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Leo Magnus, a well-known Californian cricketer, coach and builder of turf wickets, will be inducted posthumously into the Cricket Hall of Fame at its annual Induction Ceremony set for Saturday, October 2. Magnus, who passed away early in the year has chalked up an impressive career in the sport in and around the Los Angeles area.
Born in Jamaica, he started playing in holiday festival games at age 11 with the great West Indian player, George Headley a family member, and other starts at the time, which included Kenneth “Bam Bam” Weekes and fast bowler Leslie Hylton.
At age 14, Magnus went to England for College education, where he graduated with a degree in electrical engineering. While in England, he played for Gloucestershire Seconds as a new ball, fast, swing bowler and lower middle order batsman. He also played in the Birmingham League and toured India, Pakistan, Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Holland and Denmark.
Returning home to Jamaica Magnus played in the Senior Cup competition for Kensington and Railway. Later he migrated to the U.S. and worked for Burroughs Corporation as an electrical engineer in the research division and in 1960 was transferred to Los Angeles. Once in LA, he started to play for Hollywood CC and holds the record for second wicket partnership of 185 runs with Ray Murdoch against Santa Barbara.
In 1961, he was invited to tour British Colombia with Pasadena CC. At the Beacon Hill Park in Victoria, on a rain-affected wicket, he took seven wickets for five runs against an all British Colombia team. His total haul on the tour was 30 wickets. On another tour, he took six wickets for 46 runs against a Yorkshire County team that included Geoff Boycott, Freddie Trueman and and Brian Close. In 1967 he joined University (CC) UCLA and in 1969, toured Jamaica with the Southern California Cricket Association (SCCA) touring side as an assistant player-manager and had the most wickets and best averages. Magnus captained and played on numerous representative teams and had represented the United States Cricket Association three times against Canada.
He built the first turf wicket in America at UCLA in Los Angeles, where a three-day Test was played between the USA and Canada. The USA won the match. He later built two turf wickets at Griffith Park in LA, where a three-day first class game between Irish Cricket Union (the same team that beat the West Indies Test team in Ireland), and SCCA was played. SCCA won. He also built the first two tables at Woodley Park, Los Angeles’ Wright and Severn Cricket Grounds and supervised the two new tables, on the Wong and Marder.
He received the first ever Most Outstanding and Valuable Player award while playing for Pasadena and later received the award twice for University CC and twice for the SCCA. He was the assistant manager for the USA team in Holland and Kenya (ICC Trophy), Calgary and Jamaica (Red Stripe Competition). Leo had coached for quite some years in LA, players like Neil Laskari, John Reid, Steve Jones and Hasib Khan, all of whom represented the USA in the ICC competition and many other youths now playing in the leagues. He also coached the homeless (Los Angeles Crickets) team made up of African-Americans with Ted Hayes and toured England after 12 weeks of coaching in 1996. He then went to the schools in Compton (LA) and started coaching Mexican-Americans with Ted Hayes. He toured England twice in 1998 and 2000 and Ireland in 2000 and he was invited for tea with Prince Edwards in his office at Buckingham Palace.
He was made a life member of the Hollywood CC and Pasadena CC and in the mid 1990s was made an honorary member of the British Colombia Cricket Association by Cliff Cox, then President.
Leo actively played in the SCCA from 1960 to 1981. He had taken as many as 90 wickets in a season in LA that included the Sir Aubrey Smith Trophy, Williamson Tournament, Six-a-Side Tournament, the two-day Raisinland Trophy game and also against a touring side in LA, playing for SCCA. The first certified umpire in California, Magnus is the only honorable member of the Association of Cricket Umpires. He had umpired many official and representative games for USACA and SCCA. Magnus was a past president of the Southern California Umpires Association and was the grounds committee chairman for SCCA for the past 25 years until he passed away.