Morneau, Olerud, Ward and Doucet to be inducted into Canadian ball hall

Photo: Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame

February 4, 2020

Official Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame Press Release

St. Marys, Ont. – The Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame’s 2020 induction class includes two all-star first basemen that have won major league batting titles, the most effective set-up man in Toronto Blue Jays history and a legendary Montreal Expos broadcaster.

Canadian slugger Justin Morneau (New Westminster, B.C.),  former Blue Jays first baseman John Olerud, ex-Blue Jays set-up man and later closer Duane Ward and longtime Montreal Expos broadcaster Jacques Doucet will be inducted into the Canadian ball shrine in a ceremony on June 20 at the Hall of Fame grounds in St. Marys, Ont.

“Each of this year’s inductees has had a significant impact on the game of baseball in Canada,” said Scott Crawford, the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame’s director of operations. “I’m excited and proud that we will be paying tribute to their outstanding careers in St. Marys this June.”

Inductee Bios

Justin Morneau

Born in New Westminster, B.C., in 1981, Justin Morneau honed his skills with the North Delta Blue Jays of the B.C. Premier Baseball League and the Canadian Junior National Team before being selected by the Minnesota Twins in the third round of the 1999 MLB draft.

The left-handed hitting Canuck began his minor league career as a catcher but was converted into a first baseman in 2000 in Rookie ball. Over parts of five minor league campaigns, he developed into a top prospect, earning invitations to two MLB Futures Games (2002, 2004) before he was called up to make his major league debut with the Twins on June 10, 2003.

Morneau would spend the next decade with the Twins and evolve into one of the American League’s most feared sluggers. Between 2003 and 2013, he was a four-time all-star (2007 to 2010), won two Silver Slugger awards (2006, 2008), had four 100-RBI seasons – including tying Larry Walker’s single-season Canadian record with 130 RBIs in 2006 – and in that same season, he became the first – and still only – Canadian to be named American League MVP. In 2008, he also became the first – and still only – Canadian to win the Home Run Derby at the All-Star Game. For his efforts, Morneau was named the team’s MVP twice (2006, 2008).

On August 31, 2013, Morneau was traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates where he helped lead the club to its first postseason appearance since 1992. Following that season, Morneau signed with the Colorado Rockies and proceeded to bat .319 and win the National League batting title to become just the second Canadian (along with Walker) to accomplish that feat. He suited up for part of one more season with the Rockies before playing his final big league campaign with the Chicago White Sox in 2016.

Throughout his career, Morneau also consistently answered the call for the Canadian national team. After suiting up for the Junior National Team in 1999, he competed for the senior squad at the IBAF Baseball World Cup in 2001, at an Olympic Qualifier in 2003 and in all four World Baseball Classics. His name was added to Baseball Canada’s Wall of Excellence in 2010.

In all, Morneau played in parts of 14 big league seasons and he ranks in the top five among Canadian major leaguers in many all-time offensive statistical categories, including second in RBIs (985), third in hits (1,603), doubles (349) and total bases (2,739) and fourth in home runs (247). Over the course of his career, Morneau was also named the winner of the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame’s Tip O’Neill Award, as top Canadian player, three times (2006, 2008, 2014).

In recent years, Morneau has served as a part-time analyst on Twins’ broadcasts for Fox Sports North and as an analyst on the Sportsnet Central panel for the network’s World Series coverage.

The New Westminster, B.C., native has also been very active in charitable endeavors. Each year in Minneapolis, he spearheads a winter coat drive for the Salvation Army. That coat drive has collected over 40,000 coats from generous donors over the past 10 years. He has also helped organize fundraisers for juvenile arthritis to raise awareness about a disease his niece, Maddie, is fighting. As part of his efforts for that cause, he hosted an annual casino night that raised over a $1 million for the arthritis foundation and helped send kids to Camp Cambria, a camp for kids with arthritis. Morneau has also supported the United Heroes League, an organization that provides sports equipment and registration fees for children in military families. He is the host representative of an ice fishing tournament for United Heroes League on Mille Lacs Lake in Minnesota.

For his off-field efforts, he was named the Twins’ Carl R. Pohlad Award winner for outstanding community involvement in 2009 and he’s a four-time winner of the team’s Bob Allison Award (2008, 2012-13, 2015), which is handed out to a player who exemplifies determination, hustle, tenacity, competitive spirit and leadership on and off the field.

“When I heard the news that I would be enshrined in the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame I was honoured,” said Morneau. “When I learned of fellow inductees,  John Olerud, Duane Ward and Jacques Doucet, I was at a loss for words. To think that I would be joining these distinguished members that had such a lasting impact on baseball in Canada is truly humbling. I am looking forward to being in St. Marys this summer to celebrate with my fellow inductees in person. Thank you to the voters and the Hall for this incredible honour, and all that the Hall does for the game of baseball in Canada.”

John Olerud

After being selected in the third round of the 1989 MLB draft out of Washington State University, Olerud signed with the Blue Jays and went directly to the big leagues. A standout pitcher/first baseman in college, Olerud made his major league debut on September 3, 1989 and singled in his first big league at bat. With that, he became just the second Blue Jays’ draft pick to make their organizational debut at the big league level (Catcher Brian Milner was the first in 1978).

After three hits in eight at bats that September, the sweet-swinging first baseman earned regular playing time, primarily as the team’s DH, in 1990 and he proceeded to belt 14 home runs and post a .364 on-base percentage in 111 games. For his efforts, he was named the team’s top rookie and he finished fourth in the American League Rookie of the Year voting.

Smooth in the field and at the plate, Olerud would become the Blue Jays’ regular first baseman beginning in the 1991 season. From 1991 to 1993, he was a key part of three consecutive division-winning squads and two World Series championship teams. His breakout campaign came in 1993, when he flirted with .400 for much of the season and ended up with a .363 batting average to become the first – and still only – Blue Jays’ player to win an American League batting title. In that historic season, he also topped the circuit in doubles (54), on-base percentage (OBP) (.473) and on-base plus slugging percentage (OPS) (1.072), and finished third in the American League MVP voting.

In all, Olerud suited up for 920 regular season contests in parts of eight seasons with the Blue Jays and he ranks first all-time in franchise history in OBP (.395), second in intentional walks (87), fourth in walks (514) and sixth in batting average (.293). His .363 batting average, .473 OBP and 33 intentional walks in 1993 remain Blue Jays’ single-season records.

Olerud was dealt to the New York Mets for pitcher Robert Person on December 20, 1996. He starred for the Mets for three seasons prior to playing for his hometown Seattle Mariners for parts of five campaigns. He finished his career with stints with the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox. In all, in his 17-year big league career, the two-time All-Star and three-time Gold Glove Award winner finished with a .295 batting average, a .398 OBP (which ranks 65th in major league history) and 2,239 hits.

In 2007, Olerud was inducted into the National College Baseball Hall of Fame and nine years later, he was chosen as the Pac-12 Conference Player of the Century for his standout play as a hitter and on the mound.

For many, the soft-spoken first baseman was an inspiration. Prior to his junior college season, he suffered a life-threatening brain aneurysm. He worked diligently to get back on the field and recovered to enjoy a successful collegiate and pro career. His performance and perseverance earned him Major League Baseball’s Hutch Award in 1993. This honour is handed out annually to a player who best exemplifies the fighting spirit and competitive desire of Fred Hutchinson.

After hanging up his playing spikes, Olerud and his wife, Kelly, settled in his home state of Washington with their three children: Garrett, Jordan and Jessica. In 2003, they created the Jordan Fund to assist other parents with special needs children financially. Their daughter, Jordan, was born with a rare chromosome abnormality known as tri-some 2p, 5p-.

“When I heard that I was going to be inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame, I was very surprised. It was so unexpected,” said Olerud. “I am very honoured to be selected.”

Duane Ward

Selected in the first round (ninth overall) of the 1982 MLB draft by the Atlanta Braves, Duane Ward was dealt to the Blue Jays for Doyle Alexander on July 6, 1986. From 1988 to 1992, the hard-throwing right-hander established himself as one of the best shutdown set-up men in the game, combining with closer and 2011 Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame inductee Tom Henke to form the most overpowering and beloved bullpen tandem in franchise history.

In his five seasons serving primarily in a set-up role, Ward never made less than 64 appearances or pitched less than 101 innings. In 1991, the workhorse righty topped American League pitchers with 81 appearances and struck out a career-best 132 batters in 107 1/3 innings and finished ninth in the American League Cy Young voting. He followed that up by registering a career-best 1.95 ERA in 79 appearances in 1992 to help the Blue Jays to their first World Series title.

After Henke departed via free agency following the 1992 season, Ward assumed the closer’s role and excelled, topping the American League with 45 saves and 70 games finished in 1993, while allowing just 49 hits and striking out 97 batters in 71 2/3 innings. For his efforts, he was selected to the American League All-Star team and finished fifth in AL Cy Young voting. His 45 saves and 70 games finished remain single-season franchise records. His performance helped propel the Blue Jays to their second consecutive World Series title.

In 1992 and 1993, Ward was at his best in the Fall Classic. In a combined eight World Series appearances, he posted a 3-0 record with a 1.13 ERA while striking out 13 batters in eight innings, and also registering two saves.

In total, in nine seasons with the Blue Jays, Ward appeared in 452 games, the second-most by a pitcher in franchise history. He is also second in saves (121) and games finished (266).

Since his retirement as a player, Ward has been an active member of the club’s alumni in many charitable efforts. In recent years, he has been one of the lead instructors at baseball clinics for the Toronto Blue Jays Academy and the Jays Care Foundation and has also made appearances for the Alomar Foundation.

“When I was informed about my induction into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame, the only thing I felt at the time was, completely overwhelmed, a flood of feelings and emotions came after a few minutes of reflection and thought,” said Ward. “I can’t state enough how deeply honoured I am to be a part of the 2020 class of inductees to the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame.

“I want to thank all of my teammates, coaches, and everyone who helped me through the years. And to my family and friends who supported me unconditionally, saying thank you will never be enough. To my fellow inductees, ‘Congratulations.’”

Jacques Doucet

Born in Montreal in 1940, Jacques Doucet has been calling major league baseball games for more than four decades and many Quebec baseball fans credit him as the reason they fell in love with the sport

Doucet served as a Montreal Expos beat reporter for La Presse from the time the franchise was awarded to the city in 1968 to 1971. He began performing play-by-play for the Expos’ French language radio broadcasts in 1972 and continued for 33 seasons. Along the way, he called virtually every meaningful game in the franchise’s history, including 2016 Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame inductee Dennis Martinez’s perfect game on July 28, 1991. For many years, Doucet also broadcast major league playoff and World Series games in French.

After the Expos left for Washington following the 2004 season, Doucet continued his broadcast career in his home province, calling games for the independent Can-Am League’s Quebec Capitales from 2006 to 2011. In August 2011, he returned to the big leagues to broadcast select Blue Jays games in French for TVA Sports. He continues to broadcast Blue Jays games today.

In total, Doucet has called more than 5,500 big league games during his storied career. For his efforts, he was inducted into the Quebec Baseball Hall of Fame in 2002 and the Montreal Expos Hall of Fame in 2003. The following year, he won the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame’s Jack Graney Award, which is handed out annually by the Hall of Fame to a member of the media who has made significant contributions to baseball in Canada through their life’s work.

This past year, he was one of eight finalists for the National Baseball Hall of Fame’s prestigious Ford C. Frick Award.

Doucet has also been a strong supporter of baseball at the grassroots level in Quebec. As an ambassador for Baseball Quebec, he has been an active supporter of many fundraising activities for minor baseball teams in the province. He also served as an executive with the Quebec Junior Elite Baseball League from 2004 to 2010 and was involved in the Quebec Summer Games held in Longueuil in 2014.

“I am deeply honored to be admitted into the Canadian Baseball Hall Fame,” said Doucet. “Although I had won the Jack Graney Award in 2004, I could not, in all honesty, say that I was a full-fledged member of the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame. This, along with the Medal of Honor of the National Assembly of the Province of Québec, are the two highest honours I have received, I want to thank all the partners whom I had the privilege to work with during all the years and who made this possible. I want to thank the members of the selection committee of the Hall of Fame for making this day possible.”


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