Most people are aware of the hurt that Dr. Herb Carnegie experienced in being denied the opportunity to play in the National Hockey League (NHL) because of his skin colour.
What is hardly known is that Carnegie and his older brother Ossie who died in 1991 teamed up nearly seven decades ago with a tall 185-pound Black youth – Vincent (Manny) McIntyre – to make up the Quebec Provincial Hockey League’s St. Francois starting forward line.
The significance of that combination, known by many names including The Black Aces and Les Noirs, is that they were the only all-Black line ever signed by an organized non-Black hockey club in Canada. The trio played together as a line in Timmins, Shawinigan Falls and in Sherbrooke for eight years up until 1949.
McIntyre, who was born in Gagetown, New Brunswick, passed away a few weeks ago in Candiac, Quebec at age 92.
“Manny was a natural promoter,” Carnegie, who turns 92 in November, recalled in his biography A Fly in a Pail of Milk. “Aware of the possibilities of an all-coloured line, he wrote a letter to our team manager Charlie Edwards offering his services…When Manny first joined us, Ossie and I stood at the boards just to watch him skate…Once together, it wasn’t long before our style of play brought praise for its uniqueness, not only in colour but also in talent.
“We soon became an attraction at the gate and the league’s tills were humming a merry and profitable tune in harmony with senior hockey’s only colored line. As a trio, we were good and as individuals, we delivered the mail…If Manny had a flaw, it was that he was only too eager to fight. Often we tried to talk him out of it because he was of little use to the team in the penalty box. But our line of reasoning went unheeded…To be absolutely fair, neither Ossie nor I would have enjoyed the degree of success we did without the extra room Manny afforded us.”
Carnegie however made it clear that McIntyre was not a goon.
“Manny was an accomplished professional who skated beautifully and scored his share of goals,” he said.
The line broke up when McIntyre and Ossie Carnegie accepted offers to play professional hockey in Paris while the younger Carnegie remained in Canada.
McIntyre was also an outstanding baseball player, becoming the first Black Canadian to sign a professional baseball contract in 1946 with Sherbrooke, the St. Louis Cardinals Class C Border League farm club. He was one of just six Blacks in organized baseball at the time.
Prior to the historic signing, the shortstop was a member of the victorious Halifax Shipyards which won the Halifax Defence League title in 1944 and Trois Rivierers of the Quebec Provincial League a year later.
The only professional hockey player to play in baseball’s Negro Leagues was inducted into New Brunswick’s Sports Hall of Fame in 1997.
After his sports career ended, McIntyre worked at Montreal’s Trudeau (formerly Dorval) Airport for many years before retiring.