Bernard Martin Fratkin
Born: March 21, 1933 (Winnipeg, Manitoba)
Died: March 7, 2014 (Toronto)
Bernie Fratkin won junior Dominion basketball championships with the Winnipeg Light Infantry team in 1952 and 1953.
Fratkin was “a handy man to have around,” noted the Winnipeg Free Press, which praised the “slightly built player” for being adept at defence and for grabbing more rebounds than expected.
The team comprised of boys from a three-block radius of Winnipeg’s North End. They were inspired to form a team modelled after the Stella Mission Stellars, another Winnipeg team which won the Ebbie Bowering trophy as national junior champs in 1950 and ’51. Those players than advanced to senior basketball.
Coached by Hal Mauthe, the Winnipeg Light Infantry defeated the Windsor (Ont.) AKOs for the national junior crown in 1952. They repeated as champs the following year in Montreal, defeating the hometown Hi-Aces, 59-55, in the fifth and final game. Fratkin, a substitute, once again gained notice for his play.
“Bernie Fratkin came into the game in the fourth quarter, broke cleanly down the middle for two points, and temporarily broke up a Montreal rally,” Hal Sigurdson wrote in the Free Press. “Not three minutes later he was back with a breakaway basket to build up a once-more crumbling Winnipeg lead.”
Fratkin was one of seven players to play on both squads. (The 1953 team included Jim Doyle, who would go on to become Canada’s amateur golf champion in 1968.)
Fratkin later became a well-known curler from Winnipeg’s Maple Leaf club, earning notice for his behaviour as skipper in the opening round of a mixed bonspiel in 1974.
“A real crowd-pleaser this Bernie Fratkin,” the Free Press reported. “One moment he’s standing serenely, chomping on a straw from his broom, the next chasing his sweepers down the ice hollering words of instruction.”
After graduating from the University of Manitoba, Fratkin became a chartered accountant, eventually rising to become managing partner of the Winnipeg office of MacGillivray & Co. He later moved to Toronto to pursue business interests.
The 1952 Winnipeg Light Infantry team was inducted into the Manitoba Basketball Hall of Fame in 1983. The 153 squad was added the following year. Both teams were inducted into the Manitoba Sports hall of Fame in 2005.
Fratkin died a fortnight before what would have been his 81st birthday. He leaves his wife and a daughter.
Bernie Fratkin (front row, third from left) scored four points to break up a rally by the Montreal Hi-Aces as his Winnipeg Light Infantry repeated as Dominion junior champions with a 59-55 victory in the fifth and deciding game of the 1953 finals.