My weekly opinions, observations and rants about some Canadian baseball stories (Please follow me on Twitter: @kevinglewsports):
As manager of the 2011 Senior National Team (SNT) that captured gold at the Pan Am Games that will be enshrined in the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in June, Ernie Whitt is set to become the St. Marys, Ont.-based ball shrine’s fourth double inductee. The popular ex-Jay was also a solo inductee in 2009. He joins an exclusive list of double inductees that includes John Haar (solo inductee 2007, inducted as manager of 1991 gold-medal winning Junior National Team (JNT) that won the World Youth Baseball Championship), Bernie Soulliere (solo inductee in 2009, business manager for 2011 SNT) and Stubby Clapp (member of 1991 JNT, coach for 2011 SNT).
The late Montreal Expos are well represented in the class of 2012. Former Expos Rusty Staub and Rheal Cormier will be inducted along with 2011 SNT members Mike Johnson, Shawn Hill and Denis Boucher (pitching coach) who all pitched for the Expos.
The Toronto Blue Jays will also be well represented. Along with Whitt, other former Jays that were part of the 2011 SNT were Hill, Boucher and Scott Richmond. Jays prospects Marcus Knecht and Michael Crouse were also part of the gold medal-winning national squad.
Baseball – like life – isn’t always fair. Just ask 2011 SNT shortstop Jonathan Malo. Over the past five months, the 28-year-old infielder has been selected as a World Cup all-star, won a gold medal, was named 2011 SNT MVP and will be inducted into the Canadian Baseball Baseball Hall of Fame this summer. Despite his impressive resume, however, the affable and well-spoken Joliette, Que., native, who split last season between the Mets’ Double-A and Triple-A squads, is still looking for his next professional contract.
In my relatively short journalism career, I can’t recall a more eloquent quote from a ballplayer than what Staub offered when he was asked about playing alongside short-lived Tigers’ pitching phenom Mark Fidrych: “It was like a shooting star coming in,” said Staub. “We got to see brilliance for a while, and then it went away.”
2012 inductee Rheal Cormier, a Cape Pele, N.B. native, was best known as a reliable left-hander out of the bullpen. But before he became a reliever, Cormier made 108 big league starts. His only major league shutout came on April 22, 1996 with the Expos. That day, he limited the St. Louis Cardinals, his former club, to three hits in front of 9,778 at Olympic Stadium.
Rusty Staub’s comment about Fidrych was brilliant. Staub was an extremely valuable member of the Tigers when Fidrych passed through the organization. He had the experience and patience to deal with playing on a losing team. He passed that on to some of rookies coming up the pipe on the Tigers in the mid-seventies. As a life-long Tigers fan I can say that Staub was dead on with that comment. There was magic in the air during Fidrych’s year of brilliant pitching. Both Windsor & Detroit and MLB were lifted up that season.
I was born in 1973, so I don’t remember much about Fidrych’s short big league tenure. I wish I did though. Thanks for sharing your memories, David.
I just can’t imagine what is going on whit that excellent utility player Jonathan Malo. No players in the minor league and guess in the Major plays as many positions in a field as accurately as Malo does. Whatever he is been asked he is doing it.
What’s the problem cause there must be one somewhere??? Guess the Mets really break down is carreer by making him benching, so it’s hard for that guy to get real good stats, don’t you thing.
Can beleive either that no one can give Malo some help to get a good baseball agent or even take him in Charge. If you have seen him play you know what Jonathan worth for a team, don’t think he deserve what going on to him.
All the inductees bring such unique and fantastic stories to Canadian Baseball. Staub, the first superstar in Montreal and then southern Ontario fell in love with him, Cormier 16yrs in the big leagues as a lefty from NB; Doug Melvin’s amazing front office career leading teams to the playoffs and all the players from Baseball Canada from all over the country! All so well deserving.
Totally agree, Scott. So many great stories to be shared on induction weekend. I’m looking forward to covering it.
Been a long time since I heard Rheal Cormier’s name. Thanks for bringing back the memories.
Looking forward to induction weekend! I’ll be there.