My weekly observations about stories around the baseball world from a Canadian perspective (Please follow me on Twitter: @kevinglewsports):
- After listening to Shirley Cheek, the wife of the late Tom Cheek, speak on behalf of her husband during Thursday’s Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame media conference call, I can understand why Hall of Fame writer Bob Elliott refers to her as Saint Shirley. She was gracious and well-spoken throughout the call and said repeatedly how thrilled Tom would’ve been to be inducted into the Canadian ball hall with George Bell and Rob Ducey, two players he watched from the radio booth in Toronto. “Tom would be so proud to be inducted,” she said. “He would probably say, ‘I don’t believe this. I did a job. I just reported what was happening on the field, a job that I loved to do. Why am I here with all of these wonderful ballplayers? George Bell, Rob Ducey, Tim Raines.’ He would be overwhelmed by it, but he would also be very honoured. Tom became a Canadian citizen. I am a Canadian citizen. We are dual citizens. He was very proud of his time in Canadian sports and he would be very honoured.”
- Steve Demeter has passed away. The “Bull Durham” of his time, Demeter played 19 seasons in the minors, including parts of four campaigns with the Triple-A Toronto Maple Leafs from 1960 to 1963. Toronto baseball legend Howard Birnie reminded me on the Cooperstowners in Canada Facebook page that Demeter was the third baseman for the 1960 Leafs Governor’s Cup championship team that also featured Sparky Anderson at second base. Demeter, who was born in Homer City, Pa., was also the player/manager of the Pittsburgh Pirates’ Double-A affiliate in Sherbrooke, Que., in 1972. A true baseball lifer, he managed just 23 big league at bats over two seasons with the Detroit Tigers and Cleveland Indians in 1959 and 1960. After retiring as a player, he coached and managed in the Pirates organization for many years. He died in Cleveland on February 3 of heart disease at age 78.
- It has been a tough market for veteran free agent relievers this winter. After making $3.75 million with the the Toronto Blue Jays last season, Jason Frasor had to settle for a one-year, $1.5-million deal with the Texas Rangers. And on Friday, right-hander Brandon Lyon, who was paid $5.5 million in 2012, accepted a one-year contract with a reported base salary of $750,000 with the New York Mets.
- Former Blue Jay Scott Richmond, who was signed by Toronto on the recommendation of 2013 Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame inductee, Rob Ducey, has suffered a knee injury during spring training with the Lotte Giants (Korea) and won’t be able to pitch for Canada in the World Baseball Classic. Sarnia, Ont., native Nick Bucci, who posted a 1.99 ERA in six, 2012 starts with Brevard County, the High-A affiliate of the Milwaukee Brewers, will replace Richmond on the roster.
- Several Canadians will be attending big league camps as non-roster invitees this spring, including (player’s hometown, big league team) Chris Robinson (Dorchester, Ont., Baltimore), Shawn Hill (Georgetown, Ont., Detroit), Mike Nickeas (Vancouver, B.C., Toronto), Adam Loewen (Surrey, B.C., Toronto), Rich Harden (Victoria, B.C., Minnesota), Pete Orr (Newmarket, Ont., Philadelphia), Erik Bedard (Navan, Ont., Houston), Nick Weglarz (Stevensville, Ont., Tampa Bay) and Luke Carlin (Aylmer, Que., L.A. Angels). Mark Teahen, who has Canadian citizenship, has been invited to the Arizona Diamondbacks’ camp.
- By my count, four former Expos are attending big league camps as non-roster invitees: Claudio Vargas (Toronto), Shawn Hill (Detroit), Endy Chavez (Kansas City) and Miguel Batista (Colorado).
- For a list of ex-Blue Jays, who have been invited to big league camps as non-roster players, please visit my Cooperstowners in Canada Facebook page. If you haven’t already done so, please “LIKE” this page. I update it with great vintage photos and with links to Canadian baseball stories regularly. Thanks for all your support.