - Bruno continued to play in the Windsor Softball League - the highest calibre league in the area that attracted players from both sides of the border.
1957-58 - Bruno started a full-time job at Windsor Assembly Plant. Laid off after a year, Bruno headed to Chatham in 1958 to run their minor baseball association.
1958-62 - Bruno served as Chatham Minor Baseball Association's supervising instructor, following his brother Willy who had the role in 1957. Bruno was the CMBA supervisor until 1962, a position that was paid by the Chatham Community Centre.
Bruno would practice with each all-star team (PeeWee, Bantam and Midget) for two hours, three times a week. Players all received playbooks as they were taught to play 'The Bruno Way'. He implemented fundamental drills geared to each level while teaching the same team play – such as cut-offs, relays, defensive coverage and signs – which led to a seamless transition as players advanced in the system.
Bruno also stressed the importance of preparedness, work ethic, commitment and how to win and lose graciously.
Bruno supervised the five all-star teams, assisting the managers and coaching staff, a testament to his personality and good working relationship with all managers and coaches.
During Bruno’s five years as supervisor, Chatham teams won 11 Ontario Baseball Association 'A' championships, all at the highest level of competition against bigger cities in the province:
1958 - PeeWee and Midget
1959 - PeeWee and Bantam
1960 - PeeWee and Bantam
1961 - PeeWee and Bantam
1962 - PeeWee, Bantam and Midget
One age group instructed by Bruno won seven consecutive provincial championships from 1957 to 1963 – two as PeeWee, two as Bantam, two as Midget and one as Juvenile.
Many outstanding baseball players had Bruno as a coach, including Fergie Jenkins, Mel and Herb Wakabayashi, Dennis Roebuck, Larry Myers, Ed Myers, Ron Coristine, Bill Twigg, Arnie Robbins, Keith Chandler, Eddie Wright and Phil Gross.
1961 - Bruno played for the Chatham-Merlin Combine Softball Team (Bluewater League Champions)
1962 - Bruno played for the Michigan-Ontario Senior Baseball Team.
Although he only spent a limited time in Chatham, Bruno made an impact that is still marvelled today.

After

Bruno and his wife Audrey (nee Pollard) raised 5 girls- Jayne, Kim, Barb, Sue, and Lynn. He was a devoted husband, father and grandfather that loved his family unconditionally. He supported them in every way possible and always encouraged them to be the very best they could be.
Bruno passed away in Windsor on September 20th, 1993.

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