Jamie Romak wins Canadian ball hall’s Tip O’Neill Award

London Badgers and national team alum Jamie Romak (London, Ont.) has won the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame’s Tip O’Neill Award. Photo: Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame

Official Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum Press Release

December 3, 2020

Jamie Romak wins Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum’s Tip O’Neill Award

St. Marys, Ont. – London, Ont., native Jamie Romak has been named the winner of the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum’s 2020 Tip O’Neill Award.

Canada’s baseball shrine presents this honour annually to the Canadian player judged to have excelled in individual achievement and team contribution while adhering to baseball’s highest ideals.

Romak, who batted .282 with 32 home runs in 139 games for the SK Wyverns of the Korean Baseball Organization (KBO), is a first-time winner of the award. He staved off strong competition from major leaguers Tyler O’Neill (Maple Ridge, B.C.), Joey Votto (Etobicoke, Ont.), Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (Montreal, Que.), Jordan Romano (Markham, Ont.), Cal Quantrill (Port Hope, Ont.) and Rowan Wick (North Vancouver, B.C.), as well as from Brock Dykxhoorn (Goderich, Ont.), who pitched for the Chinese Professional Baseball League’s Uni-President 7-Eleven Lions, to secure the honour.

“Jamie Romak has developed into one of the most feared power hitters in the Korean Baseball Organization,” said Scott Crawford, the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame’s director of operations. “He played a full season in 2020 and hit 32 home runs, had 91 RBIs and finished with a .399 on-base percentage. Those numbers were the best by any Canadian professional player this year. Most importantly, Jamie is highly respected by his peers and teammates and has been a great ambassador of the game for our country. We’re proud to recognize him with this award.”

On top of his power numbers, Romak also had 85 runs, recorded 32 doubles and walked 91 times, while registering a .546 slugging percentage and an .945 on-base plus slugging percentage (OPS), this season. All of these numbers topped Canadians in professional baseball in 2020.

Romak also ranked in the top 10 in a number of Korean Baseball Organization (KBO) offensive categories, including tied for first in walks, tied for sixth in home runs, seventh in slugging percentage and eighth in OPS.

Born in London, Ont., in 1985, Romak completed his fourth season with the SK Wyverns in 2020. During his tenure with the club, he has never belted less than 29 home runs in a season. He hit a career-high 43 in 2018.

Prior to his tenure in Korea, the London Badgers and national team alum played parts of 13 seasons in the affiliated minor league ranks and had major league stints with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2014 and the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2015.

Romak re-signed with the SK Wyverns at the end of October and is now the longest tenured foreign player in the franchise’s history.

Romak has also been active in charitable and community endeavours during his career. He has been a strong supporter of Baseball Canada and of the Boys and Girls Clubs in the various cities he has played in. Also, during the off-season, he sponsors local players, in his hometown of London, Ont., so that they can get individual baseball training.

“It’s an absolute honour to receive this award and have my name engraved beside so many great players – many of whom I grew up idolizing,” said Romak. “I am motivated by the generations of Canadian ball players before me that have made their mark and done so with dignity. I’m thinking of my family, friends and all the coaches along the way that have supported and encouraged me over the years. I’m humbled and grateful. Thank you.”

Details about the presentation of the 2020 Tip O’Neill Award will be announced in the coming months.

The Hall’s Tip O’Neill Award is named after Woodstock, Ont., native James “Tip” O’Neill, who was one of Major League Baseball’s first legitimate stars. With the American Association’s St. Louis Browns in 1887, O’Neill set big league records in hits, doubles, slugging percentage and total bases, while compiling a major league record .492 batting average. Walks were counted as hits in 1887, but if O’Neill’s average was calculated by today’s standards, it would be .435, the second-highest in big league history to Hugh Duffy who hit .440 in 1894.

To determine the winner of the Tip O’Neill Award, the Hall takes into account a number of criteria, including each candidate’s on-the-field performance, contributions to their team, community and charitable endeavors and their support in fan voting. The Hall also consults with a panel of baseball experts to receive their input.

Past winners of the James “Tip” O’Neill Award:

1984 – Terry Puhl

1985 – Dave Shipanoff

1986 – Rob Ducey

1987 – Larry Walker

1988 – Kevin Reimer

1989 – Steve Wilson

1990 – Larry Walker

1991 – Daniel Brabant

1992 – Larry Walker

1993 – Rob Butler

1994 – Larry Walker

1995 – Larry Walker

1996 – Jason Dickson

1997 – Larry Walker

1998 – Larry Walker

1999 – Jeff Zimmerman

2000 – Ryan Dempster

2001 – Corey Koskie

2001 – Larry Walker

2002 – Eric Gagné

2002 – Larry Walker

2003 – Eric Gagné

2004 – Jason Bay

2005 – Jason Bay

2006 – Justin Morneau

2007 – Russell Martin

2008 – Justin Morneau

2009 – Jason Bay

2010 – Joey Votto

2011 – Joey Votto

2011 – John Axford

2012 – Joey Votto

2013 – Joey Votto

2014 – Justin Morneau

2015 – Joey Votto

2016 – Joey Votto

2017 – Joey Votto

2018 – James Paxton

2019 – Mike Soroka

2020 – Jamie Romak

Published by cooperstownersincanada

Kevin Glew is a professional writer based in London, Ontario. His work has been featured on CBC Sports, Sportsnet.ca, MLB.com and Sympatico.ca. He has also written articles for Baseball Digest, Baseball America, The Hockey News, Sports Market Report and the Canadian Baseball Network. He has been involved with the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame for more than 16 years, including a two-year stint as the museum's acting curator.

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