My weekly observations about stories around the baseball world from a Canadian perspective:
– In case you missed it, the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame announced its 2014 induction class on Monday. Long-time Montreal Expos third baseman Tim Wallach, legendary Expos broadcaster Dave Van Horne, former Expos GM Murray Cook and late Toronto Blue Jays scout Jim Ridley will be inducted in a ceremony on June 21 in St. Marys, Ont. To read more about the inductees, click here.
– During the inductee conference call on Monday afternoon, Wallach, who played 13 seasons with the Expos and evolved into the best third baseman in the franchise’s history, credited Hall of Famer Bill Mazeroski for teaching him the fielding nuances of the hot corner. When Bill Virdon was hired as Expos manager in 1983, he brought in Mazeroski, his former Pirates teammate, to work with the infielders. “He (Mazeroski) was a huge help to me,” said Wallach. “He helped me so much over at third base that spring. I had my ups and downs that year, but I continued to work on the things he showed me . . . I worked hard and became a good third baseman and I loved it over there. You’re always in the game. Obviously, you’ve got the big boys coming up there and when that [Olympic Stadium] turf got wet, you better be ready, but I just loved it over there. And Bill Mazeroski was a huge, huge help for me.”
– Speaking of Wallach, here’s a story about a man who’s trying to collect every Wallach baseball card (and I mean every card) that has ever been produced.
– This year’s Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremony on June 21 will represent the second time that Van Horne has visited the St. Marys, Ont.-based shrine. He was present for long-time Expo Andre Dawson’s induction in 2004.
– Van Horne is set to become the second Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame inductee (joining Tom Cheek) to have won both the Canuck ball shrine’s Jack Graney Award (1996) and the National Baseball Hall of Fame’s equivalent honour, the Ford C. Frick Award (2011) for media excellence.
– When Cook, who was born in Sackville, N.B., was named general manager of the New York Yankees by George Steinbrenner in June 1983, he became just the second Canadian to be a big league GM (Huntsville, Ont., native George Selkirk was the general manager of the Washington Senators from 1964 to 1969). When asked what it was like to work for Steinbrenner, Cook jokingly remarked, “You would have to ask that. I not only worked for George Steinbrenner, but for Marge Schott. I did my penance with both.”
– You may not know that Cook and Ridley, who passed away in 2008, both played in the professional ranks. As a shortstop of the Gastonia Pirates (Class-A Pittsburgh Pirates affiliate), Cook played against Ridley, an outfielder with the Greenville Braves (Class-A Milwaukee Braves) in the Western Carolinas League in 1964.
– Van Horne shared the story behind his famous “El Presidente, El Perfecto!” call during the conference call on Monday (You can read it here.), but one piece of trivia I learned about Dennis Martinez’s perfect game on July 28, 1991 was that Ron Hassey was behind the plate for the Expos. In calling pitches for Martinez that day, Hassey became the only backstop in big league history to catch two perfect games. He caught Cleveland Indians right-hander Len Barker’s perfect game against the Toronto Blue Jays on May 15, 1981.
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