(1883/84 – November 21, 1960)
New Westminster Salmonbellies (1903-1915)
Tom Rennie was born in Newcastle, New Brunswick. He moved to New Westminster with his family in 1889 by way of Seattle.
He played for Sapperton in the city intermediate league and went east with the Salmonbellies in 1901 as a spare. He was a reserve for the seniors in 1902 and joined the New Westminster Salmonbellies fulltime in the following year at the tender age of 19. Even before turning senior, Tom and his brother George were decent enough junior players that the Vancouver Daily World observed on October 4, 1901 that “the Rennie boys showed up much better than several of the older players” in New Westminster’s losing effort that day versus the Vancouver YMCA team.
Rennie started out at inside home but as the Montreal Gazette observed, this was “…a mistake as his position is farther out” in the midfield, and he played like a midfielder out of position as he moved the ball outside to work it around instead of driving at the net.
He missed six weeks of the season in 1910 when he ran into a hard body check by Johnny Howard and fractured his shoulder blade as a result. He then injured himself again during a practice in August after returning, missing yet several more weeks.
He moved to the United States in 1913 and worked as a lineman on large construction projects – leaving the Royal City on a bad note when striking electricians were replaced by outsiders. “Never again,” he exclaimed to the attendant media as he boarded the train south.
Tom Rennie played seven seasons during the professional era in New Westminster – scoring 13 goals during the course of 73 games. He generally played on the defensive side of the midfield, although in 1914 and parts of the 1909 and 1912 seasons he covered the role of the team’s centerman. His career 38 penalties and 235 minutes placed him in the top-ten list for most penalised professional players on the Pacific Coast.
He was discharged from the United States Army in August 1919 and took a train from Philadelphia back to New Westminster, sparking rumours he may be returning to the field for the Salmonbellies. He discounted such rumours in correspondence with his old home town, stating “I am one of the few who quit while they were still champions”.
He became seriously ill with smallpox in January 1924 while living in Los Angeles, but a month later he make a suitable enough recovery to be involved, along with his brother-in-law Gordon ‘Dode’ Sinclair, and such ex-Vancouver players as Jake Davis, Vernon Green (the central figure involved in the 1908 gunshot riot at Queens Park), and Charlie ‘Smiler’ McCuaig, with the introduction of the sport to Southern California.
Although a four-team league was planned, ultimately a two-team championship was played between the Long Beach and Los Angeles Canadian-Californian teams, with Tom Rennie as the referee.
He was residing in Southgate, California at the time of his father’s passing in early January 1941.
Tom Rennie passed away in Seattle, his home for the last twenty years of his life, on November 21, 1960 after a long illness. He was survived by his wife Gertrude and his son Robert.
(PHOTO SOURCE: CVA Sp P91 excerpt; CVA 371-585 excerpt)