Two former Montreal Expos, the 2011 Baseball America Executive of the Year and Canada’s gold medal-winning Senior National Team will be inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame this Saturday.
Rusty Staub, Doug Melvin, Rheal Cormier and the 2011 Pan Am games champion national team are set to be honoured in a ceremony that will begin at 11 a.m. EST on the Hall’s ceremonial grounds at 386 Church Street in St. Marys, Ont.
The induction ceremony will be part of a three-day celebration (details in the next blog entry) for the ball shrine that will kick off with a home run derby featuring Team Canada slo-pitch and fastball players, as well as a celebrity slo-pitch game tonight at the Hall’s Rotary Field.
“I couldn’t be more excited about this year’s festivities,” said Scott Crawford, the Hall’s director of operations. “Thanks to the efforts of our volunteers, sponsors and devoted staff, we’re offering something for everyone during the three days of activities. And I can’t think of four inductees more deserving of permanent recognition in our museum.”
Born on April 1, 1944 in New Orleans, La., Staub, the first superstar in Montreal Expos history, was dubbed “Le Grand Orange” by fans for his distinct hair colour. A three-time all-star (1969 to 1971) while with the Expos, the left-handed slugger played 518 games with the club and compiled the best on-base percentage (.402), second best slugging percentage (.497) and fourth best batting average (.295) in franchise history.
His attempts to learn the French language and his charitable work helped make him one of the most popular players in Expos history. His uniform number (10) was the first jersey retired by the club.
In all, Staub recorded 2,716 career hits (59th all-time) in his 23-year big league career and is the only player in major league history to chalk up more than 500 hits for four different teams (Houston, Montreal, Detroit, New York Mets). The burly outfielder/first baseman belted at least one home run in 23 consecutive seasons, which is third best all-time behind Rickey Henderson (25) and Ty Cobb (24).
Born on April 23, 1967 in Cape Pele, N.B., Cormier pitched for 16 big league campaigns, the third most seasons by a Canadian behind Fergie Jenkins and Matt Stairs (19 seasons) and Larry Walker (17 seasons). During tenures with St. Louis (1991 to 1994), Boston (1995, 1999-2000), Montreal (1996-1997), Philadelphia (2001 to 2006) and Cincinnati (2006-2007), the Canuck southpaw appeared in 683 games, the second most by a Canadian behind Paul Quantrill (841).
Drafted in the sixth round by the Cardinals in 1988, Cormier finished his big league career with 71 wins, 1,221 innings pitched and 760 strikeouts. His best season was in 2003, when he finished with an 8-0 record and a sparkling 1.70 ERA with the Phillies.
In his formative years, Cormier pitched for Canada’s 1985 Junior National Team and for Canada at the 1987 Pan Am Games and Intercontinental Cup. He continued to toe the rubber for his country during his professional career, suiting up for Canada at the 2006 World Baseball Classic and in the 2008 Olympics.
Born on August 8, 1952 in Chatham, Ont., Melvin is the current general manager of the Milwaukee Brewers. Before becoming a highly respected executive, Melvin pitched in the minors for the Pittsburgh Pirates and New York Yankees from 1972 to 1978. After deciding to hang up his spikes, he worked in a number of administrative roles, including scouting director with the Yankees (1985) and as assistant GM and director of player personnel from 1988 to1993 with the Baltimore Orioles.
He landed his first general manager’s job with the Texas Rangers and held that post for eight seasons (1994 to 2001). Following a short stint in minor league operations with the Boston Red Sox, Melvin was named executive vice president and general manager of the Brewers on September 26, 2002.
Melvin was named Baseball America Executive of the Year in 2011 after the Brewers won a franchise-record 96 games and the National League Central Division title. The Chatham, Ont., native is one of just five Canadians to serve as a big league general manager. The others are George Selkirk (Washington Senators), Murray Cook (New York Yankees, Montreal Expos, Cincinnati Reds), Gord Ash (Toronto Blue Jays) and Alex Anthopoulos (Toronto Blue Jays).
2011 Baseball Canada Senior National Team
Managed by Ernie Whitt, the 2011 Baseball Canada Senior National Team secured their first-ever gold medal at the 2011 Pan Am Games, held in Guadalajara, Mexico. This triumph followed their second consecutive bronze medal at the World Cup, held in Panama City.
Canada is now ranked sixth in the world – its highest ranking ever – by the International Baseball Federation. With a record 26 Canucks having played in the majors in 2011, Canada is also peaking at the big league level, but Whitt only had three ex-big leaguers on his Pan Am roster in Scott Richmond, Shawn Hill and Mike Johnson.
Canada opened the tournament with a 5-4 win over Puerto Rico and then lost to Cuba 9-5. After beating Venezuela 4-1, which qualified them for the medal round, the determined Canuck squad edged host Mexico 5-3 in the semi-finals and outlasted the undefeated U.S. squad 2-1 to win gold.
Among the standout players were Andrew Albers (North Battleford, Sask.) who chalked up a win and struck out 10 over nine innings in two games and James Van Ostrand (Richmond, B.C.), who led Canada offensively with nine hits in 19 at bats.
The Senior National Team will be represented at the induction ceremony by Whitt, director Greg Hamilton, coach Tim Leiper, athletic therapist Dave Blatz, equipment manager Keith Sanford, administrator Bernie Soulliere and players Mike Johnson and Brock Kjeldgaard.