George Sleeman

From BR Bullpen


George Sleeman

Biographical Information[edit]

George Sleeman was a Canadian brewer, sportsman, and politician.

Sleeman joined his father's brewery in 1859 as a general manager. He became a partner of the firm in 1865, and incorporated the operation as the Sleeman Brewing and Malting Company Limited in 1900. He was given a patent on a new type of fermenting tub in 1873, and "Sleeman also pioneered the longstanding relationship between beer and sports" according to the Canadian Patent office website [1] The brewery was shut down in the 1950s and was re-established in 1988 by his great grandson as the present-day Sleeman Brewery.

He was elected first as city councillor for the South Ward in Guelph, ON in 1876, and was mayor from 1880 to 1882 and again in 1892 and from 1905 to 1906.

1874 Guelph team, Sleeman shown in the black suit, bottom row on the right with the bowtie.

As for baseball, he was a pitcher for Maple Leaf Base Ball Club when the game was introduced to Guelph in 1863. The local team was quite popular, and they won the Canadian championship in 1869. Sleeman was a financial backer of the club, and was elected team president in 1874. He was one of the earliest managers to use American import players, offering them a share of the end-of-season surplus as an incentive. In 1876, he began to pay wages to the players and encouraged others to do the same in the newly-formed Canadian Association of Base Ball Players, of which he was president. His team lost money and was disbanded in 1886 when Toronto and Hamilton joined the league. The team went on hiatus for a while, returning in 1896. The history of baseball in Guelph would continue in 1919 when the present Guelph Royals joined the Intercounty Baseball League.

Sleeman died on December 16, 1926 following an operation for an obstructed bowel. He was inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in 1999.