June 22, 2018

Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame

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:

Historian William Humber was also inducted. He had a major role in bringing to light the fact that baseball was being played in Canada well before Abner Doubleday "invented" it.  He's also written Diamonds of the North. And is the main reason Canadians can say this:

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.
    A face made for radio

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