Pedro couldn't be there to say ¡Hola! himself,
so I tried to represent his home country
As mentioned last time, I went to Saint Marys, Ontario to see this year's Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame induction. What a great event it was. In spite of missing Pedro Martinez (due to a medical condition), Fergie Jenkins (due to family's health), and Kelly Gruber (due to being an asshole), it was still a great show.
Shortly after I arrived, the first thing I noticed was how intimate it was. I saw a tent set up with chairs, that I assumed was for the VIPs - inductees, family members, special guests, etc - but quickly realized it was for everyone to sit and enjoy the ceremonies comfortably away from the heat of the sun and the sprinkle of rain that was coming down.
Then, I saw several vendor tables. I recall at Cooperstown there were people on the streets yelling at fans to "come get an autographed ball by Pete Rose! Over here! Only $100 each" or whatever it was, but it was clearly a money grab (speaking of assholes, I hope Mr. Rose claimed income and paid his fair taxes to the IRS this time!). If you tried to take a picture of a player, without lining up and paying the requisite fee, someone would not be happy. And many shops had authenticated memorabilia, all with price tags to ensure only the most serious of collectors would even consider purchasing it. But in Saint Marys, it was quite the opposite. Players and special guests were walking around mingling with the fans, and reminiscing about stories. And you could get autographed memorabilia for a very reasonable price.
The Fergie mobile
As soon as I walked in I saw Fergie Jenkins' van, but had already heard he wasn't going to be there. Went to one of the vendor tables, and picked up a few souvenirs, including a signed ball by Jenkins, and one by Ryan Dempster (who I obviously became a fan of, when he joined the exclusive group of Canadians to play for the Red Sox, and all Yankee haters loved him after he plunked A-Rod).
I also found some Calgary Vipers merchandise there which is ironic since I can't find any in Calgary.
A Calgary Vipers sighting. I couldn't not get it!
Hall of Famer, Fergie Jenkins
A-Rod plunker Ryan Dempster
Then I spotted Bill Lee, and went up to him and we started chatting. This is the third time I've had the pleasure of talking with him. He is a great storyteller and always interesting. I already had baseball cards and pictures of him that he's signed previously, this time I got him to sign his book and got another ball.
Bill Lee, Bill Lee, More Bill Lee
Then the ceremony started. Pedro wasn't there, but they had some former Expos who accepted the honour. Fittingly it started with another #45, Steve Rogers, as well as Bill Lee and Bill Atkinson.
Another great Expos pitcher who wore #45
Another picture of Bill Lee, just because
Pedro did have a video message for the fans where he apologized for not being able to make it:
Then "The Shaker", Lloyd Moseby got up to speak. He was so humble, and you could tell he didn't feel comfortable receiving this recognition. He kept repeating that he felt he didn't deserve it. I can't even begin to give his speech justice, so I'll let you read what Richard Griffin (who was also present) wrote about him.
Some other notes on the weekend:
As I was walking around, I hear someone say "Hi, you must be Ruben.". It was none other than Kevin Glew who was one of the first reporters to interview me and write about my efforts to induct Jim Rice into Cooperstown. I had only ever spoken to him on the phone and online, so it was a pleasant surprise to bump into him.
I have no idea why I had never gone to Saint Mary's until now. It's only a little over an hour from the city I grew up in and often visit. The baseball musem was closed for renovations, so I will need to come back up when it's open and check it out
The following day, I went to Grand Bend for Father's Day dinner (Happy Father's Day, Dad!), and in the restaurant lobby I saw this:
What are the odds?
I was supposed to fly back on Monday but my flight was cancelled. Left Tuesday morning, and just a few hours later, Calgarian Mike Soroka was pitching in Toronto. I should have stayed another 24 hours. Instead I got to watch him pitch back in Calgary with several other local fans, organized by Alberta Dugout Stories and ended up being interviewed by Global Sports. It would have been nice to watch Mike live in Toronto, but it was pretty fun to watch baseball in this hockey-crazed province with other fans too.
Three years ago, I was fortunate enough to see Pedro Martinez get inducted into Cooperstown, and then went on to Fenway to see him #45 get retired. I wrote about that here.
It was such a great experience seeing him and all his fans, that I was excited when I found he was getting inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame. (We're all well aware he's not Canadian. And no, Canada doesn't have so few players, that they claim anyone born outside of the U.S. as one of their own. But he became a star when he played in Montreal, winning his first Cy Young award there, and was beloved by Expos fans).
So excited in fact, that I gave up plans I had to see the Red Sox play in Seattle this weekend. Going to Safeco when the Red Sox visit, has become a sort of almost annual tradition. I missed last year's series, which included Rafael Devers making his MLB debut, hitting his first home run, and a Sale Day, and didn't want to miss Boston's only trip to Seattle this season. But, a chance to see Pedro trumps that.
I have had bad luck going to see Pedro. In 2001, when I saw that the Red Sox were playing a four game set in Toronto over a long weekend, I flew there to watch him pitch. They had games from June 29 to July 2nd, and his rotation spot was on July 1st, so even if it got pushed back a day I'd see him. But he got put on the DL right after his start on June 26th. So I got to watch the unforgettable, Rolando Arrojo take his turn in the rotation on Canada Day instead. (Note: To his credit, he did his best Pedro imitation in probably the best outing of his career, taking a no-hitter into the 7th inning, and leaving with a 2-0 run in the 8th, only having given up one hit).
Then in 2004 I went to Fort Myers to watch some Spring Training games. Followed the Red Sox throughout the week, catching eight games in total. Pedro only pitched once for two innings. Next time I saw the Red Sox was in Phoenix in March 2005, and Pedro was no longer with the organization.
Again, as luck would have it, I won't be seeing Pedro this weekend either:
As disappointed as I am, it would be selfish of me to be upset about this. I am more concerned about Pedro and his health. Mejórate pronto! Nos vemos la próxima vez, Pedro.
As you can see below, the Red Sox tweeted about the opportunity for fans to receive the ultimate game-day package to raise money for (RED):
For just $10, fans will be entered for a chance to win the following:
4 front row Green Monster tickets to the Boston Red Sox vs. the Seattle Mariners on June 22, 2018
4 on-field passes to get an up-close view of the Red Sox batting practice
Access for 1 person to throw out the ceremonial first pitch at the game
On-field photo opportunity for you and your guests
Join an exclusive group tour of the ballpark to learn the history behind Fenway Park
1 (RED) swag bag
Round trip flights within the continental United States and accommodations for you and your guests are covered:
Includes two (2) hotel rooms for one (1) night and airfare for four (4) people
Fans can enter today at IfOnly.com/RedSox. But hurry up, as the sweepstakes ends on June 15th at 3 PM PST. For those wanting to not leave it to chance they can also bid on a suite package that fits 20 people, allowing them on-field access and a tour of the stadium. Both packages benefit (RED). And don't worry, if you can only think of 19 people to go, I know one Canadian who would gladly help you fill up that 20th seat.
This is a great opportunity to win a once in a lifetime experience for any Red Sox fans, and benefits a great cause. (And sorry to my Canadian (and other) readers, but this contest if only open to US residents).